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Mountain Rescue signals the start of Denali Climbing Season

by KTNA Staff ~ April 24th, 2012

By Amanda Randles

The signs of spring are everywhere – returning birds, lots of mud, summer businesses opening up.  But in Talkeetna, there’s another sure sign of spring – the sound of helicopters shuttling equipment up to Denali’s basecamp for the start of another climbing season.  Amanda Randles has this look at the climbing season to come:

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It seems there are already climbers everywhere in downtown Talkeetna this year, though National Park Service spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin says the numbers aren’t much different than other years at this time.  Despite basecamp going in this week, with the first mountaineer rangers to follow in a few days, there are already 5 climbers in the range, in two different parties.  And there has already been a rescue.  McLaughlin says a climber was injured after he fell 150 feet on the Moose’s Tooth early saturday:

cut 1 0:35 “it was early in the morning…..brought the gentleman right to providence.”

The climber was released from the hospital on monday.

The Helicopters shuttling equipment for the rangers, fuel stores, and the necessities for basecamp are different this year.  In years past the Chinooks came down from Fairbanks, but they weren’t available for the operation this time.  Instead, it’s a fleet of Blackhawks.

cut 2 0:46 “this year the Chinook…at a later point in time.”

McLaughlin says in a few days the first Park service patrols will head up to basecamp on the Kahiltna glacier to get set up, led by ranger Roger Robinson.  Soon after, they will begin climbing patrols in the lower peaks.  Patrols out of the 14-thousand foot camp are set to begin on April 28th.

There will be two new research expeditions this year, both testing medication efficacy at high altitude.  there is also an ongoing study out of the University of Maine studying ice mass in the range that will continue this year.  Roger Robinson is also leading a special group of volunteers on the mountain:

cut 3 0:20 “and this year he’s got a pretty cool group…. for next year.”

2013 will be the 100th anniversary of the first successful ascent on Denali.  The descendants of that first successful climbing party will spend this year as volunteers on the mountain.

McLaughlin says overall, they are hoping for a positive season, after last year – where 9 climbers were killed throughout the range, six on Denali.  there were 13 total incidents in the range during the 2011 season – rescues as well as fatalities.

cut 4 0:16 “we are anxious to find out… good safe season for everybody.”

The general climbing season will continue until mid-July.

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