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Fall, Ski-Mountaineering – Alaska, Mt. McKinley

FALL, SKI-MOUNTAINEERING—Alaska, Mt. McKinley. While skiing down the Kahiltna Glacier after a carry to the 10,000 foot level, Tokehiro Miyano (32), of the Kofu Nannei Alpine Club, hit a bump and somersaulted while falling. He fractured his left leg. At the time of the accident, a Polish- American scientific expedition was being flown onto the glacier. The victim was moved to this landing site and flown to Anchorage. (Source: Bob Gerhard, McKinley Park.)

Analysis: Ten or fifteen years ago, one might not have had such expeditious rescue service as is available now. The Kahiltna is no longer “remote” during the summer season, and this raises the question of whether climbers have expectations and assumptions as to the potential for rescue which lead to more risk taking. This writer knows of one climber, for example, who intends to “solo” the West Buttress route with a light pack, the feeling being that it is now possible to scavenger one’s way up the mountain. Another example of this is the group in May of 1977 which, after 65 days on the mountain, were pinned at 17,200 feet for several days in a severe storm, separated from their main supply camp. They called on the Park Service to evacuate them. (An airdrop was made instead.) When one begins to count on such services, there is a change in the mind-set —consciously or unconsciously—towards what one is willing to risk. (Source: J. Williamson.)