The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak
Denali’s Howl is the white-knuckle account of one of the most deadly climbing disasters of all time.
In 1967, twelve young men attempted to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley – known to locals as Denali, ‘The High One’ – one of the most popular and deadly mountaineering destinations in the world. Only five survived.
Journalist Andy Hall grew up in the mountain’s shadow, the son of the ranger on duty at the time of the tragedy, and has spent years tracking down survivors, lost documents and recordings of radio communications to piece together the chain of events. In Denali’s Howl, Hall reveals the full story of an expedition facing conditions conclusively established here for the first time: At an elevation of nearly 20,000 feet, these young men endured an “arctic super blizzard,” with howling winds of up to 300 miles an hour and wind chill that freezes flesh solid in minutes. All this without the high-tech gear and equipment climbers use today.
As well as the story of the men caught inside the storm, Denali’s Howl is the story of those caught outside it trying to save them - Hall’s father among them. The book gives readers a detailed look at the culture of climbing then and now and raises uncomfortable questions about each player in this tragedy. Was enough done to rescue the climbers, or were their fates sealed when they ascended into the path of this unprecedented storm?
“Powerful and profound, Denali's Howl is an extraordinary account of an extraordinary tragedy. With devastating insight and a forensic eye for detail, Andy Hall puts you right there on the mountain, alongside the brave men who risked everything to reach the summit.”
“A white-knuckle story told for the first time in shocking detail.”
“Hall's book is often gripping ... its research is meticulous: it feels like a final verdict.”
David Rose, Mail on Sunday
“A vivid revisitation of a historic mountain climbing expedition.”
“In this balanced account of the greatest mountaineering disaster in Alaskan history, Andy Hall allows the full tragedy of that episode to emerge. In resisting the facile urge to lay blame, his narrative captures with gripping immediacy the intersection of seemingly small human decisions with one of the most powerful storms ever to descend on Denali.”
David Roberts, author of The Mountain of My Fear and Alone on the Ice
“A haunting, meticulously-researched account of twelve men’s encounter with the awesome fury of nature.”
Amanda Padoan, author of Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2â??s Deadliest Day
“The ill-fated Wilcox expedition to Denali finds an able chronicler in Andy Hall's gripping account of mountain majesty, mountain gloom, and human doom.”
Maurice Isserman, co-author of Fallen Giants: Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes
“One of those couldn’t-put-it-down books! This harrowing story of a more than 40-year-old mountaineering tragedy is raw and immediate as it marches relentlessly towards the final, devastating end.”
Bernadette McDonald, author of Freedom Climbers
“[An] exciting account of a 1967 climbing debacle. It was not Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (1997) but Maurice Herzog’s Annapurna (1952) that launched the genre of mountaineering expeditions that end in disaster, and Hall delivers his own skillful, heartrending contribution.”
“A well-researched, vivid account of what the climbers endured ... a fitting tribute to the boys who still lie buried on the tallest peak in North America, where the snow never melts.”
“The most controversial incident in Denali history ... [a] convincingly fast-paced narrative”
The Wall Street Journal
“Engaging ... Denali's Howl is a gem that any mountaineer would benefit from reading”
Alex Kosseff, The Outdoor Safety Institute