American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Exhaustion, Alaska, Mount McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1982


Alaska, Mount McKinley

Ernest Chandler (52) was a member of a Fantasy Ridge guided expedition to the West Buttress of Mount McKinley. The group, led by guides Jon Waterman and Steve Gall, left Kahiltna Glacier base camp on the afternoon of May 22. At 6:30 p.m., at the 8,000-foot campsite on the Kahiltna, Chandler collapsed. He complained of a pain in his left chest and had trouble breathing. Waterman and Gall immediately put Chandler in a sleeping bag, calmed him down and monitored his vital signs. They felt his condition was relatively stable and administered a valium capsule and fluids.

Chandler spent a quiet night and felt he could walk back to the southeast fork. Waterman and Gall learned that Chandler suffered from chronic high blood pressure and took medication (inderol) to control it. Gall skied out to base camp to request an evacuation as both guides felt that Chandler’s problem may have reoccurred as a result of increased exercise. Doug Geeting landed at 9:15 a.m. and flew Chandler to Talkeetna.

Gill contacted Chandler in Talkeetna. Chandler felt he couldn’t afford to see a doctor in Alaska. Gill strongly recommended he seek medical care to determine his problem. Several days later, Chandler did see a physician who diagnosed exhaustion. (Source: Scott Gill, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)


This incident highlights the rather common problems of clients not informing guides of medical problems or medication currently taken. This problem is compounded in remote areas and at high altitude. Medical forms are generally required by guide services but do not always contain needed information. (Source: J. Williamson)

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.