Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the National Parks Service.
Denali National Park is announcing modifications to operations to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing. As of Friday, March 20, Denali National Park and Preserve has suspended issuance of climbing permits for any expeditions attempting an ascent of Denali or Mount Foraker for the 2020 mountaineering season. Furthermore, the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station will be closed to the public until further notice.
Due to weather and glacier conditions, the Denali and Mount Foraker climbing season typically begins in late April and ends in mid-July, however most teams begin their expeditions in May and early June. To date, no permits have been issued for the 2020 season. Considering the anticipated longevity of the international coronavirus response, social distancing protocols, and travel restrictions, park managers have determined the most appropriate course of action is to suspend all 2020 permitting.
The health and safety of the climbing community, including park visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. High alpine mountaineering typically requires transport in small aircraft, and shared tents, climbing equipment, and other camp infrastructure. In light of these and other factors, such as the difficulty maintaining recommended hygiene protocols in a mountain environment, park officials have determined it is not feasible to adequately protect the health of mountaineering rangers, other emergency responders, pilots, and the climbing public at this time.
All mountaineers currently registered to climb Denali or Mount Foraker will be entitled to a refund of their 2020 mountaineering special use fee and park entrance fee. Registered climbers do not need to request a refund, and they will be notified by email in the next several weeks when the refunds are processed.
The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.
For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.
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Go the distance…social distance, that is. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Next week, washing bison. Week after that. Washing while wearing a full body cast. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless your cleaning reflexes are quicker than a raccoon unwrapping a piece of candy behind your campsite. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. There’s less chance of spreading germs and scaring that flock of birds that just carried off your hiking buddy in a startled frenzy. They will be missed. Image: Fresh snow on the dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado. #FindYourPark #nationalparkservice #colorado #socialdistancing #dunes