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.
On Wednesday, Denali National Park staff posted an entry to the mountaineering blog advising climbers not to “cry wolf,” with their emergency GPS systems. While advancements in GPS technology have aided in wilderness rescues in recent years, accidental activation, or activation to test the system when on the mountain, could result in the mobilization of an unnecessary, and costly, rescue effort.
For those who bring an emergency GPS device, park officials say that a device offering two-way communication is very helpful in the event of an emergency. In addition, the National Park Service advises climbers to become familiar with how their device works, both to make it more useful in an emergency and to prevent accidental activation. Finally, park officials say it’s important to establish expectations with friends and family who may be monitoring a GPS device from afar and who may otherwise become unduly concerned about the lack of regular check-ins, since a number of non-emergency situations could cause a check-in message to be missed.
Finally, the ranger and volunteer teams that have assisted climbers throughout the season are winding down operations. Two patrols remain on the mountain, and the breakdown of some equipment has already begun. Before long, the thousand-plus climbers of this year’s mountaineering season will have come and gone.