Denali National Park, Mountaineering Statistics. Most weather forecasters will attribute the strange 1998 climbing season facts to El Niño: the Park saw a 100% success rate this past year for winter ascents of Mt. McKinley, and a 36% success rate during the peak climbing season. The three mountaineers who made it to the top of North America’s highest peak in winter (see “Climbs and Expeditions: Alaska,” in the 1998 AAJ) thanked El Niño’s warmer winter temperatures for their successful summit, while the majority of McKinley’s peak season climbers cursed its unseasonably snowy and windy weather.
During the regular climbing season (from April to July this year), only 420 climbers reached the summit of Mt. McKinley. This represents the lowest success rate in the past ten years. For almost a century the average success rate has been about 50%. Climbers faced some harsh conditions this spring and were forced to wait out many severe storms. The low summit success rate was disappointing for climbers, but there was also a fairly low number of fatalities this past season. For the most part, climbers were staying put during the inclement weather and not taking unnecessary risks.
The longer an expedition stayed on the mountain, the greater their chance for a successful summit bid. The average time spent on the mountain for all expeditions was 17 days. For a successful summit team, the average length of stay was 21 days.
TOTAL CLIMBERS BY ROUTE
Muldrow Glacier Traverse
West Buttress Traverse
Upper West Rib
Wall of Shadows
Climbers on Mt. Hunter are not required to register with the National Park Service, so statistics are not complete. However, reports indicate that none of the attempts on the mountain were successful.
Denali National Park Reports