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Colorado climber: 'People die here every year'
Recounts McKinley summit
MOUNT MCKINLEY, Alaska — While descending a nearly vertical ridge on the tallest mountain in North America, Raquel Reisinger began feeling lightheaded and sick to her stomach — it was altitude sickness.
At 17,000 feet, the 18-year-old Reisinger was descending a section recently covered in 3 inches of powder. If she slipped, she would be washed down 2,000 vertical feet, possibly taking the rest of her Alpine Ascents team with her.
“In my head, I heard my parents' voice: ‘This is a dangerous sport; you could die,'” she said. “That was the point where I actually felt like this was real. People die here every year.”
Three days earlier, on June 13, the Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation expedition, a Japanese excursion composed of three men and two women, was swept into a deep crevasse by an avalanche on Motorcycle Hill, at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. Only one member, Hitoshi Ogi, survived the accident, suffering a minor hand injury. Ogi had been in the rear of the group and his rope tying him to the others had snapped while falling into the crevasse.
Reisinger remembers passing the group while approaching Fourteen Medical Camp, a camp on the West Buttress route where the National Park Service has a large tent for rescue and medial operations.
Reisinger reached the summit on June 16 and only stayed for a few minutes.