Denali Report for May 20th, 2016: First Summits

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.

While weather in the lowlands has been cloudy for much of the week, the National Park Service reports that there have been periods of clear skies in the Alaska Range.


The first nine people to reach Denali’s summit all made it on Friday, May 13th. The nine climbers were members of three teams: Team Wolverine Traverse, Team Mustang, and the two man team that called themselves “The Worst Mountaineers Ever.” Alaska Dispatch news reports that Team Wolverine Traverse did not ascend Denali by the popular West Buttress Route, but rather by the Muldrow and Harper glaciers, climbing by a similar route to the first successful climb of North America’s highest mountain in 1913.


One notable group returning to attempt Denali again this year is Mission Memorial Day. The team is made up of combat veterans who will take flags covered with names of fallen soldiers. If weather cooperates, they hope to stand at North America’s highest point with those flags on Memorial Day. According to the team’s website, the goal is to refocus the country on the reason for Memorial Day.


Also this week, Sheldon Air Service moved a new radio antenna to base camp. Most communication on the mountain is through walkie-talkies operating on the family band of frequencies. Sheldon Air’s Holly Sheldon says they also plan to use one channel to repeat KTNA’s signal to climbers on Denali.



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