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Denali Report: It’s Windy Up There!

by Phillip Manning ~ May 21st, 2015

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for the Denali Report .

Currently, there are 929 people registered to attempt Denali.  Of those, 358 are currently on the mountain.  Twenty-six climbs have been completed, and there his still only been one summit thus far, which means the current summit rate for 2015 is 3%.  Eleven climbers have registered to climb Mt. Foraker, and three are currently on the mountain.  Four trips have been completed with four summits.

This year, the National Park Service launched a new blog to share statistics and updates about mountaineering in the Alaska Range. The new blog, titled “Denali Dispatches,” builds on the daily climbing and weather statistics that have been available online in previous years.

Thus far, the Denali climbing season has seen very little success.  There is only one recorded summit for 2015, and that was Lonnie Dupre, who reached the highest point in North America back in January.  Denali National Park spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri says that there have been at least two more summits, but the climbers have not returned yet, so they aren’t part of the official record.

The Denali Dispatches blog provides some insight as to why the summit percentage is in the single digits, currently.  The short answer: Wind.  Thursday’s update described winds gusting to nearly fifty miles-per-hour at 14,000 feet, and descriptions from High Camp at 17,000 feet say that the wind “sounds like a freight train.”  According to the blog, about 100 climbers are camped at 14,000 feet waiting for the wind to die down.  With them are two patrol teams, who have been turned around multiple times by the gusty conditions when they tried to reach High Camp.  Until the winds die down, it’s unlikely that many people will complete the trip to the top of North America.

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