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Frostbite, Weather, Alaska, Mount McKinley, Muldrow Glacier

FROSTBITE, WEATHER

Alaska, Mount McKinley, Muldrow Glacier

On June 4, at 1130, Wendt Andreas (34) of the High Dreams expedition checked in at the 14,000 foot Ranger Camp. Andreas had frozen all his fingers on both hands. His companions Mario Bornschein and Holger Kloss also sustained first degree frostbite to their fingers, but did not need to be evacuated.

The High Dream expedition planned a traverse of the mountain, starting from the Muldrow Glacier and descending the West Buttress. On the way up the Muldrow Glacier route, the group was moving up in good weather when a quick forming storm caught them on an exposed section of the route. They were forced to put up their tent for protection from the wind. The tent pole broke during the storm, and the group was forced to move until they could dig a snow shelter.

It is believed that all three sustained their frostbite injuries during their forced movement from the tent site, and while digging their snow shelter.

The three climbers went up and over Denali Pass and down the West Buttress route to the 14,000 foot Ranger Camp. At the Ranger Camp, patrollers evaluated and treated Andreas. A helicopter evacuation was requested to avoid further trauma to Andreas’ hands. Andreas was flown to base camp (7,000 feet) where Doug Geeting Aviation flew him to Talkeetna.

Analysis

Storms on Denali often occur without obvious warning. The High Dreams expedition experienced one such phenomenon. (Source: Kevin Moore, Mountaineering Ranger)