A journalist observes life in the far north.
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.