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.