Made it to Talkeetna,a small tourist town serving as the gateway to Denali National Park. I visited the National Park Service headquarters to see how the season has gone thus far - not good news.
As of today, June 11, there have been 1176 climbers registered to attempt all routes on Denali. Of the 547 who have finished their attempts only 193 have reached the summit. That is a 33% success rate. Normally about half summit each year.
The 2007 season has extremely high winds pinning down many teams at the Basin Camp at 14,000'. There have also been 41 people fall into crevasses thus far and of course, 5 deaths in the area. So once again Denali proves it reputation as one of the world's toughest mountains.
I meet up with team tomorrow morning. I rode up from Ancorage with Mike, the tattoo studio owner from New York. A very nice guy and, as you would expect, covered in colorful tattoos! I expect to learn about the business after spending the next three weeks with him.
We will have a briefing with Park Rangers tomorrow to understand the various rules. As a US National Park, Denali is tightly controlled for pollution, unsafe behavoir and overall saftey. We also pay a $210 permit fee each which inlcudes helicopter resuce in dire cases.
It is raining today with temps in the 50's. On the Hill, highs range from 5 to 35 and lows from -10 to +10. The winds have finally calmed down a bit allowing a slew of summits the past few days. Let's hope it continues when we go for the top near the end of June.
After a 40 minute bush plane ride, we will be dropped off at 7200' on the Kahiltna glacier to start the climb.
Next dispatch from the glacier!