American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

HACE, Alaska, Mount McKinley, West Buttress

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

HACE

Alaska, Mount McKinley, West Buttress

On June 12, Ka Eui-Ryong of the Korean Alpine Club Su Won Expedition, was unable to stand or walk without assistance. Eui-Ryong was lowered from the 17,200 foot camp, to the 14,200 foot NPS Ranger Camp on the West Buttress. Eui-Ryong was diagnosed with high altitude cerebral edema by the NPS Patrol Doctor.

He was flown out on June 12 by the NPS LAMA helicopter to the 7,200 foot Kahiltna Base camp, transferred to an Air National Guard helicopter and flown to the Regional hospital in Anchorage.

Analysis

The Su Won Expedition spent seven days reaching the 14,200 foot camp and moved up two days later. Eui-Ryong was suffering from AMS at 14,200 feet before he moved up to the 17,200 foot camp and never fully acclimated the rest of the time he spent on the mountain. Returning to the high camp at 17,200 feet was a guarantee that he would be susceptible to HAPE or HACE. The Su Won expedition, like many others, put the summit ahead of personal safety. They underestimated both the altitude and the scale of Mt. McKinley. (Source: Denali National Park - Talkeetna Subdistrict Ranger Station)

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