North America’s tallest mountain is busy this season with over 1,100 registered climbers. The summit success rate, according to the National Park Service, is at 71 per cent with 500 climbers having reached the summit as of June 15. Over 300 are still making their way to the top.
While the season started with bad conditions, things have improved over the past few weeks. A few rescues took place over the past week, but no fatalities were reported. Hot weather has meant that planes have had to fly in and out during the mornings when the glacier ice is still hard.
The Rescues: A team of two triggered their InReach requesting help to descend from Denali Pass to high camp after an exhausting 24-hour summit push. A team of guides camped at 5,100 metres helped them descend. Shortly after the rescue, a skier on a three-person team fell just below the summit and sustained injuries. His two partners stayed with him until he was able to descend. The injured individual fell once again from the traverse between Denali Pass and high camp on Sunday. The skier was rescued off the mountain thanks to a helicopter team. On June 13, the remaining skiers/climbers from the rescues were air evacuated to Kahiltna base camp in two flights.
Wildlife Refuge: In 2017, oil companies bought claims in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but thankfully pressure from local Indigenous and environmental groups have succeeded in their campaign to stop any drilling. The oil companies have abandoned their projects in the massive wilderness park. “This is positive news for the climate and the human rights of Indigenous people whose survival depends on a healthy, thriving calving ground for the Porcupine Caribou Herd,” wrote Wilderness Society’s Alaska state director, Karlin Itchoak.