Climber taken by helicopter off McKinley

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003

TALKEETNA (AP) A climber suffering from altitude sickness was rescued from Mount McKinley, the National Park Service said Monday.

Frank Brettholle, 51, of Edmonds, Wash., became seriously ill and lapsed into unconsciousness at the 17,200-foot camp on Friday.

Brettholle's four climbing partners were uncertain what caused his rapid deterioration as he showed no signs of illness while climbing the previous day.

A volunteer medic provided medical help over the radio to a ranger and two volunteer rangers at McKinley's high camp. Oxygen was administered and medication to treat cerebral edema, and Brettholle gradually regained consciousness.

The three-member ranger patrol used ropes Friday afternoon to assist Brettholle down to the 14,200-foot ranger camp. Gusty winds between 25 and 30 mph prevented a helicopter evacuation.

Brettholle spent the night at the ranger camp and felt well enough to descend to the 7,200-foot base camp with his four teammates Saturday.

However, on Sunday afternoon he again lapsed into unconsciousness, and again was given oxygen and medication.

When skies cleared Monday, a military helicopter took Brettholle from base camp to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage for further treatment. Brettholle was expected to be treated and released, a nursing supervisor said.

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