Field Report, May 24, 2017

May 24, 2017 Posted by: Maureen Gualtieri



Mt. Foraker

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The Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station also maintains a 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

Click here for today's National Weather Service Denali Climbing Forecast.  Climbers have been bracing for what could be a heavier than average storm starting today. Significant snowfall is expected at most elevations, as well as strong winds.  Both FAA webcams (Kahiltna and Ruth Glaciers) are now working.

7,200 feet - Cloudy skies with snow falling at 8:00 am. Since last night when the storm started, they've recorded 5 cm of new snow. Winds were calm, with occasional gusts to 12 mph out of the southeast.  

In the last 12 hours:
Current temp  21 F  (-6 C)
Hi temp  25 F  (-4 C)
Low temp   19 F (-7 C)

14,200 feet - Clouds were 'thick as pea soup', with a light snow starting to fall.  Temperatures at 14K have warmed up a bit. So far this storm, 14K has seen less snow than lower elevations, recording only 1 cm so far. Winds were 3 mph out of the east, gusting to 22 mph from the east.  

In the last 12 hours:
Current temp  5 F (-15 C)
Hi temp   5 F  (-15 C)
Low temp   -2 F (-19 C)

Ranger Update

NPS Denali (14K) Patrol #1 (Shain + 4 VIPs) The patrol did another daytrip to high camp over the weekend, but are remaining at 14,200-foot camp through the current storm cycle.  

NPS Denali (14K) Patrol #2 (Corn + 5 VIPs) Camp is busy, with between 80 to 100 climbers. As mentioned, cold and windy weather for the upper mountain (17K+) have kept a few extra teams in camp. The cold temperatures have resulted in a few mild cases of frostbite, but all in all, teams are staying healthy.  

NPS Denali (14K) Patrol #3 (Weber + 5 VIPs) Patrol #3 had flown into Basecamp last Friday, and have been gradually moving uphill since.  Last night they reached the 11,000-foot camp, where they expect to wait out the snowy weather for a couple days.    

NPS Basecamp (7K) Patrol #2 (Coady + 2 VIPs) Melis and Dusty climbed the southwest ridge of Mount Frances over the weekend, while Steve held down camp operations.  Last night, the patrol swapped out a day early with Basecamp Patrol #3 during a good weather window.

NPS Basecamp (7K) Patrol #3 - Ranger Joe Reichert flew onto the glacier last night with VIPs Kakiko Ramos-Leon and Katherine Cooper, just in time for the snowstorm. 

This week, the Talkeetna Ranger Station staff is excited to welcome back Rangers Chris Erickson and Joseph McBrayer, who have just completed their law enforcement field training assignments at Grand Canyon National Park and Redwoods National Park, respectively. Both are happy to be back home and looking forward to getting back out into snowy mountain terrain.

Route Conditions


In general, snow and climbing conditions on Denali are in fine shape this season. Below 8,000 feet, the glaciers have had less snow than usual, but above 8,000 feet, glacier travel has been good. Windy Corner has been characterized as ‘easy’; there are great ski conditions in the 14K basin; and no blue ice on the fixed lines.  As mentioned in previous posts, a couple areas that require some extra attention include the lower glacier -- with at least two deep crevasses along the main trail.  The first crevasse is about a quarter mile (10 to 15 minutes) downglacier from Basecamp, and other is at the base of Heartbreak Hill. Neither have obvious sagging, however both are now flagged.  The second noteworthy area on the West Buttress is the bergschrund at the base of the fixed lines.  The schrund is more open than in past seasons, and the access point to the fixed lines might require some extra maneuvering over a bulge. Bottlenecking is anticipated on high traffic days.


(May 6 - 19) Harvard Route - Snow on route unconsolidated on rock at the beginning of trip, consolidating to neve by the end of the trip.  Upper ice fields above cave were bullet ice, having more ice screws would have been good (we brought 5).  Rappeling Harvard Route was a good option when snowing, only had spindrift. West Face Couloir had very big spindrift avalanches during storms.  Rappeled off summit ridge on big bollard, didn't find ice for V-thread.
                   ~ Michael Goodhoe and Jeff Longcor


(May 21) Mt. Frances SW Ridge didn't have as much snow as usual. Pitch under Tower 3 was tricky rock climbing instead of snow. East Ridge descent was deep facets. Halfway down descent we triggered a small slab avalanche.  Bacon and Eggs in great condition. Mini-Moonflower North Couloir crux is thin.
                   ~ Dane Christensen


Photos of the Day

Climbers checking in at the ranger station prior to a climbThat Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station has been chock-a-block with climbing teams both checking in and checking out this week.  NPS Photo/Debbie Reiswig  

A park ranger speaks to a table full of climbersMountaineering ranger Melis Coady orients a team prior to their climb (NPS Photo/Debbie Reiswig)

Last updated: May 24, 2017

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Denali Park , AK 99755


907 683-9532
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