Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Dr. Peter Hackett

Peter Hackett, MD was interviewed on May 30, 2000 by Dave Krupa at the National Park Service Ranger Station in Talkeetna, Alaska. In this interview, Peter describes high altitude physiology, processes of acclimatization, and symptoms of conditions of those who become ill. He helps dispel misperceptions about altitude sickness, and offers practical advice for avoiding trouble and spotting symptoms in team partners. Peter also explains why he eventually moved on from Denali to continue his research in more comfortable conditions in Colorado. On the day of the interview, Peter was headed up Denali once more, this time to act as team physician on a NOVA sponsored ascent of the mountain.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-17-12

Project: Denali Mountaineering
Date of Interview: May 30, 2000
Narrator(s): Dr. Peter Hackett
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.

Sections

1) Becoming involved in the mountains and altitude sickness

2) His decision to devote his life to high altitude medicine

3) Description of what happens physiologically at high altitude

4) His work on Denali involving mountain rescue and problems

5) Choosing the location for a research camp

6) A typical case of pulmonary edema

7) Solutions to pulmonary edema

8) Climbers' interest in the medical research camp

9) Ways to prepare for high altitude exposure

10) The relationship between fitness and acclimatization

11) Gradation from Acute Mountain Sickness to cerebral edema

12) The use of dexamethazone and experiences on Denali

13) Making life decisions and lessons learned

14) The medical camp's involvement in rescues

15) Relationship with the military and diversity of staff

16) Help from the Okonek's and dangers

17) Preservation of equipment over the winter

18) Safety of staff and helicopter rescues

19) Winding down activity on Denali

20) Combining work with his passion for climbing

21) Reasons for his present trip to Denali

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.

Transcript

Section 1: flat lander\ Chicago, Illinois\ college\ Rocky Mountains\ skiing\ backpacking\ internship\ Yosemite\ firefighter\ rescues -- helicopter\ personnel -- rescue\ EMT course --taught\ EMT course -- first\ National Park\ Lebon, Leo -- Mountain Travel\ ribs -- broken\ Nepal\ doctor -- trekking\ stint\ stay -- duration\ mountaineering\ altitude sickness|

Section 2: Everest Bace Camp -- trek\ flu\ sickness -- mountain\ drug\ Indians -- army\ Chinese\ altitude sickness\ Diamox\ placebo\ mountain sickness -- prevention\ subjects -- number\ study\ Lancet -- published\ life -- changed\ medicine -- altitude\ climbing\ mountaineering\ exploration\ career -- medical\ fascination\ symptoms -- physiological\ oxygen -- lack\ pressure -- barometric\ factors\ body -- stress\ system -- nervous\ brain -- sensitive\ temperature\ blood -- flow\ increases\ headache\ vessels -- dilated\ brain\ altitude -- high\ cerebral edema\ capillaries -- leak|

Section 3: brain -- swelling\ pressure -- increase\ symptoms -- cause\ understanding -- current\ lung -- alveolus\ vessels -- leak\ reason -- different\ air sacs\ fluid\ oxygen -- exchange\ capillary walls\ hypoxic\ pulmonary edema -- death\ cause -- common\ pressure -- barometric\ reduced\ hydration -- role\ altitude -- sickness\ overhydration\ performance\ dehydration\ hydration -- important\ weakness\ headache\ nausea|

Section 4: Nepal\ study -- landmark\ Alaska -- work\ sickness -- mountain\ illness -- reduce\ ascent -- stage\ incidence -- reduction\ illness -- serious\ paper -- second\ helicopter -- evacuations\ number -- reduction\ Gerhard, Bob -- Chief Mountaineering Ranger\ Denali -- problem\ climbers -- few\ death\ evacuation\ rescue\ rates -- high\ location -- North America\ illness -- altitude\ Everest -- American Medical Research Expedition\ physiology -- altitude\ West, John\ Maret, Carl -- engineer\ equipment -- remote\ technology\ Weatherports -- tested\ NASA -- wind tunnels\ systems -- solar photovoltaic\ Mills, Bill Dr.\ funding\ Anchorage\ frost bite -- expert\ surgeon -- orthopedic\ appropriation -- legislature\ expertise\ Gerhard, Bob\ camp -- research\ rescues -- help|

Section 5: reconnaissance -- first\ expedition\ ?, Druv\ Drummond, Rennie\ camp -- 14,000'\ location -- ideal\ rescues -- major\ involved\ problems -- altitude\ helicopters -- landing\ Weatherports -- Hansen\ system -- solar\ analyzers -- oxygen\ carbon dioxide\ pulse oximater\ computer\ echocardiography\ electroencephalography\ analyzers -- blood-gas\ equipment -- medical\ chambers -- hyperbaric\ compressor -- air\ acclimatization -- ideal\ body -- stressed\ deathzone|

Section 6: pulmonary edema -- typical\ party -- guided\ non-guided\ victim -- stronger\ victim -- younger\ Kahiltna Glacier\ Kahiltna Pass\ camp -- 12,500\ Windy Corner\ speed -- slower\ uphill -- hard\ exertion -- physical\ cough -- dry\ cough -- irritating\ appetite -- poor\ sleep -- fitfull\ chill\ breath\ fixed lines -- carry\ chest -- gurgling\ blood\ oxygen -- level\ pulse oximeter\ saturation -- oxygen\ lungs -- crackling|

Section 7: descent -- immediate\ oxygen -- tank\ rate\ rest\ pulmonary edema -- improved\ acclimatize\ summit\ oxygen -- limited\ supplies -- save\ advice -- ignore\ medical facility -- optional\ studies\ quid pro quo\ community\ National Park Service\ blood -- draw\ frostbite\ blisters\ cough\ diarrhea\ climbers -- appreciation\ resource|

Section 8: guide -- companies\ philosophy\ clients\ input -- medical\ views -- competition\ camp\ oxygen -- levels\ problems -- prevented\ learning\ education\ screening\ pulmonary edema\ pulse oximeter\ prevention -- deaths\ prevention -- rescues\ variations\ susceptibility\ genetics\ altitude -- adaptation\ factors -- physiological\ breathing\ response -- automatic\ lungs -- smaller\ pressure -- pulmonary artery\ fluid -- retention\ prediction\ experience\ genome -- human\ breathing -- response\ hypoxia\ angiotensin converting enzyme\ pressure -- response\ artery -- pulmonary\ genetics -- mapping|

Section 9: altitude -- preparation\ hypoxia -- induce\ motivation\ sleep -- altitude\ preparation -- Denali\ Colorado\ chambers -- simulate\ pump -- vacuum\ pressure -- barometric\ oxygen -- low\ nitrogen\ concentrator -- oxygen\ environment\ cost\ trouble\ altitude -- accustomed|

Section 10: misperception -- common\ conditioning -- helpful\ altitude\ connection -- some\ acclimatization -- ability\ load -- heavy\ movement -- quick\ headache -- tolerate\ fitness -- trouble\ immunity\ confidence -- false\ acclimatize\ cerebral edema\ case -- typical\ brain -- sensitive\ Acute Mountain Sickness\ camp -- 17000 ft.\ headaches\ night -- terrible\ nausea\ lightheadedness -- dizziness|

Section 11: lethargy\ interaction -- reluctant\ Acute Mountain Sickness -- stage\ appetite -- lack\ dizziness\ lassitude\ sleeping -- trouble\ descent\ Denali Pass\ irritability\ vomit\ collapse\ neurological symptoms -- confusion\ partners -- help\ brain -- swollen\ coordination -- off\ staggering\ thinking -- off\ medication -- administer\ emergency|

Section 12: weather -- storms\ medication -- dexamethazone\ injection\ mouth\ response -- prompt\ life -- save\ evacuation -- nasty\ study -- major\ Denali\ camp\ experiences\ instances -- medical\ climber\ lessons\ mountain -- medicine\ conditions -- dangerous\ exposure -- ethics\ staff -- rescuers\ death -- certain\ pilot -- Air Force\ West Rib -- fall\ body -- visible\ radio -- call\ staff -- rescue\ cold -- severe \ wind\ risk -- exposure|

Section 13: airplane\ hypothermia\ movement -- signs\ lesson -- hard\ request -- help\ lesson -- value\ team -- acclimatized\ people -- fit\ National Park Service\ patrols -- occasional\ presence -- regular\ mountain -- upper\ access\ rescues\ presence -- maintain\ base -- rescue\ helicopters\ radios\ climbers -- misdiagnosis\ groups -- radios\ telephones\ policy -- rescue\ situation -- threatening\ Talkeetna, AK -- rescues|

Section 14: fee -- users\ climbing\ attitude -- insurance\ Europeans -- frostbite\ helicopter\ environment -- impact\ climbers -- experience\ National Park Service\ medical camp -- assessment\ frostbite -- severe\ helicopter -- evacuation\ climbers -- Japanese\ descent -- direct\ fall\ Denali Pass\ translator\ Kahiltna camp\ radio -- three way\ climbers -- Koreans\ information -- inadequate\ Waterman, Jon\ Gill, Scott \ Okonek, Brian\ temperature -- cold\ rescue -- waiting\ walking -- capable\ fear -- dependency\ effort -- heroic\ risk -- frostbite\ injuries -- minor\ dilemma|

Section 15: helicopter -- Lama\ helicopter -- Chinook\ short haul\ rescue\ camp -- ferry\ gear -- flew\ U.S. Army\ tents\ rescue team -- high altitude\ Fort Greely\ Fort Wainwright\ experience -- high altitude rescue\ training\ pilots\ glacier\ Gulf War\ project -- cancelled\ interns -- staff\ assistant -- Roach, Rob\ physiologist\ students -- medical\ residents\ Anchorage\ doctors\ scientists -- Russian\ Levine, Ben\ cardiologist\ echocardiography\ Greene, Dick\ New Mexico -- scientists\ measurements -- Doppler\ group -- camaraderie|

Section 16: manager -- camp\ Okonek, Brian\ Okonek, Diane\ footing -- solid\ survive\ guides -- mountain\ staff -- rotation\ Roach, Rob\ 14,000' camp -- danger\ snow pack\ avalanche\ ridges\ weather -- storm\ wind -- severe\ temperature\ tents -- collapse\ weatherports\ laboratory\ kitchen\ timbers -- "deadmen"\ research -- difficult\ survival|

Section 17: equipment -- storage\ Weatherport -- collapsed\ pole -- marker\ season -- snow\ pole -- buried\ digging -- effort\ camp -- established\ National Park Service -- involvement\ igloos\ snow -- caves\ tents\ shelter\ camp -- patrols\ kitchen -- visit\ communications -- shared|

Section 18: necessity -- choice\ rescue -- attempt\ calls -- close\ injury -- frostbite\ people -- inexperienced\ crevasses -- falls\ helicopter -- flying\ dangerous\ Thomas, Lowell\ fixed-wing\ Heliocourier\ landing\ taking off\ transport -- air\ issue -- important\ rescues -- helicopters\ rescue -- increasing\ helicopter -- Lama\ power\ altitude\ victim\ care -- medical\ ground team -- risks\ pilot -- risks\ ranger -- risks\ short haul\ situations -- scary\ crash\ program -- scrutiny|

Section 19: Denali -- activity\ education -- public\ climbers\ preventative\ pulmonary edema -- screening\ instances -- decreasing\ subjects -- fewer\ agencies -- funding\ National Institute of Health\ American Heart Association\ scientific study -- numbers\ Saudi Arabia -- helicopters\ Gulf -- conflict\ Colorado -- transfer\ RV -- rented\ Denver\ equipment -- transport\ Alaska\ Keystone, Colorado\ spring break\ High Altitude Pulmonary Edema\ life -- threatening\ period -- short\ yield -- better\ Mt. McKinley\ situations -- survival\ outlet -- power\ skiing\ cappuccino\ condo -- comfortable\ science -- excellent\ Denali\ expense\ risk\ money|

Section 20: summers\ weather -- sub zero\ gardening\ winter\ rescues\ National Park Service\ science\ research\ climber\ recreation\ passion\ avocation\ career\ combination\ time\ ambitious\ summit\ route\ climbing -- hindered\ Denali\ Nova -- special\ medicine -- high altitude\ mountain -- polar\ blood -- specimens\ science\ mountain sickness -- mechanism\ chemicals -- active\ brain\ vessels -- leaky\ temperature -- core\ temperature -- skin\ measurements|

Section 21: illness -- heat\ cirques -- glacial\ temperature -- heat\ intense\ clothes -- dark\ weather -- wind\ heat -- problem\ temperatures -- monitor\ climbers -- overheated\ hypothermia -- mild\ temperature -- range\ filming -- rescues\ injuries -- management\ rescues -- decisions\ team members -- controls\ blood -- draw\ values -- compare\ group -- sick|