American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Pulmonary Edema, Alaska, Mount McKinley

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


Alaska, Mount McKinley

A three-member party, the Bavarian McKinley Expedition, flew to the Kahiltna Glacier on May 21 to climb the West Buttress. Their rate of ascent was very fast. They camped at 10,000 feet on the 22nd and at 14,200 feet on the 23rd; they rested on the 24th and moved to their high camp at 17,200 feet on the 25th. During the night, Wolfgang Weinzierl (33) suffered pulmonary edema. He had previously contracted pulmonary edema in the Himalaya and in Peru. Knowing his limitations, he descended on the 26th, leaving the 17,200-foot camp around noon. A NPS climbing party of five members encountered Weinzierl as he arrived at the 14,200-foot camp at 5:00 p.m. Weinzierl was grateful for assistance as his physical condition was very poor, with considerable coughing and weakness. As the NPS team had planned to descend at the time, they assisted Weinzierl down to an 11,000-foot camp for the evening. Weinzierl remained with them until they reached the landing site and flew out to Talkeetna on May 29. His physical condition improved rapidly with descent and he required no medical treatment. (Source: Roger Robinson, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)


This is a good example of a climber who is aware of his idiosyncrasies and is therefore able to respond positively when a problem arises. (Source: J. Williamson)

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