by Sue Deyoe ~ July 7th, 2011
This is the final Denali Report of the 2011 climbing season.
A total of 1203 people registered to climb Denali this season. Most of those people have returned from their climbs, although there are still about 200 people on the mountain. They should all be returning within the next week or week and a half.
For the first time in years, a guide died in a climbing accident that also took the life of a client. Suzanne Allen, a highly respected long time Denali guide that was also familiar with other large peaks in the world, died tragically along with Peter Bullard of the UK in a roped team fall.
With 6 deaths on Denali, it is one of the deadlier seasons in the past 15 years. However, the season has only had one large search effort which just happened last week. The search for Austrian national Juergen Kanzian ended on a sad note. He had apparently taken his skis off and put crampons on to search for a better descent and ended up falling down the Orient Express…a deadly chute which has meant the demise of several climbers over the years.
Minus the tragedies this season there has also been overwhelming success. The rescue helicopter and climbing rangers have done perhaps more short hauls and rescues high on the mountain than past years? Weather cooperated with medics and lives were saved this year that in other years, might have had a more tragic ending.
There are almost 570 successful summit stories so far this season.
The summit success rate stands at 56%…that’s a little higher than normal and with over 1200 people climbing this year, the final numbers could put it in the top 10 years for highest number of summits.