American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Denali National Park and Preserve, Summary

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008

Denali National Park and Preserve, summary. The 2007 climbing season began with the first solo winter ascent of Mt. Foraker, by the renowned Japanese climber Masatoshi Kuriaki. This “Wind Warrior” of the Alaska Range posted the only successful ascent of Foraker out of 21 attempts this season [reported in the 2007AAJ— Ed.].

We conducted 19 search and rescue missions, involving five fatalities, reminding us again how fragile life is in the Alaska Range. These incidents involved climbing falls, crevasse falls, rappel failure, snow blindness, an avalanche, altitude sickness, and other medical problems. Along with numerous medical transports of patients from the 14,200' camp on Denali, the NPS-contracted Lama Helicopter, flown by pilot Jim Hood, performed two operational short-haul rescues this season in terrain outside our typical focus area, including a day-hiker on Mt. Healy near park headquarters and a distressed hiker in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

Congratulations go to Denali Pro Award winners Heidi Kloos and Robert Durnell, guides for Mountain Trip International, for their selfless assistance to other climbers during a particularly grueling rescue mission.

The South District staff continued to investigate and penalize businesses offering unauthorized commercial services within the park, both in the aviation and mountain-guiding realms. This year, working with the United States Attorney’s Office, we conducted two undercover investigations. One of these investigations led to the execution of a search warrant, and charges are pending in the case. The other investigation resulted in the cancellation of climbing permits for illegally guided clients. This past season the National Park Service cancelled over one hundred registrations for climbers involved—knowingly or unknowingly—with illegal businesses.

Quick Statistics—Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker:

Mt. McKinley: Average trip length: 16.8 days. Average trip length for groups that summited: 17.6 days. Busiest summit day: June 12, with 77 summits. Summit breakdown by month: June (379), May (177), July (15). Average age: 37. Women constituted 12% of all climbers.

Forty-five nations were represented on Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker, including U.S. (729 climbers), U.K. (64), Canada (50), Germany (39), and Spain (36).

McKinley was attempted by 1,218 climbers, with 47% reaching the summit; 1,099 attempted the West Buttress, with 47% summiting. Twenty-one climbers attempted Mt. Foraker, with only Masatoshi Kuriaki summiting.

The complete Mountaineering Summary can be found at www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/summaryreports.htm

Summarized from the Denali National Park & Preserve Annual Mountaineering Summary

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