American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall Into Crevasse, Unroped, Alaska, Mount McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993

FALL INTO CREVASSE, UNROPED

Alaska, Mount McKinley

On May 11, 1992, Dave Fulton (31) and Robert Bums were descending from a carry to Windy Corner on the West Buttress back to their camp at 11,000 feet on the West Buttress of Mount McKinley. They were both traveling unroped, having deposited their rope at Windy Corner. About 1500, at 12,100 feet, Fulton fell into a crevasse that was somewhat hidden next to and parallel to the packed trail. As Fulton tumbled down into the four to five foot wide crevasse, he hooked a crampon 25 feet down which threw his shoulder against the crevasse wall creating a stemming position. He could not see any bottom to the crevasse and speculates that if he hadn’t stopped, he would probably have been killed. Fulton was able to stem out on his own but sustained some injury to his right knee and right shoulder. Fulton was able to descend back to the landing strip on the Kahiltna Glacier without assistance.

Analysis

Burns had climbed on Mount McKinley several times in the past, but this was the first for Fulton. Traveling unroped on glaciated terrain is never a good idea, even with previous experience on the route. (Source: Roger Robinson, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)

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