In the summer of 1967, an Arctic hurricane trapped seven veteran climbers, members of Joe Wilcox’s twelve-man expedition, at 20,000 feet on Alaska’s Mount McKinley. Ten days passed while the storm raged. Despite the availability of massive resources, no rescue was mounted, and all seven men died. The tragedy was one of the most controversial, bitterly contested, and mysterious tragedies in all of mountaineering history.
No bodies were ever recovered. No cameras, diaries, or films shed light on the climbers’ final agonizing days. Yet agenda-driven critics and officials fearing lawsuits pronounced self-serving verdicts. Further obscuring the truth, two prominent expedition members offered conflicting versions of the catastrophe.
Through interviews with those involved, unpublished correspondence and diaries, and sensitive government documents, James M. Tabor uncovers an array of new information: a feud between the expedition leader, Joe Wilcox; a stillborn rescue operation thwarted by the Park Service bureaucracy; and the heroic efforts made by other civilian climbers. To interpret the details, he consults experts in disciplines as diverse as forensics, meteorology, and psychology.
In the end, Tabor has pieced together for the first time the complete, untold story of this expedition whose victims and survivors both remain, in many ways, forever on the mountain.
James M. Tabor is the bestselling author of The Deep Zone, Blind Descent, and Forever on the Mountain, and is a winner of the O. Henry Award for Best Short Fiction of the Year. A former Washington, D.C., police officer and a lifelong extreme adventure… More about James Tabor