Murphy Dome Diaries

A journalist observes life in the far north.

Wednesday Denali dispatch

Many climbers have summited Denali this week, and some are coming down with severe frost bite, including one woman who had eight toes frozen together, Alec said. The park service sent a barrage of rangers up the mountain to help her down.

The Snow Dogs are due to move to high camp at 17,200 feet today. About 70 climbers went up high yesterday—so many that several turned around and came back down to 14,000 camp due to bottlenecks on the fixed lines, Al said.

Offering more detail about Monday’s ascent to cache gear, Al said that Ramin had to do a self arrest, which means he had to stop himself from falling off of the mountain, after losing his footing and falling down a steep incline. I asked if the slip gave Ramin a scare, and Al said he seems fine.

Alec also named some suspects regarding the missing climbing equipment. He pointed a finger at a Korean expedition, adding that the Korean climbers have shown some poor judgement. On a warm day, they were seen wearing down summit suits while most other climbers wore simply polar fleece. The Koreans’ goggles were steaming up and they couldn’t see, causing all kinds of havoc, Al said.

I told Alec about the 50 mph winds in the forecast for Friday, and he said that the team is aware of the predictions. Even so, they planned to go higher today. He reassured me that they have no intention of summiting Denali in those conditions, particularly after seeing the frost bite cases coming down off of the summit this week.

The National Weather Service is still calling for strong winds, up to 75 mph, Friday and Saturday above 14,000 feet.

The park service is reporting 16 Denali ascents as of Tuesday with 460 climbers on the mountain.


2 comments on “Wednesday Denali dispatch

  1. Eric
    May 21, 2008

    How do you have eight toes frozen together? Did she have both feet in the same sock or something?

  2. Jill
    May 21, 2008

    Hi Amanda,

    Riveted by your postings, it occurs to me I could actually answer–I forget this has the potential to be a dialog. Thank you for sharing the story.

    Last year when Alec was on the mountain I was living in a state of anxiety the whole time. I really didn’t like having my brother in such a risky situation. Somehow this year is easier. He made it home and is up for the adventure again–I figure he’s better prepared.

    I’m so impressed that you plan to head up to base camp next year on Everest. Amazing.

    I love knowing you’re in my sister’s cabin on Dad’s land with Jade. I want to get up there to see you guys and meet my baby niece. She’s such a sweetheart.

    Your Bottle Washing Fairy has visited twice since she left you. Here she’s a Fern Fairy and makes sure our plants don’t keel over from my brown thumb. She has a special method that ensures water all over the dining room floor. Since it is tile, it all works out, and the plants love her.

    Hugs to you and Jade, and thank you for sharing your life so beautifully on this chronicle in words and pictures. I love your stories.


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This entry was posted on May 21, 2008 by .
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