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Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
DENALI PARK, Alaska:The 103 guests and employees from the Denali Backcountry Lodge have been successfully evacuated from Kantishna, where they had been stranded all day by high water and washed out sections of the Denali Park Road. They were ferried by the park's two contract helicopters to buses staged at the Wonder Lake Ranger Station, or by fixed-wing aircraft to airstrips near or at the east end of the park. National Park Service employees in that area were also evacuated. Guests at other lodges did not have to evacuate today, and they will be able to leave via the road tomorrow as temporary repairs have been made to the causeway section of road at the north end of Wonder Lake.
Additionally, four mountaineers who had traversed Mt. McKinley were airlifted from the south side of the McKinley River to the Eielson Visitor Center. They had been trying for days to cross the river, but had been unsuccessful due to the high water, and were out of food. The river is notoriously difficult to cross, especially after heavy rain. A Denali Backcountry Lodge employee who had been stranded on what became an island in the housing area was able to get across the swollen Moose Creek with assistance from other employees and a rope.
Road crews will coordinate plans for repairing the damaged sections of the park road at Eureka and Friday Creeks with the Alaska Department of Transportation, who have the jurisdictional responsibility for that portion of the road. Road repairs may take several days.
Park concessioner-operated buses will operate on their regular schedule as far as Wonder Lake beginning tomorrow.