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Denali's Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak
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Denali's Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,880 ratings  ·  274 reviews
Denali’s Howl is the white-knuckle account of one of the most deadly climbing disasters of all time.

In 1967, twelve young men attempted to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley—known to the locals as Denali—one of the most popular and deadly mountaineering destinations in the world. Only five survived.

Journalist Andy Hall, son of the park superintendent at the time, investigates t
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 12th 2014 by Dutton (first published May 15th 2014)
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Start your review of Denali's Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak
Despite, or maybe because of my hysterical fear of heights (it's difficult for me to even climb a few steps up the ladder to change light bulbs), I love reading about mountain climbing disasters. A lot of people will be comparing this to Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, and that's understandable. Both are about a mountain climbing disaster. But that's about all they have in common, and that's ok. While Andy was present at Denali at the time of the disaster, he was o ...more
Joy D
True story of the ill-fated Wilcox Expedition that climbed to the summit of Denali in 1967. Twelve climbers set out; five returned. The author, Andy Hall, has a personal connection to the tragedy. He was five years old at the time, and his father was the park superintendent. The author has done a good job of assembling the puzzle pieces to suggest what happened to the climbers during the mega-storm that blew hurricane force winds over the high peaks. He tells the story in a journalistic manner a ...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
Thoughts soon.
Anita Pomerantz
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Compared to other books of this type, I didn't find this one to be one of the best . . .the author does a nice job of setting up the history of Denali and the history of various attempts to summit, but the crux of the story is about one tragic visit expedition in the mid 1960's. The author's father was a park ranger there at the time, so he does have an insider's knowledge of events. However, all of those who could provide the telling details of the story didn't survive to share the ordeal, so a ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
OK - for the most part a decent read about the main 1967 disaster. I'm guessing if you have already read one about that climb this may not add a lot but it seems to be quite a balanced view. While some of it is inevitably speculative - more died than returned - quite a bit of it is definitely factual such as the radio logs. The author has interviewed a number of those involved. While time may have dimmed some of the memories that may well just add perspectives that would not have been available ...more
The Wilcox Expedition on Denali (then called Mount McKinley) in 1967 was the deadliest in the recorded history of the mountain in which seven climbers died mainly due to frostbite and hypothermia. The story of this expedition which had many problems is told in this book by Andy Hall.

Hall grew interested in this particular climb when his father, who was a Mount McKinley National Park employee, was taking calls about a rescue mission for climbers on the mountain. The rescue, along with so many oth
Sep 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
More clinical after action than personal harrowing tale, but a still good account of the 1967 disaster and the changes that happened afterwards.
This book tells the story of the 1967 climbing disaster on Denali which killed seven climbers in a storm as they attempted a climb. The son of the park superintendant has researched all the available documents and talked to the survivors and rescuers about the events of the disaster, trying to discover what went wrong and if more could've been done to save them. I found it to be a balanced account that sets the scene and the background to the climb, the conflicting personalities of the climbers ...more
Jun 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Ok. Andy Hall's Denali's Howl kept my interest but the limited firsthand accounts weigh on the book throughout. A slim and grim narrative, it added to my almost non-existent of Denali but disappointed generally.

Writing about a mountaineering tragedy 50 years after it occurred with limited sources would be a challenge for anyone let alone a first time author. Hall does an adequate job but seems to include every anecdote or piece of dialogue about the '67 climb he could obtain. Some of the most i
Jun 11, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a very methodical attempt to lay out everything we know about a doomed group of climbers on Denali in 1967--one can imagine that if one were very into mountaineering and had heard lots about this incident already, one would greatly appreciate seeing all the known evidence combined with the memories of an impressive number of the people involved. Since it's clear a lot of blame was thrown around both in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and in the decades since, I think it's good tha ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
In 1967 twelve young guys formed an expedition to climb Denali. At high elevations they encountered a storm of rare and sustained power with winds far exceeding those of a hurricane. Seven of the twelve died as a result. "Denali's Howl" is a boring and confusing book about an exciting story.

Books about tragedies need to get the reader invested in the people and setting before tragedy strikes. In nonfiction it's essential. This is what made Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" and Sebastian Junger's "T
Janette Fleming
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Denali’s Howl is the white-knuckle account of one of the most deadly climbing disasters of all time.

In 1967, twelve young men attempted to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley—known to the locals as Denali—one of the most popular and deadly mountaineering destinations in the world. Only five survived.

Journalist Andy Hall, son of the park superintendent at the time, investigates the tragedy. He spent years tracking down survivors, lost documents, and recordings of radio communications. In Denali’s Howl,
Richard Campbell
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As the most deadly climbing accident ever on Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) this story has been written before, and I’ve read four versions, but none match Hall’s treatise. With seven bodies still snow-bound somewhere on the mountain and the details of their final days unknown, mystery still surrounds the catastrophe.

On top of mystery of the climbers’ final days and whereabouts, there was ensuing controversy regarding responsibility for the rescue effort. Could the climbers have been saved? By whom?
Heather Starr
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This is an interesting read, because you know what happens, but you're reading it for the details. There are a lot of characters, and I sometimes have a hard time keeping them straight. The climbers were around the age that my oldest son is now, so I thought a lot about how hard it must have been for the parents of these "children", knowing the risks an expedition like that could bring. My own son says "Mom, I'll be fine!" whenever I have concerns about the decisions he's making, but he's an adu ...more
Dusty Wight
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'd give it 6 if I could. ...more
Viswajith Venugopal
Sep 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Well-written and engaging, with detailed reporting, this was a good and quick read about a climbing accident in Denali, Alaska 50 years ago. I liked the character research, as well as the detailed descriptions of Denali National Park, its history, and the in-depth picture of how the climbing expedition went. I picked this up in a bookstore in Alaska while on vacation there, and generally speaking, it is fun to read a book set in a place you're visiting, one which describes the landscapes, condit ...more
Jessica Hanson
Aug 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing
A captivating yet chilling story of heroism, heartbreak, and strength in the beautiful setting of Mt. Denali. Andy hall did a fantastic job covering the inner workings of the park, life on the mountain, and all the various people involved throughout the years. I couldn’t put it down.
Diane Moyle
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Denali’s Howl is gripping, harrowing nonfiction account of a 12 man expedition to reach the summit of Mount McKinley in 1967. Formally called Mount Denali, it is the tallest mountain in North America. Although 12 went up the mountain, seven never returned. This is the account of what happened and the “perfect storm” that descended on Mt. Denali that sealed the climbers’ fate.

I found this book very informative and fast moving. I don’t know anything about mountain climbing but I found this very ea
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Denali's Howl was a perfect storm--today's meteorologists who sat down with their computer modeling and the author explained it as a once-in-a-100-year collision of extreme high and low pressures over Denali in July 1967. An expedition of twelve young climbers was at or near the summit when the storm hit. Andy Hall was the five year old son of the Mount McKinley (Denali) National Park superintendent and was deeply impressed by his father's involvement in the tragedy. Nearly fifty years later, he ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Whatever you do, do not listen to the audio book of this. The narrator sounds like John Wayne on a massive dose of Valium reading a phone book. Also, many of the names of mountains and sherpas were overdubbed as if, after it was all recorded, the producer learned that the narrator didn't pronounce the names correctly. ...more
This is, quite possibly, the single most boring piece of narrative nonfiction that I have ever had the misfortune to read. I finished it just to finish it, but spent the last eight or so chapters trying not to fall asleep. It will be returned and I will not recommend it to anyone.
Dave Allen
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A good, solid telling of this ill-fated attempt at climbing Denali.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Finally had time to finish this. Interesting story of a climbing expedition that unfortunately was on Denali during one of the worst storms ever. Like most other climbing books, ended by telling where the surviving climbers died, which was usually on other mountains. 😳

My new rating system. After realizing that I only ever rate books as 4s, I decided that as painful as it is I need to change. From here on out (until I change my mind again!) my scale is:
5: LOVED IT, need to buy it, and will force
Joseph Stieb
Jan 24, 2021 rated it liked it
The problem with all adventure/survival stories is that after Krakauer, pretty much every writer falls short. This story, while tragic, is fairly interesting, and Hall does a good job narrating it (and he has some interesting personal connections to it as well). Still, the characters never really pop off the page the way they do with a Krakaeur or a Grann. I recommend this only if you really want to read about Denali specifically.
Holly Ristau
Jun 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm always fascinated by people who attempt to climb mountains despite the dangers and enjoy reading about them, if only to try to understand. I still don't get it. And I'll still read these books as long as I find them. I, who got altitude sickness just going up to Pike's Peak, am taken by these adventurers who put their lives on the line and often lose. Even when they make the attempt, what is there to show? Bragging rights? Means nothing to me. Oh well, I still enjoy their stories and this wa ...more
Gary Detrick
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Enjoyed this read, although, the outcome is not the most pleasant. I think this could have turned out different had there not been a bit of chaos among members from the beginning. To me, that's a sign of things to come. Well written and interesting though; easily keeps you engaged. ...more
Jul 10, 2022 rated it really liked it
Well researched and very detailed. I didn't know a ton about Denali starting this, so I found the climbing history really interesting and def added to my understanding of how unusual the situation these specific climbers faced was. Of course there is only so much the author could do to fill in the story of the missing climbers, as they didn't survive, nor did they leave any record of their deaths (obviously) aside from the three bodies that were found, but not able to be recovered from the mount ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of adventure gone wrong. A very descriptive and thoroughly researched book about this tragedy.
Angela Han
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the narration of this book. The ruggy, hoarse voice suits the tone of the book.

The fact that people lost lives from the expedition is saddening fact. It shows how deadly nature can be!
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Why do people climb treacherous mountains, it’s in their DNA and are drawn to the challenge . This was a combination of climbers that were not compatible, some were not experienced and a storm that no one could have predicted. It was horrifying to read the actions and inactions that lead to the demise of the Wilcox expedition mountaineers.
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Lifelong Alaskan Andy Hall is the author Denali’s Howl, The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak, a non-fiction account of the tragic 1967 Wilcox Expedition. Andy lived in Mount McKinley National Park as a child; his father was superintendent there when the accident occurred. Andy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and has enjoyed a lo ...more

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34 likes · 34 comments
“Within those margins is Denali, a 144-square-mile mass of rock, snow, and ice that rises abruptly from a 2,000-foot plateau, soaring 18,000 feet from base to summit, the greatest vertical relief of any mountain on Earth, with the exception of the Hawaiian seamount Mauna Kea, the bulk of which lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. In comparison, Mount Everest, though 29,029 feet above sea level, rests on the 17,000-foot-high Tibetan Plateau and rises just 12,000 feet from base to summit. A similar plateau boosts the Andes; without those geologic booster seats, those peaks all would lie in Denali’s shadow.” 1 likes
“In comparison, Mount Everest, though 29,029 feet above sea level, rests on the 17,000-foot-high Tibetan plateau and rises just 12,000 feet from base to summit. A similar plateau boosts the Andes; without those geological booster seats, those peaks all would lie in Denali’s shadow.” 0 likes
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