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Posts from the 'Denali Report' category

Denali Report for July 7th, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

In total, just under 1,200 people registered to climb Denali this year. Of those, sixty-five are currently making their attempts, and 1,125 climbs have been completed. The current summit rate for Denali is forty percent, with 442 people making it to the highest point in North America. All eleven climbers registered to attempt Mt. Foraker have completed their attempts, with none making it to the summit.

The coming of Independence Day each year usually means that climbing season is nearing a close. This year is no exception. As of Thursday, all National Park Service mountaineering patrols have returned from Denali. In addition, camp infrastructure for the park service as well as private air services has largely been returned to Talkeetna.

On the 4th, mountaineers and one patrol took advantage of the calm weather on Denali to reach the summit. Recent weeks have seen the summit rate climb by thirteen percent.

The sixty-five climbers remaining on the mountain as of Thursday are all well above base camp. Rangers report that travel on the lower glaciers is still possible during the cooler early morning hours. While the vast majority of climbers have completed their attempts, the National Park Service doesn’t consider the season finished until the last pair of boots has left Denali for the lowlands.

Denali Report for June 30th, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017
There's no such thing as having too much fun on Denali, Patrol #5 enjoys a well-deserved day of silliness at the Edge of World, following a long week+ of patient care and emergency management. NPS Photo/Melis Coady

There’s no such thing as having too much fun on Denali, Patrol #5 enjoys a well-deserved day of silliness at the Edge of World, following a long week+ of patient care and emergency management. NPS Photo/Melis Coady

This week on the Denali Report: As climbing season begins to wind down, conditions on Denali mean crevasse falls are a continuing hazard. Also, the summit rate has gone up a bit, but is still well below normal. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.

 

With registrations complete for the 2017 climbing season, just under 1,200 people signed up to attempt Denali. Of those, 179 are currently on the mountain, and just over a thousand have completed their attempts. A total of 359 people made it to the top of Denali, resulting in a summit rate of 36%. While that summit rate is definitely below average, it is a significant improvement from last week, when the summit percentage was in the high twenties. It is still mathematically possible for the summit rate to get close to a typical number near 50%, but it would involve nearly every climber still on the mountain reaching the top.

Lower areas of Denali are seeing warm late season temperatures, with highs above freezing. National Park Service rangers report that the lower Kahiltna Glacier is still travelable, but that climbers should exercise caution, since areas away from the packed trail have resulted in falls.

Conditions higher on the mountain are favorable, a factor that contributed to the increased summit rate in recent days. Weather in the Talkeetna area delayed the departure of the final team of rangers and volunteers who will patrol Denali. Typically, climbing season winds down quickly in July as warm temperatures make glacier travel and landing airplanes more hazardous.

 

 

 

Denali Report for June 9, 2017: Crevasse Rescue

Friday, June 9, 2017
Martin Takac was trapped in a sixty foot crevasse for about sixteen hours before rescuers could reach him.  NPS Photo/Frank Preston

Martin Takac was trapped in a sixty foot crevasse for about sixteen hours before rescuers could reach him. NPS Photo/Frank Preston

This week on the Denali Report, KTNA’s Phillip Manning discusses an increase in the summit rate and the emergency rescue of a climber that combined efforts of guides, rangers, and volunteers.

As predicted by mountaineering rangers last week, the summit rate on Denali has finally started to rise significantly. As of Thursday, it was listed at thirty-six percent, with over 150 climbers having made it to the top of the mountain.

This week also saw a harrowing rescue on Denali. Tucker Chenoweth, South District Ranger for Denali National Park and Preserve, says warming temperatures mean this time of year is often the most dangerous for crevasse falls. Late Sunday evening, Slovak climber Martin Takac fell into a crevasse near “Camp One” on Denali. Takac was climbing with a partner, but the two were not roped together. His partner saw the fall and went to base camp for help.

Tucker Chenoweth says guides from Mountain Trip guide service responded to the scene, but quickly realized they were not equipped to free Takac from the deep, narrow crevasse.

“[The] initial report was forty feet. It ended up being more like sixty feet down in a crevasse that was twelve to fifteen inches wide, and not straight down. It kind of arced, so you couldn’t even see

View from the top of the crevasse, with Martin Takac and a rescuer inside, but not visible from the surface. NPS Photo/Frank Preston

View from the top of the crevasse, with Martin Takac and a rescuer inside, but not visible from the surface. NPS Photo/Frank Preston

[Takac] from the top.” (more…)

Denali Report for June 2nd, 2017: Weather Forecasting

Friday, June 2, 2017
Denali in March of 2017.  Photo by Phillip Manning - KTNA

Denali in March of 2017. Photo by Phillip Manning – KTNA

This week on the Denali Report, KTNA’s Phillip Manning discusses the incredibly low summit rate, and speaks with a forecaster from the National Weather Service about trying to predict the weather on Denali.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,061 climbers are registered to attempt Denali. Of those, 596 are currently on the mountain, and 225 have returned. Only twenty people have reached the summit of Denali thus far in 2017, making the summit rate eight percent.

That could soon change, however. With the recent clear weather, the National Park Service estimates that about a hundred people made an attempt for the summit on Wednesday.

The holiday weekend was also a busy one for rangers and volunteers. Multiple cases of frostbite were reported, one serious enough to warrant a medevac. In addition, one climber was flown off the mountain after falling into a crevasse.

Weather is a major factor in the difficulty of climbing Denali. Each climbing season since the ‘80s, the National Weather Service puts out special forecasts centered on the mountain. I spoke with forecaster Ed Plumb earlier this week about the forecast and how it differs from those available from private companies.

In the case of some forecasts, Plumb says a single model is used to try to predict the weather. At the National Weather Service, Ed Plumb says he and his colleagues use multiple models and see which ones are making better predictions based on available data. Those blended outlooks are then combined with input from experienced meteorologists, some of whom have been working on the mountain forecast for three decades.

While the data sets for the forecasts are limited, just two sets of observations per day from two camps on Denali, Ed Plumb says input from the National Park Service and other people experienced on the ground in the Alaska Range can greatly contribute to the ability of the National Weather Service to put out a more accurate forecast. His recent visit to Talkeetna allowed Plumb to visit base camp himself and speak the people who are using the forecast.

Ed Plumb says input from the National Park Service and the mountaineering community will impact how the National Weather Service creates and delivers the Denali forecast in order to make it more useful and more accurate.

 

 

 

Denali Report for May 26th, 2017: Stepping up the game on Denali’s human waste

Thursday, May 25, 2017

 

Climber Corneliu Turturica displaying his full pack out flag and demonstrating an unusual use for a clean mountain can.  Photo courtesy of Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station.

Climber Corneliu Turturica displaying his full pack out flag and demonstrating an unusual use for a clean mountain can. Photo courtesy of Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station.

This week on the Denali Report, the summit rate remains relatively low, and veteran mountaineering ranger Roger Robinson tells KTNA’s Phillip Manning about the plan to celebrate Denali National Park’s 100th birthday by not leaving it a certain kind of present.

 

This is the Denali Report for Friday, May 26th, 2017.

There are 1,023 climbers registered to climb Denali this year. Of those, 463 were on the mountain as of Thursday afternoon. Just over a hundred people have returned from their attempt, and twenty have reached the top, making the current summit rate twenty percent. Sixteen climbers are registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. Six people are currently on the mountain, and seven have returned. Nobody has reached the summit of Mt. Foraker thus far in 2017.

Earlier in the season I spoke with Roger Robinson about a special initiative Denali National Park rangers are encouraging climbers to participate in. Robinson has been a pioneer in keeping Denali clean, and was instrumental in introducing the “Clean Mountain Can” program to help keep some human waste off the mountain. This year, he and other mountaineering rangers are asking climbers to volunteer to pack out all of their human waste from their expeditions. (more…)

Denali Report for July 1st, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

 

As of Thursday, 1,139 climbers are registered to attempt Denali, and 170 are on the mountain. Nine hundred, fifty-two climbs have been completed, and 574 people have made it to North America’s highest point, making the current summit rate sixty percent. Sixteen climbers attempted Mt. Foraker this season, with seven making it to the summit.

 

After a rocky start, the summit rate for Denali this year has continued to steadily rise. Prolonged storms kept early climbers from reaching the top of the mountain, but those who came later have had markedly better luck as far as the weather is concerned. As the season winds down, however, the National Weather Service is advising mountaineers to prepare for potentially heavy snowfall through today. (more…)

Denali Report for June 10th, 2016: Team Lebanon

Friday, June 10, 2016
Team Lebanon on the summit of Denali.  Photo by Dustin English - Alaska Mountaineering school, photo courtesy of Team Lebanon

Team Lebanon on the summit of Denali. Photo by Dustin English – Alaska Mountaineering school, photo courtesy of Team Lebanon

 

This week on the Denali Report, updated statistics on this year’s mountaineering season, plus KTNA’s Phillip Manning speaks with the first all-Lebanese team to summit Denali.

 

 

In total, 1,075 climbers have registered to attempt Denali. Of those, 502 are currently on the mountain, and 376 climbs have been completed. There have been 162 summits of Denali so far, making the summit rate forty-three percent. Sixteen people are registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. All sixteen have completed their climbs, and seven made it to the summit, making the 2016 summit rate for Mt. Foraker forty-four percent.

 

Over the past week, the number of mountaineers who summited Denali increased dramatically. Team Lebanon was among them, and is the first all-Lebanese team to make it to the summit. After they returned to Talkeetna, Phillip Manning spoke with the members of the team.

(more…)

Denali Report for June 3rd, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

This week on the Denali Report, KTNA’s Phillip Manning updates this season’s climbing statistics and speaks with a climber who just broke an impressive record.

 

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,029 climbers have registered to attempt Denali, and 523 are currently on the mountain. 227 climbs have been completed, and forty-two people have made it to the highest point in North America. The summit rate so far for Denali is quite low for the season at eighteen percent. Eighteen climbers have registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. Nine climbers are currently on the mountain, and nine have completed their climbs. There have been two summits of Mt. Foraker thus far in 2016.

 

While Denali’s summit rate is very low, some people have managed to make it to the top of North America. One of those people is Colin O’Brady. O’Brady’s summiting of Denali marks his completion of the Explorer’s Grand Slam. Not only does he join the list of fewer than fifty people to complete the challenge, but he is by far the fastest to do so. With a name like “Explorer’s Grand Slam,” one would expect an epic challenge, and the name does not disappoint, as Colin O’Brady explains.

 

“The Explorer’s Grand Slam is a mountaineering challenge to climb the Seven Summits, so the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents, plus an expedition across the last degree of both the North and South Poles.” (more…)

Denali Report for May 20th, 2016: First Summits

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Climbing season is well underway, and the first climbers have reached the summit of North America’s highest peak. Here’s KTNA’s Phillip Manning with this week’s Denali Report.

 

 

This is the Denali Report for Friday, May 20th, 2016. I’m Phillip Manning.

 

Currently, 940 climbers are registered to attempt Denali, and 321 are currently on the mountain. Thirty climbers have completed their treks, and nine have made it to Denali’s summit, making the current summit rate thirty percent. Eighteen climbers are registered to attempt Mount Foraker. Of those, eleven are currently on the mountain, and two climbs have been completed. There have been no summits of Mount Foraker so far this season.

(more…)