American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Mountaineering Statistics

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Denali National Park, Mountaineering Statistics. This past climbing season is the second time since 1991 that the mountain did not claim any lives. Unrelenting high winds contributed to a summit rate of less than 20 percent during the month of May. Later in the season, stretches of moderate weather allowed more mountaineers to reach the top of McKinley. This raised the overall summit percentage for the season to 43 percent. The historical summit rate dating back to 1903 remains at 51 percent.

The 1998-’99 winter season on Denali saw intense cold weather and high winds. This led to an early retreat for three expeditions. Although no climbers summitted Mt. McKinley this past winter, one climber summitted Mt. Foraker, although not in time to be considered a winter ascent. (See below.)

Mountaineering in Denali National Park and Preserve has increased dramatically over the years. In 1984, 695 climbers attempted to climb McKinley; this past year, that number almost doubled to 1,183 climbers on the mountain’s slopes. In 1995, the National Park Service started a three-pronged approach to attempt to reduce the number of accidents and deaths and to support those efforts using funds paid by climbers. This program consists of a 60-day preregistration requirement, a climbing special-use fee and a preventative search and rescue and education program. From 1990 through 1994, Denali averaged 12 mountaineering rescues per year. After the implementation of the 60-day pre-registration requirement and with an aggressive education program, the average number of major rescue missions decreased by 23.2 percent. The number of climbers on the mountain increased by ten percent during the same time frame. Fatal accidents also decreased from an average of four per year to two per year. Since the implementation of the current program, a dramatic reduction in the number of foreign rescues and fatalities has also occurred.

There were nine major mountaineering incidents in 1999 involving 15 mountaineers. The National Park Service spent $101,223 for mountaineering-related search and rescue activities. The military spent an additional $115,604 assisting in these incidents.

Denali National Park initiated a fuel can monitoring system this past season to record the number of fuel cans being used and illegally discarded on the mountain. The ultimate goal of this project is to ensure that all fuel cans used on expeditions are removed from the mountain. While some data collection took place in 1998, this year’s concerted effort to track the cans met with considerable success. During the registration process, expeditions were assigned a can number which was then written on every gallon of white gas carried out of the Kahiltna Base Camp where fuel is stored. We hope climbers will assist us in these efforts in the years to come.

Denali National Park Reports

Mountain/Route

Teams

Climbers

Successful Teams



MOUNT MCKINLEY

Cassin

4

8

2



East Face

1

1

0



Messner Couloir

3

4

3



Muldrow Glacier

5

26

1



Muldrow Glacier Traverse

1

3

1



Northwest Buttress

1

2

1



Orient Express

1

2

1



Pioneer Ridge

1

4

0



West Buttress

263

996

141



West Buttress Traverse

5

34

2



West Rib

18

60

7



Upper West Rib

13

40

6



Wickersham Wall

1

2

0



Total

318

1183

164



Statistics for Foraker and Hunter were missing from the web site. However, the Denali National Park Ranger’s station was kind enough to pass on the following. On the Foraker front for 1999, a total of 22 climbers attempted the mountain, with 12 climbers reaching the summit via the Sultana Ridge. For Mount Hunter, out of the 48 climbers that voluntarily registered with us, there was one reported summit by two climbers via the West Ridge.

Denali National Park Reports

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