American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Avalanche, Poor Position, Alaska, Mount McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1989

AVALANCHE, POOR POSITION

Alaska, Mount McKinley

On June 1, 1988, the four man Italian “Valmalenco Expedition” departed the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna to traverse over Kahiltna Pass in an attempt of the Wicker- sham Wall. On June 4 they proceeded over Peak 3270 meters and down the north ridge dropping 150 meters. From here all four proceeded off the ridge to the west another 30 meters. At this point, Giancarlo Lenatti skied down another 250 meters to 2780 meters in order to observe a safe descent route. Just after he stopped, around 1600, the slope where the other three stood avalanched toward the west into the upper Peters Basin. The crownline spanned approximately 200 meters with a depth of 1.2 to 1.5 meters. It ran over 200 meters stopping in the upper Peters Basin. At the time of the avalanche, all four members were unroped and on skis. Floriano Lenatti and Roberto Dioli were caught and swept out of the debris along the north side of the run. The fourth member, Marco Pedrolini, was taken down the entire avalanche path where he was swept into a crevasse. The major portion of avalanche debris swept over Pedrolini. Pedrolini was left unhurt and only partially buried. He was able to extricate himself from the crevasse. The group lost most of their gear in the slide. All four proceeded back up over Peak 3270 meters, continuing down the Southeast Fork where they flew back to Talkeetna on June 5. (Source: Roger Robinson, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)

Analysis

Considering this season’s excessive snow fall and the preceeding heavy snow storm of June 2, this descent route was a poor choice. The Italian party was advised of this season’s excessive snow fall and the extreme avalanche conditions that exist throughout the range. (Source: Roger Robinson, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)

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