Weird History

Horrifying Details From The Doomed Alaskan Mountain Expedition That Almost Killed Every Climber

In July 1967, two separate groups of young men set out to climb Denali (Mount McKinley). Those groups ended up merging into what's now commonly called the Wilcox Expedition, named after group leader Joe Wilcox. His name is unfortunately associated with the deadliest climbing disaster in American history, as a lethal storm killed 7 of the 12 men who set out to summit the mountain. 

Though Denali isn't Mount Everest, it does present its own unique challenge: highly unpredictable weather. In the morning it can be calm; hours later, the mountain can be overtaken by a whiteout with high winds. A seven-day mega-storm descended on Denali during the Wilcox Expedition's climb, making it impossible for a rescue mission to even attempt to save anyone. 

The Wilcox Expedition was the conglomeration of two separate groups. Three men from Colorado - Paul Schlichter, Howard Snyder, and Jerry Lewis - had to join Wilcox's team after their fourth man was unable to climb. Wilcox's group included Ansel Schiff, Jerry Clark, Steve Taylor, Dennis Luchterhand, Henry James, Mark McLaughlin, Walt Taylor, and John Russell. The group was not nearly experienced as other climbers, such as Henry Worsley, who also perished under extreme conditions. 

The three Colorado men all survived, as did Wilcox and Schiff. The other seven were claimed by the mountain, and there they remain - much like the bodies left on Mount Everest - frozen in time.