by Phillip Manning ~ July 17th, 2013
Climbing season on Denali has officially ended. As of Wednesday, Park Service says there are no climbers remaining on the mountain. This year’s red lantern climber is Dave Hahn, a guide for Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. Hahn and his group summited on Saturday before descending and returning to Talkeetna early Wednesday morning. Hahn arrived back at base camp after even the mountaineering rangers and camp manager had returned to Talkeetna. The expedition led by Hahn made the last summit trip in what has been a record-breaking climbing season.
The final summit success rate is sixty-eight percent, which is the highest it has been since 1977. A total of 1151 climbers attempted North America’s tallest peak, and 787 climbers reached the top. That sets a new record for the most summits in a single year.
Some of the individual treks were historic as well. On June 28th, a team made up of the descendants of the original summit party retraced their ancestors’ steps all the way to the top. On the same day, Tom Choate of Anchorage became the oldest person to reach the summit at seventy-eight years old. He first climbed Denali fifty years ago.
According to the Park Service, there was one fatality due to cardiac arrest, and only five climbers had to be assisted off the mountain by rangers. Of those, two were due to illness, and three were the result of what Park spokesperson Maureen McLaughlin describes as minor climbing injuries. The average number of rescues in a season is closer to fifteen.
This year’s numbers are especially impressive when compared to last year, when the summit rate was only forty-two percent, and six climbers perished in climbing accidents. One hundred years after the first successful ascent, 2013 will also likely be remembered as a special year on Denali.