American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Frostbite, Inadequate Clothing, Dehydration, Failure to Descend, Inexperience, Alaska, Mount McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1994

FROSTBITE, INADEQUATE CLOTHING, DEHYDRATION, FAILURE TO DESCEND, INEXPERIENCE

Alaska, Mount McKinley

On June 7, 1993, Juliane Manelshagen (29), along with Eier Helmut and Hermann Pinggera, left the 14,200 foot camp on the West Buttress, establishing a camp at 17,200 feet. They left the following morning, at 0800, for Denali Pass. Upon reaching 18,200 feet, Manelshagen noticed several fingers that had turned white and she had no feeling in either foot. She returned to the 17,200 foot camp along with her two climbing partners. Members of the Jon and Deborah Waterman “ESPN” Expedition examined her feet, finding frostbite on both. They recommended that she descend to the Ranger Camp at 14,200 feet. The “ESPN” Expedition notified the ranger camp concerning the incident and said that Manelshagen was not descending until Helmut and Pinggera finished climbing to the summit. Manelshagen, Helmut, and Pinggera descended from 17,200 feet, arriving at Ranger Camp at 1600 on June 9. She was treated by Dr. Collin Grissom. He found purple discoloration, swelling, and broken blebs with third degree frostbite on the first three toes of both feet. Dr. Grissom recommended that due to the severity of the frostbite injury and possible damage that would occur if Manelshagen climbed down, she should be evacuated if possible. Manelshagen was flown out 24 hours later to the 7,200 foot base camp on the East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier and transported by fixed wing to an Anchorage hospital.

Analysis

The Helmut Expedition ignored the frostbite Manelshagen suffered while climbing to Denali Pass and decided as a group for Manelshagen to stay another day in order for the other two members to attempt the summit. The “ESPN” Expedition advised the Helmut Expedition to descend and seek immediate medical attention. Manelshagen was wearing double boots but with no overboots. She rewarmed her feet at 17,200 feet, but on the descent to 14,200 feet, she froze her feet for the second time. (Source: Daryl Miller, NPS Ranger, Denali National Park)

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