American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Faulty Use of Crampon—Fall on Snow, Alaska, Mount McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997


Alaska, Mount McKinley

The Spanish expedition “Lleida McKinley ’96” had eleven climbers in the group, including Juanjo Garra (32). They began their ascent of the West Buttress on May 19. On June 1 at 1300, while ascending above Denali Pass, Juanjo Garra lost a crampon causing him to fall. During the fall he sustained a comminuted fracture of the distal fibula. A Ranger patrol at 17,000 feet responded and lowered Garra to the 14,000 foot Ranger Camp where he was evacuated by a military Chinook helicopter on June 3.


The terrain on the West Buttress of Denali above 11,000 feet is often steep, exposed, and underestimated. It is demanding on climbers’ attention and equipment. Faulty use of equipment has caused several falls on this terrain. Many first time climbers here are unfamiliar with the fit of their crampons to a pair of newly purchased overboots. Careful attention to the match and fit of this equipment is essential to safe climbing. This equipment should be tested in a controlled environment, and inspected frequently. (Source: Denali National Park - Talkeetna Subdistrict Ranger Station)

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