Climber Dies Above Windy Corner
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, (907) 733-9103
A client on a guided expedition collapsed and died of apparently natural causes on Thursday, May 7 while ascending the West Buttress of Mt. McKinley. William Hearne, age 61 of Fairport, New York, was a client on a six-member Mountain Trip expedition which began their ascent on May 1. Hearne collapsed shortly before 4:00 p.m. after his team had hauled gear from their camp at 11,200 feet to a cache site at 13,500 feet, just above the location known as Windy Corner.
The expedition guides immediately began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and were soon assisted by two National Park Service (NPS) mountaineering rangers who happened to be at Windy Corner retrieving gear. CPR was performed for over 30 minutes, but Hearne never regained a pulse. Two advanced medical providers on the same NPS patrol, a paramedic and a nurse, arrived on scene from the 14,200-foot camp at 4:30 p.m. Shortly thereafter, Hearne was pronounced deceased after telephone consultation with the park’s physician sponsor. While the five team members returned to their camp at 11,200-feet, NPS rangers secured the deceased in place at 13,500-feet for later helicopter evacuation.
Denali National Park and Preserve’s 2009 mountaineering season only recently got underway. A total of 1,052 climbers are registered to attempt Mt. McKinley this season, 167 of whom are currently on the mountain. Of the ten mountaineers that already completed attempts, eight reached the summit.
Did You Know?
Recent climate warming has affected Denali in ways that are readily apparent, such as reduced spring snowfall, earlier snowmelt, earlier green-up and thawing of permanent snowfields. Subarctic ecosystems, like Denali, are extremely sensitive to climate variability and change.