American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Pre-exisiting Medical Condition—Failure to Inform Guides, Alaska, Mount McKinely, West Buttress

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION–FAILURE TO INFORM GUIDES

Alaska, Mount McKinley, West Buttress

On June 16, John Cloe (59), a client of a guided Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., expedition began experiencing chest pain the late afternoon while climbing to the 14,200 foot camp. Upon arriving in camp at 1900, he told his guide, Gary Talcott, of the pain in his chest. Talcott took Cloe over to the Park Service Ranger Station, where Dr. Dudley Weider and Army Medic Raymond McPeek gave him a thorough exam at 2100. Cloe mentioned that he had experienced angina four or five years before, which he had not told the guide service. Weider and McPeek concurred that Cloe was experiencing angina and should be evacuated as soon as possible. At 2116, Ranger Roger Robinson called the Talkeetna Ranger Station to inform them of the situation. Weather on the lower glaciers was somewhat marginal for flying, while remaining good at 14,200 feet. The NPS LAMA helicopter departed Talkeetna at 2024 arriving at 14,200 feet at 2302. Cloe was flown straight to Talkeetna where he was met by the Talkeetna Ambulance Service at 2340. Cloe was transported by ambulance to Valley Hospital in Palmer.

Analysis

John Cloe would probably not have been permitted to join the guided party if he had disclosed his previous medical background. He put himself, the guides, and Park Service at risk because of his desire to climb Mount McKinley. Previous medical conditions should be seriously analyzed and disclosed before embarking on such endeavors. (Source: Roger Robinson, Mountaineering Ranger)

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