AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

HAPE, Alaska, Mount McKinley, West Buttress

HAPE

Alaska, Mount McKinley, West Buttress

Charles Grey (40) of the Unfinished Business Expedition (party of 2), reported symptoms of HAPE to the 14,200-foot Ranger Camp on Mount McKinley at midnight on June 9. Grey was ataxic with an oxygen saturation of 61 percent. He was placed on oxygen and improved enough to descend with assistance at 1300. Grey descended on oxygen, reaching the 11,000-foot camp at 1700 with the help of Park Service Volunteers Denny Gignoux and Jay Mathers. After several days of rest at the 11,000-foot camp, Grey was able to ascend and continue his climb without incident.

Analysis

Grey had ascended to 19,000 feet on a previous climb of Denali without any altitude problems. On this particular climb he ascended to the 14,000-foot level in five days, which is generally the minimum recommended. Considering his previous ascent this climb should have gone without incident. This scenario goes to show that anyone can get HAPE and with an early diagnosis and rapid descent, it might be possible to reascend and continue the climb.