Alaska Update: Fair Weather and Denali Summits

Last week, the number of climbers on Denali peaked at 595. This week, the mountain is slightly less busy, with 494 climbers. The reason for the drop-off? Tons of summit successes.


The weather on Denali has been consistently good, though the National Park Service (NPS) still reminds skiers and climbers that fair weather doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe.

“Areas that have been used by others may appear safe and crevasse-free but may change throughout the day and the season,” it points out.

A couple of windy days at the end of last week kept some teams stationary in the high camps. When this blew over, a wave of summits followed. The official summit total jumped from 28 on May 27 to 134 by June 1. This takes the season’s summit percentage to a whopping 61%.

File photo of Denali high camp. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


In fact, the weather has been so good that the NPS has had to move the Kahiltna Glacier landing strip up-glacier  because of the unrelenting sunshine and warm temperatures down below.

Mountain rescue

Happily, no new fatalities have occurred since our last update. However, there have been four recent evacuations, all from different teams. Medics treated two climbers for frostbite. One victim froze four fingers and an ear, another all 10 fingers. Rescuers flew out another climber with high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and the fourth suffered unspecified medical issues.

Denali in a day?

Ski mountaineer Caroline Gleich and her partner Rob Lea set an ambitious goal, to climb and ski Denali in a single day. Yesterday, they set off from the Kahiltna Glacier on their mammoth push.

A frosty Caroline Gleich on Denali. Photo: Caroline Gleich


After nine hours they had made it past Windy Corner, climbing roughly 2,700m. However, they “encountered higher than expected winds,” they wrote. Today, Gleich and Lea turned around just below 14 Camp (at around 4,200m).

“We needed perfect weather and we didn’t have it,” she said.

Mount Foraker

There is no major news from Mount Foraker. Of the season’s 15 registered climbers, 10 are on the mountain, and three have completed their climbs. There are no summits listed in the official statistics so far.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found out in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.