American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Grand Mal Seizures, Alaska, Mount McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995


Alaska, Mount McKinley

On May 16, 1994, John Merrigan (43) was climbing Mount McKinley when he began experiencing what appeared to be Grand Mal seizures at 7,800 feet on the Kahiltna Glacier. He was evacuated at 0745 on May 17 by the Alaska Air National Guard helicopter and transported to Providence Hospital in Anchorage.


John Merrigan's physician approved his climb on Mount McKinley and his previous medical condition was made known to his guides. Any prior condition would have been difficult to diagnose. Upon his return, Merrigan was given a clean bill of health. (Source: Roger Robinson, Mountaineering Ranger, Denali National Park)

(Editor’s Note: Persons with a history of such conditions as seizures and diabetes, and who are on medications, need to be aware that changes in levels of physical activity and high altitude can have an unstabilizing effect.)

This ANAM article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.