American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Alaska, Mt. McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1964

Alaska, Mt. McKinley. It was at our 17,200-foot camp that we had trouble with the camp stove (optimus). On this day it was 16°F below zero inside the snow cave, I removed my silk snow gloves to try to fix the stove. This operation took approximately half an hour and of course by that time my fingers were quite white and numb, slightly frostbitten. I was extra careful on the summit attempt the following day and so the frostbite did not increase. However, on the descent we ran into a snow storm at Windy Comer on 21 June. Several hundred feet below, we dug a snow cave again, as a tent could not possibly be put up in the 80 mph wind. In the process of shovelling it out my Korean mitts and my inner woolen mitts got wet. This would not have been too bad but the snow drifted in the entrance of the cave steadily and every two hours I had to shovel the entrance free with my mittens wet. Each time getting them more wet and my fingers more cold. Finally the mittens froze and my icy fingers started to blister at the tips.

Source: Karl Winter.

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