Sick Mountaineer Evacuated from High Camp on Denali

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Date: June 17, 2016
Contact: Maureen Gualtieri, (907) 733-9103

TALKEETNA, AK:  Denali National Park and Preserve mountaineering rangers and volunteers saved the life of a sick climber at the 17,200-foot high camp on Denali early this morning. The 50-year-old climber from Texas became ill with signs and symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) while returning from the summit the evening of June 16 with his 9-member guided party. 

Ranger Mik Shain and four NPS volunteer patrol members were contacted at 10:00 p.m. via FRS radio by a Mountain Trip guide requesting assistance in getting his client back to their camp at 17,200 feet.  The NPS patrol helped walk the patient into camp, and then patrol members, including a volunteer physician and a volunteer nurse, conducted a medical assessment and provided treatment for HAPE. In addition to the altitude medications already provided by his guides, the NPS patrol provided oxygen, supplemental medications, and treated the climber in a Gamow Bag, an inflatable pressure chamber used to treat severe high altitude illness. The patient initially responded well to treatment, but several hours later his vital signs deteriorated. 

Shortly before 4:30 a.m. on June 17, the NPS high altitude helicopter pilot Andy Hermansky launched from Talkeetna. After picking up mountaineering ranger and paramedic Dave Weber at the 7,200-foot basecamp, the helicopter flew to the 17,200-foot camp.  The patient was loaded in the helicopter and evacuated to Talkeetna, and upon descent from altitude he quickly showed signs of improvement. In Talkeetna, he was transferred to a LifeMed air ambulance and brought to a Palmer hospital for further treatment.

Last updated: June 17, 2016

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PO Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755


(907) 683-9532
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