American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Pulmonary Edema, Alaska, Mount McKinley

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


Alaska, Mount McKinley

Karl Muck (45) was a member of the five-man Munchener Expedition on the West Buttress of Mount McKinley. The group flew onto the mountain on May 27 and made a carry to 16,000 feet on June 1. That evening, Muck became very ill at 14,200 feet. At 10:00 p.m. on June 2, the expedition contacted an American doctor, Gernot Spalleck, from another expedition. Spalleck found Muck dyspneic, cyanotic and with rales in both lung fields. Lasix was given intramuscularly and some improvement was noted.

At 10:28 a.m. pilot Cliff Hudson was notified of the situation and he in turn notified the NPS. The weather in the area was goood and OAS was contacted to line up a helicopter for an evacuation. A Bell 205 from Alaska Helicopters was dispatched to Talkeetna at 11:22 a.m. and arrived in Talkeetna at 12:30 p.m. Ranger Buchanan boarded the helicopter with 02 and the plane left for the mountain at 1:02 p.m. At 1:35 p.m. the pickup was made at 14,200 feet. One other member of the party was brought out also. Muck improved considerably during the descent to Talkeetna but was still disoriented. The helicopter took him to Providence Hospital in Anchorage where he was admitted. Muck eventually paid for the helicopter evacuation himself. (Source: Dave Buchanan, Park Ranger, Denali National Park)

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