Last night PBS broadcast an episode of NOVA titled "Deadly Ascent." The NOVA crew climbed Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska with a team of researchers and mountaineers to figure out why our bodies break down at high altitudes and low temperatures.
The team carried lots of extra food in their packs, because a storm could pin them down for days. To make matters more volatile, the team included one Dr. Howard Donner. I could see it in their eyes: no one wanted to run out of munchies in the wilderness with a Donner.
Of course, their fears may have been unfounded. Last week a pair of archeologists revealed that they could find no evidence of cannibalism among the Donner Party. Using electron microscopes and DNA tests, they analyzed thousands of bone fragments at the Alder Creek campsite where the Donners spend 4 winter months in 1846-1847, but, alas, none of the bones belonged to people. The undramatic findings do not bode well for the archeologists' negotiations with CBS regarding the upcoming series CSI:Alder Creek.
Even without people eating people, the NOVA episode contains some level of adventure. But my favorite Denali account remains Art Davidson's autobiographical tale of the peak's first winter ascent. Even the book's title gives me the chills: Minus 148 Degrees. (That's with windchill, but still...)
[I feel somewhat odd categorizing a post about the Donner Party under "Travel" and "Food and Drink," but what's done is done.]