American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Inadequate Equipment, Frostbite – Alaska, Mt. McKinley

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978

INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT, FROSTBITE—Alaska, Mt. McKinley. Antoine Klingendrath (22) and his partner, members of the Societa Alpina Delle Giulie, were on the West Buttress during difficult conditions —deep snow and very bad weather. They left the 14,000 foot camp on a direct ascent for the summit on June 20. Klingendrath’s gloves were “inadequate” (type and brand name unknown) for the conditions, and somewhere above the 17,000 feet, he suffered frostbite to the extent that a descent was begun. Other climbers fed and administered first aid at 17,000, then the pair descended to 14,000 feet with the assistance of other expeditions. A Japanese doctor recommended immediate evacuation by helicopter. Bad weather and an argument over the necessity for an evacuation prevented any pick up. Next day they descended to 12,500 feet, where they met two NPS personnel on a patrol, who assisted them down to 11,000 feet, from which the pair then proceeded unassisted to the landing strip. Klingendrath was flown to the hospital in Anchorage. (Source: Bob Gerhard, McKinley Park.)

Analysis: Given Klingendrath’s experience, the question of his awareness of potential extreme weather conditions and choice of equipment comes to mind. (Source: Bob Gerhard, McKinley Park.)

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