Field Report, May 24, 2023

May 24, 2023 Posted by: Maureen Gualtieri

TODAY'S STATS - 5/24/23


Mt. Foraker

Registered Climbers



Climbers Currently On Mountain



Completed Climbs



Number of Summits



Summit Percentage



The Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station also maintains an almost daily automated statistics phone line, so if this blog is lagging behind and you need up-to-date registration numbers, call (907) 733-9127.


Mountain Weather

7K --From Gabby at 7 AM  "Top o the morning. 28f, calm, mostly, obsc, snowing❄️".   Though at 9:00 AM -- "still a little misty & lightly snowing, but can see main kahiltna up to 14k on foraker & up the se fork"   Then, 11 AM:  "Shutting down again at camp. southern clouds are *slowly* pushing over."

11K  Per Ranger Mik Dalps at 7 AM  "Good morning, there is a patch of blue above us, but looks socked in below and thick above as well. Packing to head up."

14K  Scattered clouds at various elevations, though not flyable. Winds relatively calm.

Per NPS Geologist Mike Loso, as of Monday "the year-round on-glacier weather stations located at 7000 and 14,000' on Denali's Kahiltna Glacier are back up, running, and successfully sending telemetered data. (See photos below!)  Big thanks to Louis Sass at USGS, DENA rangers Galen Dossin, Tucker Chenoweth, and Chrissie Oken, and lots of volunteers for helping to get these newly redesigned stations installed so early in the climbing season. They will continue our now 5-year long record of on-glacier weather at two of the highest year-round climate monitoring stations in Alaska."

Weather station telemetry data from 7K and 14K are transmitted hourly to the MesoWest website, including temperatures, wind speed, wind direction, snowfall, and solar radiation. compiles a Denali Weather page, complete with links to the MesoWest data, the NWS Denali Climbing Forecasts, as well as links to FAA webcams. 

The National Weather Service publishes their mountain-specific forecast here: Denali Climbing Forecast

The FAA webcam on the Kahiltna Glacier has yet to be installed for the 2023 season, but we'll let you now when its up and operational.

Conditions Reports

There are currently 48 permitted climbers and skiers in the park's glaciated backcountry, distributed as follows:

4 on the Peters Glacier
17 in the Upper Kahiltna
6 in the Upper Ruth
3 on Mount Hunter
14 in Little Switzerland
4 in the Kichatna Preserve

Mount Hunter (reported May 14)  "Climbed Bacon & Eggs to bottom of upper steep pitches, baled due to spindrift. Lower route climbing well, good ice. Top pitches looked good as well."

Mount Huntington (May 10 to 18) "Harvard Route, two attempts. Waist/chest deep sugar snow from camp to above access couloir bergschrund. Needs some solar cycling to settle snow.  ~20” fell between May 12 – 16 at camp. High point 2nd spiral pitch."

Mount Huntington (May 22)  "Colton-Leach: Schrund crossing very airy. Minimally supportive snow above and below. Bailed below the cornice due to constant spindrift and large chunks of ice falling."

Moose’s Tooth (May 20)  "Route was deteriorated, snice on route and 3.5 feet of new snow across 2 to 3 days."

Moose’s Tooth (May 21) "Root Canal, fresh powder and good turns. Not good climbing conditions.  ~K.H."

747 Pass  (May 23) "Large avalanche crown 5/18 on 2nd hump approx. ~8 feet."

Peak 11,300 (May 14) "Climbed SW Ridge via right variation access at the toe of route. Reasonably supportive snow with some deep facet exceptions above 1st col and a few intermingled spots along route.  Descent was great crampon supported windboard. Tat anchors are in good condition."

Be sure to review the past few Field Reports for any previous observations.

Search and Rescue Activity

This season is shaping up to be a lively and diverse one on the rescue front.  Since the last Denali Dispatch:

> Once a long stretch of stormy weather moved through last week, three lower mountain evaculations took place between May 17 and 18, including a hypothermic climber, a snowblind climber, and a climber with a dislocated shoulder/arm injury following a crevasse fall.  

> Read about two rescues from last weekend -- one on the Upper Peters Glacier and one on Peak 11,300 -- in the park news releases dated May 20 (2 releases) and May 22 (1).  

> And as this posting, a member of a two-person team that rapidly ascended the mountain in 6 days, began showing signs and symptoms of HACE on the Football Field (19K) last night.  With no other help in the vicinity, the team managed to make it down to 17K, where they have been medicated and sheltered by mountain guides at high camp. Rangers just ascended the ridge and will continue care. Weather conditions are not flyable. 

Ranger Reports 

14K Patrol #2 (Oken) The team has kept busy coordinating and relaying weather obs during the aforementioned rescue operations the past week, as well as ascending the 16K ridge as the ground contingent during the Peters Glacier rescue.  In their spare time, they've managed multiple incoming 14K re-supply flights and installed new weather station equipment at 14K on Monday.  The women finish up their patrol tomorrow, weather permitting; they will begin their descent once Patrol #4 reaches camp later today.

14K Patrol #3 (Dossin)  Galen's team has had a rather strenuous patrol thus far.  After doubling back from 11K to 9K to assist a hypothermic climber last week, followed by a crevasse rescue and subsequent evac at Motorcycle Hill/11K, Galen and his VIPs were also instrumental in the Peters Glacier ground rescue team on the 16K ridge.  Today, they ascended to high camp to render aid to a climbing team with HACE.

14K Patrol #4 (McBrayer, Dalpes, Ramey)  Last week, Patrol #4 led off with back-to-back patient transports before even leaving Basecamp.  Their ascent up the lower mountain has sounded thankfully calm, and the team should reach 14K later today if weather permits.

7K Patrol #4 (Mock) Volunteer-in-Parks Extraordinaire Steve Mock (also current Board President of Denali Rescue Volunteers) is joined by returning Denali VIP/Paramedic Jon Politis from Grand Teton NP at Basecamp.  Similar to last year, Steve's volunteer service began weeks ago, helping out with the climber briefing schedule in Talkeetna and giving Denali expedition talks at the McKinley Princess Lodge.  The Dynamic Duo flew into Basecamp yesterday, May 23. 

Two mountaineers stand outside the open door of a helicopter on a tree-lined airstrip
VIP Jon Politis and VIP Steve Mock before heading into the Kahiltna Basecamp for an 11-day patrol. (NPS Photo / Alan Davis)


Photos of the Day

It takes a team of volunteers to raise the long weather station pole Raising the weather station equipment at 14,200-foot camp (NPS Photo / Emily Junck)

The sun shines over a tall aluminum pole with support lines holding it place.And its UP!  (NPS Photo / Emily Junck)

Last updated: May 24, 2023

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