FALLING ICE, POOR POSITION
Alaska, Mount McKinley, Cassin Ridge
At 2105 on June 16, Jason Kraus (30), a member of the Cold and Stinky Expedition, requested evacuation from the base of the Cassin Ridge on Denali. Kraus had sustained an injury to his left leg from falling ice while belaying his partner, Michael Morris, in the Japanese Couloir. Both members rappelled approximately 5 00 feet down the couloir where they established a landing zone at the 11,300-foot level for the NPS Lama helicopter. Kraus was unable to walk, yet remained in stable condition until Denali Park Ranger Dave Kreutzer arrived on scene with Lama pilot Jim Hood. At 2247, Kraus was transported to 7200-foot camp where he received primary medical assistance by climbing ranger Karen Hilton and NPS volunteer Sara Ennega. Kraus’ chief complaint was point tenderness in his upper left thigh resulting in an inability to bear weight. Lifeguard helicopter arrived at 7200-foot camp at approximately 2300 and transported Kraus to Providence Medical Center where he was treated for a bruised thigh.
Proper assessment of the fall line within a couloir can reduce the risk of injury to a climber. Kraus may have been able to avoid injury from ice fall had he and his partner chosen a belay stance out of the fall line of climbers above.
(Editor’s Note: All the reports from Denali National Park were edited by Daryl Miller, South District Chief Ranger. The reports he worked from were written by Rangers Roger Robinson, Kevin Moore, and others.)