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Murder on Mt. McKinley
Murder on Mt. McKinley
Murder on Mt. McKinley
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Murder on Mt. McKinley

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As chief executives of rivaling oil companies attempt to construct an Alaskan pipeline, danger sets in and lives are lost. Finding himself suddenly atop one of the world’s largest summits, Scott Devlon is once again thrust into yet another murder mystery. Now, it’s up to Devlon to weather the storm and reach the apex of Mt. McKinley to uncover the truth.

With competitors, Russians, Native American cultists, and environmental extremists fighting for rights, the motives are flying high. Will this mountaineer discover the truth before it’s too late?

PublisherCharles Irion
Release dateDec 8, 2010
Murder on Mt. McKinley
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Charles G. Irion

Charles G. Irion is a publisher, best-selling and award-winning author, successful entrepreneur, adventurer, philanthropist, executive producer, and actor. For several decades, he has served as the sole proprietor and broker for U.S. Park Investments, a leading operator of Manufactured Home and RV communities in the United States. Before that, he was a pharmaceutical representative for Johnson and Johnson, McNeil Laboratories after completing his Masters of Business Administration in International Marketing and Finance from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.One of his life-long passions is for the written word. Determined to make his dreams a reality, he wrote and published fourteen books comprised of the Summit Murder Mystery series, and the Hell series. Inspired by his 1987 attempt to climb Mt. Everest, and a 2011 summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, each book in the Summit Murder Mystery series is set atop the highest point of the world's seven continents. Deaths from falls, avalanches, illness, heart attacks, and high altitude sickness are a matter of course, and when you add in murder, action and adventure, the combination makes for unforgettable reads. The climb begins with the first book in the series, Murder on Everest, and is followed withWIKI ARTICLEMurder on Elbrus, Murder on Mt. McKinley, Murder on Puncak Jaya, Murder on Aconcagua, Murder on Vinson Massif, and ends with Murder on Kilimanjaro. There is also a novella, Abandoned on Everest. The Hell Series includes, Remodeling Hell, Autograph Hell, Car Dealer Hell, and Divorce Hell. He also published a fun novelty cookbook for outdoorsmen called, Roadkill Cooking for Campers - "The Best Dang Wild Game Cookbook in the World."Many years ago, Irion's first medical mission was to Benjamin Hill Senora, Mexico with the Phil Am Lion's Club. Even then, he knew that medical missions were experiences he wanted to continue. Charles is currently a Director of the Phil-Am Lions Club in Phoenix, Arizona and has participated in medical missions in a village near Subic Bay, Philippines and in Caborca, Mexico to provide approximately 300 free cataract surgeries to needy patients. He also traveled to the Municiple Hospital in San Pablo City, Laguna Philippines with the 3000 Club, to administer eye and diabetic screenings for those in need.In June 2011, Irion went on a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro with the K2 Adventures Foundation. They took Project C.U.R.E. supplies and used them to examine more than 200 patients. The following year, he visited Lima, Peru to help translate for the doctors and nurses at a C.U.R.E. clinic for a day. In addition to philanthropy trips and translating services, Charles participated in the training session at the Denver headquarters to become a certified Needs Assessment Representative. He went to Burkina Faso, Africa for the field training requirement and his first assessment alone was in Cuenca, Ecuador to conduct assessments on a hospital and a mobile surgical unit. His next assessment trip to Nicaragua included assessments of Project C.U.R.E. Clinics, where he translated for the doctors and passed out medicines and vitamins to children and adults. Since then, he has also conducted needs assessments to Ouanaminthe, Haiti; El Banco,Colombia; Santa Marta, Colombia; Buenaventura, Colombia; Cali, Colombia; Boma, DRC; Lumbumbashi, DRC; Kalemie, DRC; Lima, Peru; Machu Picchu, Peru; Bahia Kino, Mexico; Nogales, Mexico; Benjamin Hill, Sonora Mexico; Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Belize City, Belize; Cuba; Antigua, Guatemala City, Guatemala; San Jose, Costa Rica; Jaco, Costa Rica; Panama City, Panama; Zambia, Zaire, DRC; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Moshi, Tanzania; Manilia, Philippines; Zambales, Philippines; San Pablo, Philippines; Kenya, and Mumbai, India. He loves being involved with such an amazing organization and helping those that really need it. In that spirit, his slogan is One World, One PeopleTMIrion's passion for adventure has encompassed the full gamut. He has traveled to over 60 countries throughout the world. SCUBA diving is a favorite hobby of Irion's and he has seen the underwater world from California to Mexico, Costa Rica, the South China sea, Belize, Colombia, Rio De Janeiro, the island of Phuket in Thailand, Bali, and in Subic Bay of the Philippines. Irion has also skydived throughout Arizona, loved the thrill of white water rafting on Pacuare River in Costa Rica, and in 1988, Irion completed a week long course in High Wall Mountain Repelling conducted in the Bavarian Alps.

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    Murder on Mt. McKinley - Charles G. Irion


    Published by Irion Books, LLC

    Copyright © January 2010 by Charles G. Irion trustee C.I. Trust, Summit Murders LLC

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    ISBN: 9780985377472 (ePub)

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

    This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

    Cover Design by www.candesigner.com

    Book Design by Elaine York, www.allusiongraphics.com

    Voice of Summit Murder Mystery Series and Murdered by Gods by Greg Lutz

    Irion Books, LLC

    4462 E. Horseshoe Rd.

    Phoenix, Arizona 85028

    email: charles@charlesirion.com

    Praise For

    The Summit Murder Mystery Series

    "By the collaborative team of Charles G. Irion…a riveting mystery replete with sex and betrayal, Murder On Everest is highly recommended reading."

    —Midwest Book Review

    "Murder on Everest is a book unlike any other. It has murder and suspense sure, but it takes place on one of the most dangerous mountains in the world, making it a read that is unforgettable. An original idea that had me intrigued just by the title! I am recommending this book to all my friends!"

    Dusty M.

    "Murder on Elbrus was a very exciting read. Scott Devlon is a hero even Superman himself would envy! I’m looking forward to the next book in this original series."

    Kenneth Rush

    "The Summit Murder Mystery series premise of climbing each continent’s highest peak accompanied by murder and modern day issues is an entertaining saga as the authors are three for three. The story line in Murder on Mt. McKinley is fast-paced with plenty of action from nature and humans. Once again fans will feel they are scaling the mountain with storms, bitter cold and climbing safety rules. However, the key to this great whodunit (and the previous entries) is the ability of Charles G. Irion to incorporate local contemporary arguments into the climb and the subsequent whodunit."

    —Harriet Klausner

    "A fun read with no shortage of adventure. Mountain climbing is something very dangerous innately, when murder enters into it, it grows even rougher. Murder on Mt. McKinley is another entry into the Summit Murder Mystery series, spinning a murder mystery around a mountain climbing expedition, focusing on each of seven major mountains around the world. A fun read with no shortage of adventure, Murder on Mt. McKinley will prove a top pick."

    —Midwest Book Review

    "I just can’t get enough of this series! I can tell the authors are on a roll because each book gets more exciting, and Murder on Puncak Jaya is no exception! In this installment Scott Devlon is being chased by rogue gold miners, prehistoric tribes, and military with mixed loyalties! When you add in the deadly mountain itself, and you have a climb you don’t want to miss!"

    —Esperanza Lumm, Book Reviewer

    "Scott Devlon finds himself in the middle of chaos once again, on another one of the world’s seven continental summits. This time, Devlon is climbing Mt. McKinley, and his group includes an unethical reporter, rival oil companies that don’t disguise their disdain for one another, environmental protection groups, and angry local Alaskan tribes. It isn’t long before murder and mayhem take place, and Devlon is doing everything he can to just stay alive. These novels just keep getting better and better. The history and research that the authors do to add to their story is evident, and only makes it better. I’m looking forward to the next installment!"


    "Murder on Mt. McKinley is full of research and history that are weaved into the storyline, making it a remarkable read with an amazing plot. You can tell the authors did their homework. With details so vivid and writing so realistic, I felt like I was actually there as one of the characters on the climb right alongside them!"

    —James Miller

    "This time around in Murder on Puncak Jaya, the DIA sends Scott Devlon on a climbing expedition to find out information on a new company that may be destabilizing the Grasburg gold and copper mine. The action in this installment begins even before the climb begins! The Author continues to turn out a solid, entertaining read, time and time again."

    —Nellie R., Murder Mystery Lover

    "Murder on Aconcagua is a great book. Irion have written a gripping, entertaining story, that make the book one you cannot put down. The plot is wonderful. The pace is fast. The characters are amazing and the new ones that are woven into the story add to the team without distracting from the plot. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys mystery books!"

    —Gail Staudacher, Book Reviewer

    "From the moment I read the prologue to Murder on Aconcagua, I was hooked. The characters, story setting and weaving of historical locations made for a gripping tale. Among all the excitement of the climb you get wrapped into the characters and their ulterior motives. Mystery, murder, and even a few creepy moments keep you turning page after page. As I reached the end of the book I realized I was left cliff hanging on Aconcagua. I will most definitely read the next book in this series."

    —J. Meredith, Book Reviewer

    Books by Charles G. Irion

    Murder on Everest

    Abandoned on Everest (a prequel to Murder on Everest)

    Murder on Elbrus

    Murder on Mt. McKinley

    Murder on Puncak Jaya

    Murder on Aconcagua

    Murder on Vinson Massif

    Murder on Kilimanjaro

    Remodeling Hell

    Autograph Hell

    Car Dealer Hell

    Divorce Hell

    Roadkill Cooking for Campers (Wild Game Cookbook)

    Murdered by Gods - Machu Picchu

    Table of Contents


    Chapter One

    Chapter Two

    Chapter Three

    Chapter Four

    Chapter Five

    Chapter Six

    Chapter Seven

    Chapter Eight

    Chapter Nine

    Chapter Ten

    Chapter Eleven

    Chapter Twelve

    Chapter Thirteen

    Chapter Fourteen

    Chapter Fifteen

    Chapter Sixteen

    Historical Overview

    Mount Everest

    Mount Elbrus

    Mt. McKinley

    Puncak Jaya


    Vinson Massif


    About the Author

    Summit Murder Mystery Series


    To the first… Walter Harper, an Alaska Native, in 1913. He was joined by the mountaineering team co-led by Hudson Stuck and Harry Karstens, and including Robert Tatum.

    The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there.

    —Henry David Thoreau


    The air was unnaturally calm and in my high altitude jumpsuit I sweated from my exertion. We were in the clouds now, perhaps no more than 1,000 feet from the summit of Mt. McKinley. I felt the tether tighten as Quentin Stern used it to pull himself to me. That wasn’t what it was for, it was in fact dangerous to us both when he did it, but I’d come to expect it from him.

    Damn, he said when he reached me, it’s cold. In addition to his electric blue high altitude jumpsuit he was wearing goggles and a black nose protector. I could just make out his usual blue tinted glasses inside the goggles. Ice clung to his lips and chin, giving the total the effect of a Halloween mask.

    Below us the others in our party weren’t that far back. I could hear an occasional word, the tapping of an ice axe. We’d had one death already and I questioned the wisdom of continuing. The amateurs with us didn’t place just themselves at risk but everyone as well.

    This was Stern’s first attempt at climbing a significant summit. Let’s go, Stern said. I’m freezing standing here.

    We don’t want to get too far ahead of the rest, I cautioned. Our guides were below with everyone else as they trusted me with Stern and it was never wise to outdistance the professionals on a climb.

    To hell with them. Stern set off which was a very bad sign. I’d had no idea he could be so stubborn.

    Stern had no real climbing experience and should not be taking the lead. I followed as we were tethered and to talk him out of proceeding independently of our team. If he refused to listen I’d take the lead and make the best of it. Below I heard a climber complain, then curse, but the clouds were so thick all I could make out when I glanced behind me were vague ghost-like shadows in the white.

    The trail had been cleared of any obstacles by those ahead of us. There was a dark rope stretched against the snow to mark our way and provide an element of safety. I bent down and connected to it.

    I’d noticed that Stern often went untethered, trusting to luck and the fact that he was connected by another line to me for his life. I’d cautioned him more than once not to do that but he didn’t listen. No surprise. He wasn’t connected now and I needed to get that fixed. I knew it was a nuisance to disconnect, then reconnect, every 100 feet or so where the line was fixed to an anchor, but mountain climbing is no business for the lazy.

    Stern wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t Mt. McKinley. Of all the highest points on the world’s seven continents this was considered the easiest climb, after Mt. Elbrus in Europe. And Elbrus was only easier because of the lift that carried you so close to the top.

    At 20,320 feet McKinley was no great killer but anywhere from four to a dozen climbers perished up here every year. A few fell, often not to be found as there was an enormous amount of snow on this mountain and the peak was known for its near constant snowfall and furious blizzards, others froze to death or died from high altitude sickness, while as many as half succumbed to heart attacks.

    The very ease with which the climb was perceived led to so many deaths as was the case with Elbrus. In the 11 days we’d been at this, the trek had been across wide plains of fresh snow or along narrow ridges, neither of which was more than moderately inclined. But now we were at the end and the route was beginning to rise sharply. With the cloud and cold that numbed gloved hands, we’d reached the most dangerous time.

    From my experience most of those on the team would not understand that. They were tired, even exhausted. The goal was all but in sight. The tendency was to banish any negative thoughts as well as genuine concerns from your mind and press on. None of them would be considering the reality that once we reached the summit we were only half done. We still had to get down alive and uninjured.

    Stern was making good time, too good, and I found it difficult to catch up with him. The route was taking us along a traverse. The mountain rose sharply to my right, very steeply down the glacier to my left. Such places can be quite treacherous. There was nowhere I could reach and talk to him in safety so I decided to wait until after the next point when I’d need to disconnect and reconnect.

    That spot was about 10 feet away when Stern was suddenly engulfed in a sea of white and vanished. Without warning the falling wall enveloped me, shutting out the light as it swept me away. There was no time to shout, no time to react. I found myself plunging into thin air, trapped in the deadly embrace of an avalanche.

    Chapter One

    It was a brilliantly clear day in Alaska, the kind you see in travel brochures. The sky was so clean it seemed never to have been soiled by man. Overhead the flank of Mt. Hunter was aglow in a brilliant white blanket of fresh snow. It was one of the hallmarks of the Denali Mountain Range which contained Mt. McKinley.

    Base Camp was at 7,100 feet and even at this relatively low altitude I felt a bit short of breath. We’d arrived a few minutes earlier by ski plane, landing on the Kahiltna Glacier here at its southeast fork on a white blanket of a runway.

    This was one of the wonders of modern mountaineering. No longer were the long treks to reach the jump-off point required. Busy executives could fly in and get to it, the pattern they were accustomed to in their business life. It was a marvel all right. It was no wonder so many died up here.

    I glanced about the camp and estimated there were perhaps a dozen brightly colored tents set up. That would put the number of climbers and guides at about 25. Those I could see milling about seemed a motley bunch, and from the looks of them and their gear perhaps no more than six were serious climbers. That was the problem with these easy climbs; they attracted the unqualified like flies on a warm summer day.

    One team in particular caught my eye. Most looked out of shape and they were too boisterous to be serious mountaineers. Climbing a mountain can be great fun, if you are prepared and if you know what you are doing. But it’s not a weekend campout. Incessant laughter and clowning was the certain sign of rank amateurs. There were as well too many of them for a single team and just two guides.

    Pete was stacking our gear into some kind of order, busywork it seemed to me. Rollie, her husband and boss of the team, was talking to Julius Snowe—again—patiently explaining the reason for what Snowe insisted was an unconscionable delay. From what little I knew of the man I doubted he had much of anything to do with a conscience.

    Rollie was holding his own. In his line of work he’d had plenty of practice with the executive types who thought they knew everything. An expedition such as this was somewhere Snowe could die from his own arrogance, taking a few along with him.

    Ross Boggs, CEO and co-founder of Boggs Integrated Oil & Gas stood to the side observing the scene with scarcely masked disapproval. Though the two were partners in a pipeline and congenial, it was already apparent that there was no love lost between them.

    As I understood it, in the bare knuckles world of Alaska oil they were more typically daily competitors. Only the prospect of cooperating in a new pipeline venture had brought them together in what Snowe’s assistant, Michael Piquet, had termed to me with more than a trace of irony, a bonding experience.

    Though I suspected they had a great deal in common, the pair was physically quite different. Snowe was in his early 40’s, six feet tall and a very fit 180 pounds. An avid amateur mountaineer, I understood that he maintained a climbing wall at his company headquarters in Anchorage. He hid his loss of hair by shaving his head, a task he’d find challenging in the approximately two weeks of roughing it ahead of us. He had blue eyes with what a psychologist I’d once dated would have characterized the flat aspect of a classic sociopath.

    You wouldn’t know it from his demeanor. Like a Hollywood star or super salesman he turned the charm off and on like a searchlight, fixing you with his attention, presenting the illusion for those seconds or minutes that you were the most important person in the world to him. In the high-powered world of energy no doubt he found the technique effective. It just made me dislike him all the more and cautious in dealing with him.

    His man, or to be more accurate, his minion as I came to think of him, was Michael Piquet, the chief financial officer of Consolidated Alaska Energy. I assumed he was here to explain finances to a skeptical Boggs. He was perhaps 5’9" tall, 170 pounds and in his late 40s. He wore contact lenses this morning but I knew from experience he’d switch to glasses once the climb started.

    Snowe was impatient with him and there was clearly an undercurrent in their relationship. Piquet dealt with Snowe wearing a poker face but he did not strike me so much as mild-mannered; rather as one who held things in, much like those pressure cookers moms used to prepare dinner with. I was

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