A story shared on Denali Rescue Volunteers Facebook page. It’s not always about the summit, this guy was in the right place at the right time and knew exactly what to do. Denali will still be there another day, and thanks to you so will this guy!
- Related: HAPE – Altitude’s Silent Killer
Thank you to @ibraphotog going above and beyond to help others and sharing this story:
“Left Denali’s 17kft camp a little too late during our summit push, on the way up me @thomas_karst passed a party of 3 climbers that had delayed us for a good 45 minutes on the autoban. 2 of them later turned around but the 3rd one continued on. We abandoned the bid at the football field, the decision to turn around so close to the summit was influenced by fear of cold related injuries.
I talked to the now solo climber on the way down and offered a spot on my rope. Later on we passed both of his friends, they weren’t looking good at all and were causing a traffic jam
We were able to pass them and I continued to observe them slowly descend from the safety of camp. Just as me and Thomas were about to grab dinner the climber who we had helped came up to us saying that his friend needed help.
We went back out and met him at the base of the autoban, I escorted him back to his tent. Right away I noticed he was ataxic. He wasn’t looking too hot and I gave the park service a heads-up over the radio.
His oxygen saturation levels were low, I knew we had a serious medical emergency.
The NPS patrol had descended to 14kft camp that morning and there was no one else in camp that could assist.
I set him up with oxygen and dex. Throughout the night I attempted to withdraw oxygen twice but there were no improvements.
NPS attempted to send the heli in at about 6:45am but the evac failed due to bad weather.
I arranged for a Canadian team to escort the 2 climbers that were ambulatory to a lower camp while we waited for the NPS heli.
Ranger @sancho543 along with 2 volunteers reached our location at roughly 6pm, the heli was right behind and the sick climber was flown to safety.
Since my summit bid the previous day I got about 3 hours of sleep sporadically, as soon as the heli left me and Thomas packed up and descended to 14k. I was physically wiped.
Once we got back to Talkeetna we were informed that without my efforts the climber would had most likely died of HACE. We were awarded with Denali pro pins.
If we had decided to push for the summit we would had arrived at camp about 3 hours later, likely too late to do anything for him. Happy we didn’t get to summit Denali”