Abandonment—Creating a Hazard, Alaska, Mount McKinley, West Buttress

Publication Year: 2004.


Alaska, Mount McKinley, West Buttress

Joseph Klopack (51) and his 15-year-old son Joseph, Jr. checked into the Talkeetna Ranger Station on June 3, where Ranger John Leonard briefed them. The pair flew to the Kahiltna Basecamp later that day, the starting point for their climb of Mt. McKinley. It appears that while in Talkeetna they met Dusan Golubic of the Slovak Republic who befriended the pair. The three joined up as a rope of three where they departed basecamp on June 3. They attempted to carry half their provisions all the way to 11,000 feet, but between 7,800 feet and 9,500 feet, Klopack Jr. experienced acute mountain sickness. Apparently they returned to base camp. Klopack, Jr. was left unsupervised at the Kahiltna Basecamp for four days while his father departed to climb the mountain. Klopack Jr. soloed (unroped) each day on extended glacier walks. Klopack Jr. flew off the mountain by himself on June 9. He traveled to Anchorage to stay with an acquaintance his father had met on the mountain. (Source: Ranger Roger Robinson)


This report, while not complete, is included because of its unusual nature. We have not had a situation quite like this before. The behavior of the Klopacks, especially the father, was, to say the least, inappropriate. There was discussion as to whether to charge Mr. Klopack with violating the Alaska State Code, Chapter 51, which includes a section on “Endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree.” Rangers Roger Robinson and Daryl Miller elected for a strong conversation with Mr. Klopack. (Source: Jed Williamson)