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Climber who died descending Denali identified

The climber who died on Denali last Friday has been identified.

The National Park Service says 28-year-old Sanjay Pandit of Nepal was descending the mountain with two teammates when he succumbed to an unidentified illness.

Pandit collapsed at 17,500 feet on the West Buttress Route. The West Buttress is the path that the majority of climbers attempting Denali use.

Rangers responded to the scene and attempted to revive Pandit, but were unsuccessful. He was declared deceased at the scene, and his remains were taken to High Camp at 17,200 feet. His remains have not been flown off of Denali yet due to inclement weather.

Susitna Writer’s Voice–StarDate Susitna 6-18-2017, by Kathleen Fleming

Kathleen for StarDate

The activities of the moon, an explanation of Summer Solstice (the exact time is 8:24 Tuesday the 20th at this latitude), and more about what to expect if you’re traveling to or near the path of totality for this August’s total solar eclipse.

Inaugural Pride event to be held in Talkeetna

A large Pride flag at Pride Fest in Anchorage.  Photo courtesy of Lillian Rust

A large Pride flag at Pride Fest in Anchorage. Photo courtesy of Lillian Rust

June is Pride month, a time when LGBTQ+ community members and their allies hold events around the country. This year, some local youth plan to hold a Pride parade in Talkeetna for the first time. KTNA’s Phillip Manning spoke with one of the organizers and has this story.

 

In a short period of time, what began as an idea between friends has turned into plans for Talkeetna’s first Pride parade. Lillian Rust is one of the organizers. She says the parade and gathering on June 25th is something she’s wanted to do for a while.

“I’ve been wanting to do something really big for Talkeetna to bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ community, and we’ve never had anything like this before. I think that having something to recognize these really unique and sometimes not represented niches of society, I think it’s really important.” Read More »

Climber dies of illness on Denali

This story is developing, and will be updated as more information becomes available.

A climber has died on Denali as the result of an unknown illness, according to the National Park Service.

Maureen Gualtieri, spokeswoman for Denali National Park, says a ranger patrol was contacted around 1:00 am on Friday after a climber collapsed at an elevation of 17,500 feet. When rangers arrived, the climber was unresponsive. Rangers attempted emergency care, but the climber did not regain consciousness, and was declared deceased.

The climber’s family has not yet been notified, and the climber’s name has not been released.

Denali Report for June 16th, 2017: Warm weather and low summit rate

Denali in spring of 2017.  Photo:  Phillip Manning - KTNA

Denali in spring of 2017. Photo: Phillip Manning – KTNA

As of Thursday, 1,169 people are registered to attempt Denali this year. Of those, 399 are on the mountain, and 650 climbs have been completed. Of those 185 people have reached the top of Denali, making the summit rate twenty-eight percent.

Fourteen climbers are registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. Two are on the mountain, and twelve climbs have been completed. No one has made it to the top of Mt. Foraker thus far in 2017.

If the last climber were to come off the mountain today, the summit rate of twenty-eight percent on Denali would be the lowest in more than fifty years. Last year’s climbing season also saw a slow start, with a spike in summits in June. Ultimately, last year’s summit rate ended up at sixty percent. According to the National Park Service, around 120 climbers were at “High Camp” at 17,200 feet as of Wednesday. That could mean a substantial bump in summit numbers if a weather window opens. In order to reach last year’s above-average summit rate, nearly every climber remaining to attempt Denali would have to make it to the top.

Weather is always a major player in Denali’s climbing season. In the last week, areas low on the mountain, including Base Camp, saw temperatures well above freezing, and even some rain. Last Friday, a report from base camp included waist-deep slush, and a glacier “riddled with crevasses.” At the same time, climbers high on the mountain retreated to Fourteen Camp due to sustained winds. Climbers looking to descend from Fourteen were advised to stay put and wait for colder weather.

That colder weather did eventually arrive. Wednesday’s weather report showed base camp below freezing once again, and the ground has begun to firm up once more. No crevasse falls were reported during the warm spell.

News from the Ranger Station 6-15-2017

Artwork for the special flag that will be presented to climbers who complete a full pack out of human waste in 2017. Photo courtesy of Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station

Artwork for the special flag that will be presented to climbers who complete a full pack out of human waste in 2017. Photo courtesy of Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station

 

In this weekly segment, produced by the staff of the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, we learn about the history of dealing with human waste on Denali, the trend toward Clean Mountain Can use, and hear some questions being pondered for the future.

 

 

 

Talkeetna sewer and water customers will see rate hike in July

Starting next month, customers of the Talkeetna Sewer and Water system will see higher bills.

The rate changes happened as part of the budget process, but are not technically part of the budget itself.

Both residential and commercial users will see a rate increase of close to twenty percent beginning in July. Residential water and sewer bills will now total $138 per month. Commercial users’ base bill will be just over $200. In addition, the fee for commercial users who go over a set amount of usage will see their fees for additional water increase by one-fourth.

An accompanying explanation says that the Talkeetna sewer and water system continues to operate at a deficit, and that a rate increase is needed to help close the gap.

This year marks the third in a row with increased sewer and water rates. In October, voters residing inside the sewer and water district will choose whether or not to levy a sales tax in the district to pay for the system. In past interviews, Mat-Su Borough Assembly Member Randall Kowalke (kuh-WALL-kee) has said that his hope is that the proposed tax could eventually bring in enough money to bring rates back down.

Workshop features natural building methods

Lasse Holmes (L) looks on as workshop participants apply the methods he is teaching. Photo: Katie Writer - KTNA

Lasse Holmes (L) looks on as workshop participants apply the methods he is teaching. Photo: Katie Writer – KTNA

by:  Katie Writer – KTNA

The summer months can feel rather manic for many Alaskans who are constructing homes and building additions on others.

Recently, a group of natural builders gathered in Talkeetna to insulate a ‘shop type building’ for Northern Susitna Institute.

The Light Straw Clay Insulation technique was then taught in a workshop on June 10th, led by Lasse Holmes.

Mr. Holmes has been teaching workshops around the country for over decade and is also known as an expert on the rocket mass heater.

KTNA’s Katie Writer spoke with instructor, Lasse Holmes of Canyon Arts School of Natural Building about the advantages of using natural materials.

Read More »

MEA provides additional information on Thursday’s power surge

More details have been made public regarding last Thursday’s power surge and outage in the Northern Susitna Valley.

According to Matanuska Electric Association spokeswoman Cassi Campbell, multiple lightning strikes over the course of about forty-five minutes were the cause of a power surge that damaged MEA infrastructure. In addition, many area residents report damage to surge protectors and electronics across the area.

The first lightning strike hit the main transmission like shortly after 5:00 pm on Thursday. Campbell says that strike affected two substations servicing the area from Willow to Talkeetna. Much of the Willow area lost power temporarily as a result.

All power was restored by around midnight. One of the last locations to come back online was the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge at Mile 133 of the Parks Highway.

Campbell says MEA has a form that members who suffered damage to property as a result of the surge can fill out. She says a third-party insurer will review the claims. The insurer will determine whether the damages resulted from negligence on the part of MEA.

MEA also has a briefing available online on various types of surge protectors, their efficacy, and their proper use.