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Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

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Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby Hacksaw » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:12 am

This was on the NPS morning report today.

Denali National Park & Preserve (AK)
Military Assists In Evacuation Of Mentally Ill Climber

A 25-year-old solo climber from Pennsylvania was evacuated from the 14,200-foot camp on Mt. McKinley on July 7th after his erratic behavior and alarming statements revealed signs of mental illness with a likelihood of causing serious harm to himself or others. Prior to flying to the Kahiltna Basecamp, the solo climber told a Talkeetna resident that he intended to paraglide from the summit, an activity prohibited in Denali by federal regulation. When NPS staff members in Talkeetna were informed of this, rangers confronted the man, who signed an affidavit saying that he would not bring his paragliding equipment on the mountain. After he began his ascent of the West Buttress on June 28th, other climbing parties on the route made numerous reports to rangers that the soloist demonstrated unsafe glacier travel, a lack of appropriate gear, improper disposal of human waste, littering, and unusual inter-personal interactions. When he reached the 14,200-foot camp, Denali mountaineering volunteers and rangers evaluated the climber, who was cold, wet, and in distress. While treating the man for hypothermia, rangers discovered paragliding equipment in his sled. The paraglider was seized, at which time the individual’s behavior and language grew increasingly unusual and erratic. Two NPS volunteer medical professionals at the camp consulted over a 24 hour period by telephone with the park’s medical director in Anchorage about their patient observations. A determination was made that his behavior and condition presented a potential risk to his life and others. Under provisions of Alaska State law, a 72-hour protective custody order was prepared by the medical director in Anchorage. It was deemed unsafe to transport a mentally unstable person within the small confined cabin of the park’s high altitude helicopter. Denali staff therefore requested military assistance through Alaska’s Rescue Coordination Center. Two Army Chinook CH 47 helicopters from the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Ft. Wainwright responded to Talkeetna on the morning of July 7th and transported two Denali law enforcement rangers to the 14,200-foot camp. NPS personnel at the camp had the man strapped and secured on a backboard when the single Chinook landed early in the afternoon. He was placed in the aircraft and flown directly back to Ft. Wainwright. Alaska State Troopers assisted the park by taking him into custody upon arrival and transporting him to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. [Submitted by Maureen McLaughlin, Public Information Specialist]
"True love is much easier to find with a helicopter."

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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby Doug Shaw » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:32 am

Holy crap.

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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:49 am

The guy must be channelling Maurice Wilson.
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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby silverlafs » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:05 am

We were camping near Gothic/Crested Butte over the weekend and some guy had some psychotic episode as well..........running around the woods at 4am, screaming and hitting people's tents. Strange, it's not something to be expected while camping or hiking, but I guess that's just a limited perspective on my end. Glad it all ended well! #-o
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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby JohnWilliams » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:09 am

I hope whenever I head up there I'm in a similar state of mind. :shock: Seems like its been a strange year up there for the Rangers. First, the Lazy Woman who wouldn't leave Basin camp without a chopper, now this? Crazy indeed!
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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby susanjoypaul » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:16 am

I'm glad there were other climbers out there that day willing to speak up and report this guy. Too often we see things that aren't quite right, and move on, afraid to interfere or possibly embarrass ourselves for fear we're mistaken in our assessment.

Hooray for the other climbers, and the volunteers and rangers, and the National Park Service, and Alaska's State Troopers, and the U.S. Army too! It's nice to see the good guys win one every now and then.

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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby rickinco123 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:20 am

silverlafs wrote:We were camping near Gothic/Crested Butte over the weekend and some guy had some psychotic episode as well..........running around the woods at 4am, screaming and hitting people's tents. Strange, it's not something to be expected while camping or hiking, but I guess that's just a limited perspective on my end. Glad it all ended well! #-o


Based on where you were camping, I would expect your psychotic experience was a purposeful event. Crested Butte ( especially Gothic ) has become the home for trustafarian hippies starting back in the 70s. If their parents would just do the right thing and cut them off they wouldn't be able to afford drugs.

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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby Hacksaw » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:57 pm

Hacksaw wrote:[... It was deemed unsafe to transport a mentally unstable person within the small confined cabin of the park’s high altitude helicopter..... NPS personnel at the camp had the man strapped and secured on a backboard when the single Chinook landed early in the afternoon.


What will be interesting to find out is if this whole thing was a WWF Smackdown evernt, with getting this guy on the backboard.... 8)
"True love is much easier to find with a helicopter."

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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby cftbq » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:32 am

$.02: Why is paragliding banned? Any good reason? (I doubt it.)
Basic summary (translated into plain English): Someone dares to do something unusual in the vicinity of Denali, and is hunted down and forcibly subdued by "law enforcement." This is not a "peaceful" ending, but yet another victory of enforced order over individual freedom.
This man was not "evacuated." He was seized and may never be free again.
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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby Alby426 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:47 am

cftbq wrote:$.02: Why is paragliding banned? Any good reason? (I doubt it.)
Basic summary (translated into plain English): Someone dares to do something unusual in the vicinity of Denali, and is hunted down and forcibly subdued by "law enforcement." This is not a "peaceful" ending, but yet another victory of enforced order over individual freedom.
This man was not "evacuated." He was seized and may never be free again.




Very interesting point of view. In a philosophical aspect, yes. In a sociologist, the line blurs a lot.
Reading the report, though, I have to understand that, this individual, sane or not, broke the law intentionally. Furthermore, he seemed to be more bellicose than friendly.
I am an advocate of personal freedom, but I also believe in respect of laws and others. If don't have such respect, how can you expect it back?
It is a difficult decision that the park service had to make and, only speculation can be exclaimed here. The big question is: would you like to have such individual climbing beside you?
In my opinion, the removal of this climber from the mountain, was granted by the fact that he blatantly ignored posted law.

My $.02
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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby Hobopoet » Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:23 am

This is an extreme case, but it raises the question of what to say to whom and when. A number of times, I've seen hikers/climbers who I thought were putting themselves in consider danger. Coming down off Handies into American Basin a couple of years ago, for example, I met several people, all very over weight, poorly equipped and headed up in the middle of a huge lightening storm. I said nothing, but I've often wondered if they made it safely.

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Re: Military Assists in Evac of Mentally ill Climber

Postby Moboy56 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:17 am

if it's against the law to hang glide on Denali, it doesn't matter if it makes sense or not, it's against the law. while he wasn't caught in the act, i don't think there are a lot of other climbers dragging hang gliders to the top, so intent was obvious.
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