How I Wrote Denali’s Howl

Andy Hall

Andy Hall

By Andy Hall

I had no idea that I’d write Denali’s Howl when I was 5 years old, living in Mount McKinley National Park during that tragic summer of 1967 when Denali’s deadliest climbing accident killed seven young men.

I had no idea I’d write the book when I was 45 years old. But when I was 49, I was deeply dissatisfied with my job at Alaska magazine and looking to make a big change.


I’ve been a writer and editor since graduating from the University of Alaska in 1986 and had always thought about writing a book, but I could never settle on a subject. The Wilcox Expedition had always been of interest to me since my father was superintendent of the park at the time, and my own fuzzy memories popped up whenever I heard reference to the expedition. My dad had passed away by the time I was ready to tackle it, so I had lost not only a cherished person in my life, but also a critical source for the story. Still, I had been loosely researching for many years and even without my father, I knew I had enough material that had not been seen before.

Though the accident had been written about a number of times, a comprehensive account of the tragedy — including the rescue effort — had never been done. So, I quit my job and went to work on the book.