Mountain Sickness Keeps Ranger Patrol Busy

The Denali rescue helicopter was busy last night taking care of patients high on Mt. McKinley.  In three separate incidents, one climbing patrol had to deal with mountaineers suffering from severe acute mountain sickness.

Tucker Chenoweth and four other patrol volunteers were descending from the summit of Denali when they encountered a solo climber suffering from altitude issues. A 27-year-old Serbian climber staggered in front of them and collapsed. After doing an exam, the five rescuers decided that there wasn’t any way the climber could descend without further help. The rescue helicopter just happened to be at base camp and was able to fly up to 19,300 feet and safely get him lower on the mountain.

Maureen McLaughlin, park spokesperson, says they suddenly came upon another climber:

The rescue helicopter returned and short-hauled the second patient to the 14-2  Camp.

Chenoweth and his volunteers continued their descent only to come across yet another climber.

The Serbian climber refused treatment after feeling much better at lower elevation. The other two were transported to an area hospital via LifeMed air ambulance.

Mclaughlin says the ranger patrol finally made it safely to the high camp at 17,200 feet without further incident and have the day off today.

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Sue Deyoe is a reporter at KTNA in Talkeetna.

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