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: 2012

Denali National Park and Preserve summary. Sadly, nine climbers died in the Alaska Range during 2011, making it the third deadliest year on record. The impact of these losses is not something that can be put into words. In addition 36 climbers were stricken with injuries or illnesses that required medical intervention by NPS rangers and volunteers. While 2011 was a year of tragedy, adversity often brought out the best from the Denali climbing community. There were a number courageous acts worthy of the 2011 Mislow-Swanson Denali Pro Award, but it was given to Bobby Schnell, a paramedic who in the middle of the night carried out a life-saving operation on a climber critically injured after a long fall from Denali Pass.

On Denali 687 climbers reached the summit by a variety of routes, a success rate of just over half. On Foraker the number was just five.

After years of public engagement, a decision was reached to increase the climbing fee from $200 to $350 ($250 for age 24 and under). Though it was a difficult process that at times put the NPS at odds with members of the climbing community, the increased revenue will help sustain our program at necessary levels, particularly at a time when NPS operating budgets are shrinking. We are grateful to the American Alpine Club, the Access Fund, and the American Mountain Guides Association, which worked closely with us to help guide the process and build consensus around what was once a highly contentious issue.

Throughout the range there were several ascents, and one descent, that are not reported below but are worthy of note. British climbers Jonathan Griffiths and Will Sim climbed the Cassin Ridge on Denali in 14 hours and 40 minutes from bergschrund to Kahiltna Horn. This is about 20 minutes faster than Mugs Stump’s 1991 ascent. Neither Stump nor the British visited the true summit, and the fastest time to the mountain’s highest point is unknown. On May 23rd Andreas Fransson completed the first ski descent of Denali’s south face, following for the most part the Haston-Scott route. Icy conditions forced him to downclimb one section, and he made four rappels.

Colin Haley and Nils Nielsen climbed Deprivation to the top of the north buttress of Hunter in just nine hours. There they were caught in a storm and unable to complete the route to the summit. Koreans Choi Suk-mun, Park Heeyong, and Park Jongil were the only climbers to reach the summit via the north buttress, with their mid-May ascent of the Bibler-Klewin/ Moonflower—possibly only the 13th or 14th time this route has been climbed to the summit.

Over on Huntington, John Frieh and Jason Stuckey made the second winter ascent, via the West Face Couloir. Starting early on March 19, they climbed the route in a 23-hour round trip from camp. A month later Tim Dittman and Jared Vilhauer made it through most of the difficulties on the Phantom Wall, but at their high bivouac Vilhauer became violently ill with flu, and the pair retreated. This route awaits a second ascent.

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

Summarized from the Denali National Park and Preserve Mountaineering Summary

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