FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2016, file photo sightseeing buses and tourists are seen at a pullout popular for taking in views of North America's tallest peak, Denali, in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. A climber was killed and another was significantly injured when they were hit by a falling block of glacier ice in Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve, an official said Friday, May 14, 2021. The two were hit by the hanging serac after it dislodged from a peak off the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

Risky, impatient climbers bring danger to US highest peak

Risky, impatient climbers bring danger to US highest peak

Rangers who keep an eye on North America’s highest mountain peak say impatient and inexperienced climbers are taking more risks and endangering themselves and other climbers after a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Denali in southern Alaska is 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) above sea level and requires a level of expertise and acclimation to high altitudes not needed for climbing most peaks in the U.S.

“We have seen a disturbing amount of overconfidence paired with inexperience in the Alaska Range,” the National Park Service wrote in a statement issued Thursday. The remoteness and extreme weather in Alaska pose extra risks, even for climbers may have a good deal of experience at elevations up to 14,000 feet in the Lower 48.

After reporting no deaths in 2018 and 2019, at least two people have already died on the mountain in 2021. Two others were seriously injured, authorities said.

Earlier this month, a skier from Colorado died after falling into a crevasse. A climber from Idaho was killed by a falling block of glacier ice, rangers reported.

The rangers issued their statement after a Canadian climber was seriously injured in a nearly 1,000-foot (305 meters) fall. He was not wearing ropes. Other climbers reported the fall, and a nearby helicopter doing glacier surveys was able to rescue the man, park officials said.

In recent years, rangers said they have seen more climbers try to make Denali’s summit by climbing the 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) from the final base camp to the top in one day, which is almost impossible except for the most experienced climbers.

“Exhaustion, untested physiological response to high altitude, rapidly changing weather and insufficient gear on such a long push are all factors we have seen contribute to injuries and deaths,” the Park Service statement said.

Experts recommend taking 17 to 21 days to climb Denali. That includes rest days and extra days to wait out extreme weather. Many expeditions get “desperation, impatience and summit fever” when they are running out of days and take risks, rangers said.

Officials at Denali also are seeing people leave their original climbing groups after reaching the final base camp at 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) when the groups are reluctant to go for the summit. Instead, the climbers join other groups or individuals they just met.

Sometimes those people get too sick to keep going and are crammed into tents with other more prepared climbers, using their water and fuel. “A number of climbing teams have had their own summit bids disrupted or ruined by the need to care for these climbers,” the statement said.

The statement also reminded climbers that the National Park Service rescues people only when their lives, limbs or eyesight are at risk.

“Anything that we deem falls outside these categories, we will leave you to figure out on your own, and this year we have already turned down rescue requests that don’t meet these criteria,” they said.

The Park Service limits the number of people who can climb Denali to less than 1,500 per year. In 2019, 726 people made the summit, according to the agency.

The busiest time for climbing Denali is May and June. The cold weather is a problem in the spring, and storms become more frequent in the summer.

The forecast for the summit Sunday called for a 40% chance of snow with temperatures from minus 10 to 0 Fahrenheit (-23 to -18 Celsius) and winds up to 35 mph (56 kph), according to the National Weather Service.

Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press

rock climbing

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

A Comox Valley 55+ baseball team isa being organized for the 2021 season. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
18U AAA Carstar Braves start season strong

The Red Deer Carstar 18U AAA Carstar Braves started the Baseball Alberta… Continue reading

(Contributed image).
Online poetry reading to benefit Red Deer women experiencing period poverty

The Period Promise Poetry Powerhouse is a central Alberta collective of some… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron, right, celebrates after scoring on Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Montreal hangs on for 3-2 win to even series with Golden Knights at a game each

Canadiens 3 Golden Knights 2 (Series tied 1-1) LAS VEGAS — Montreal… Continue reading

New York Yankees Gary Sanchez celebrates his two-run home run during the seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Cole, Sánchez, Chapman come through as Yanks edge Blue Jays

Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2 BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gerrit Cole pitched eight… Continue reading

Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young, right, is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers' Matisse Thybulle during the second half of Game 5 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Hawks rally from 26 points down, stun 76ers in Game 5

Hawks 109 76ers 106 (Atlanta leads series 3-2) PHILADELPHIA — Trae Young… Continue reading

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

OTTAWA — Annamie Paul is firing back against the coterie of party… Continue reading

Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan leaves the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Bill to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clears Senate

OTTAWA — A landmark piece of Liberal legislation aimed at harmonizing Canada’s… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) flips a shot on New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Russian goalies highlight Lightning-Islanders series

NEW YORK — Semyon Varlamov is the wily veteran, coming off a… Continue reading

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime reacts during his ATP Tour Singles, Men, Round of 16 tennis match against Switzerland's Roger Federer in Halle, Germany, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Friso Gentsch-dpa via AP
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Roger Federer in second round of Noventi Open

HALLE, Germany — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime earned one of the biggest victories… Continue reading

A course official keeps out of the sun on the seventh green during a practice round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A different US Open than imagined at Torrey Pines

The spectacular ocean vistas will fill TV screens as usual, along with… Continue reading

Most Read