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Cerebral Edema, Altitude Sickness, Alaska, Mt. McKinley

CEREBRAL EDEMA, ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Alaska, Mt. McKinley

On June 1, Bruce Hickson (22), Tom Crouch (23), and George Gonzales (26), members of an Air Force training team which had climbed the West Buttress, were camped at 18,000 feet at Denali Pass waiting to climb to the summit the next day. Hickson and Crouch developed acute mountain sickness here and were thought to be suffering from cerebral edema also. A rescue was requested through Rescue Coordination Center via radio. The two were evacuated by an Army CH47 helicopter the next day. Gonzales volunteered to accompany the two in the helicopter. (Source: Nick Hartzell, Mt. McKinley National Park)

Analysis

The team was not unusually fast in climbing to the dangerous altitude. The team used Diamox during the first half of the trip, hoping it would lessen the effects of high altitude. It is possible that, on an extended high altitude stay, Diamox might upset the body’s natural efforts to acclimatize. (Source: Nick Hartzell, Mt. McKinley National Park)