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HAPE, Desire to Do Well, Alaska, Mount McKinley


Alaska, Mount McKinley

Craig Scott (30) was a member of a RMI expedition to climb the West Buttress route on Mount McKinley. The expedition flew onto the Kahiltna Glacier on June 2, 1990. Scott was a triathlete and was doing very well throughout the climb. On June 7, the expedition reached the 4260 meter camp. Scott was starting to feel the altitude and had a difficult time sleeping and breathing that evening. He did not tell any of the guides of his condition until late morning on the 8th.

At 1300 Scott was helped up, as he was unable to walk unassisted, to the NPS camp. Upon examination by Dr. Steve Gipe, Scott was found to have coarse rales on both sides of his lungs. Gipe classified Scott as having severe pulmonary edema and put him on oxygen.

RMI started organizing to take Scott down the mountain immediately. Scott responded to oxygen and felt much better. After four hours, Scott was put on a portable “E” oxygen bottle with a cannula in his mouth and was able to descend under his own power. The evacuation got Scott down to 2450 meters that night. He improved rapidly with descent. (Source: Scott Gill, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)


The importance of being “up front” with your medical condition in regard to altitude cannot be overemphasized. Scott could have died if he had kept his symptoms from the guides much longer. The oxygen enabled Scott to descend under his own power. RMI did an excellent job getting Scott down once the problem was diagnosed. (Source: Scott Gill, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)