American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Failure to Communicate, Illness, Alaska, Mount McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1992

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE, ILLNESS

Alaska, Mount McKinley

On June 20, 1991, Larry Sorenson (51) experienced what he believed was a recurrence of acute colitis at 14,000 feet on the West Buttress of Mount McKinley. Sorenson had also complained of gastrointestinal pain and discomfort beginning June 15. As a result of these medical conditions, Sorenson was physically unable to descend or be evacuated by his expedition members to the 7,000 foot basecamp. Sorenson was evacuated from 14,000 feet by helicopter.

Analysis

The stress of altitude, physical exertion and changes in diet appear to have been contributing factors that aggravated Mr. Sorenson‘s previous medical conditions. It is important for any individual to convey special medical conditions and restrictions to the leader of an expedition. The leader then needs to make the necessary arrangements required by that individual. It appears that there was inadequate communication between Mr. Sorenson and Mr. Bocarde regarding Sorenson‘s previous medical conditions. (Source: Ronald Johnson, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)

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