Cap initiated for McKinley climbers

Posted: Monday, November 24, 2008

ANCHORAGE - The National Park Service has initiated its limit of climbers on Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.

The number of climbers allowed each year on 20,320-foot mountain is capped at 1,500. For now, the cap is more symbolic than real. That's because mountain managers are not expecting to reach the cap anytime soon.

The most climbers who have tried was in 2005, when 1,340 attempted to reach the summit. Since then, the number of climbers on the mountain has fallen.

The five-year average is around 1,250.

Denali National Park Ranger Daryl Miller in Talkeetna said approximately 1,275 people registered to climb this year, about 1,220 the year before.

The park has done away with a requirement for registration at least 60 days before climbing McKinley. That makes the mountain more accessible to climbers, particularly Alaskans, who decide on last minute ascents.

Miller said he expects the number of climbers to go up over time, in part because the interest in climbing the highest peaks on all seven continents appears to be at an all-time high, led by well-heeled climbers from Europe and Asia.

The increase in their number appears to have had an affect on McKinley.

"The foreign contingent (of climbers) was almost half this year," Miller said. "I can't remember when it has been that many."



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