A Critical Look At Forever on the Mountain –

The Truth Behind One of Mountaineering’s Most Controversial and Mysterious Disasters– a Book by James M. Tabor

An Afterword

   My Dad was not a climber.  It was as obvious to him as it was to the climbers involved.  As superintendent, mountaineering experience was not a necessary skill to do his job.  In the extraordinary circumstances of 1967, having experience would have helped if for no other reason than to talk to the climbers as a peer.

Although Tabor characterized the September 1967 debriefing as a “Get Wilcox” meeting the results of the debriefing and its follow up, were well received by both the Alaska Rescue Group and the Mountaineering Club of Alaska. 

 Interestingly, the local mountaineers advocated for a reduction in the NPS involvement in “managing” climbing on the mountain.  They felt climbers should never view the park service as a safety net for those choosing to attempt climbs in the park boundaries.  They did not advocate for a change in the park’s response to climbing accidents or rescues. 

 Now the philosophy is that Mt.McKinley is the people’s mountain, and it’s up to the climber to arm himself with gear and judgment before climbing it.  Park officials do make an effort to inform climbers of dangers and ask them to report back, but no one [will] be denied a chance to climb the mountain.

 In December of that same year, The Mountaineering Club of Alaska presented Dad with a lifetime achievement award for his work to ensure the mountain continued to be available for climbing.  Dad had only been on the job for 8 months.

 Vin Hoeman and Ray Genet, climbers of some renown and were involved in the rescue and the aftermath both became good friends of my parents.  Both friendships lasted until Vin’s and Ray’s untimely deaths. 

Dad stayed in contact with Joe Wilcox.  When I was away at college and Joe had finished White Winds, he traveled to Anchorage for a book signing and stayed with my folks.  Joe kindly gave Dad a copy of his book galleys for White Winds and of the book.  Dad passed it on to my husband and me as a gift.  My mom kept the copy of the book which Joe gave Dad.  The inscription reads:

“To George Hall – With deep appreciation for your kindness to me and to the families of the lost climbers.  The White Winds tragedy has given us a common bond and a valued friendship.  The very best wishes for you and your family.  Joe Wilcox”

My husband, John, successfully traversed Mt. McKinley just weeks before we became engaged – that was almost 18 years ago…. We spend weekends at our cabin at Denali Lake with the kids…under the watchful eye of Denali, Foraker and Hunter.     



Anchorage Daily News, July 10, 1974, 4.

See attachment #4


The REAL Truth:
"The 7 men were hit by an unprecedented storm that prevented anyone from doing any more than was done..."
The "Obvious Choice" of NPS rescue coordinator was not the most "practical choice"...
The Alaska Rescue Group (Now called The Alaska Mountain Rescue Group) was the most experienced resource available..
The Winter Ascent Rescue was not mounted in "a matter of hours" and was undertaken after their storm had abated...
An Air Force C130 or other high altitude observation plane would not have made a difference.
July 20, 1967, the day that Wilcox radioed for help.
The role of Don Sheldon & Bradford Washburn and the authors assertions about their errors and misjudgements.
Tabor's Conclusion is Wrong
Other Mistakes
An Afterword
Acknowlegements and Thanks
Attachment #1, Attachment #2, Attachment #3
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