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55 Percent Of Those Who Put Mt. McKinley's Summit In Their Sights In 2010 Reached the Top


Of the 1,222 climbers who hoped to stand atop 20,320-foot-tall Mount McKinley in 2010, a little more than half -- 670 -- made it to the summit. NPS photos (bottom two by Kent Miller) and chart.

More than 1,200 climbers set out in 2010 to stand atop Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve, and more than half realized their goal. At least five, however, died in their endeavors.

According to the park's summary of the 2010 climbing season, nearly all of the 1,222 climbers who hoped to summit headed up the West Buttress Route, and 630 made it to the top. Twenty-four climbers headed up Cassin Ridge, and 11 reached the summit, while 23 attacked the mountain along the West Rib, with 11 also making it to the top.

Three climbers went via Muldrow Glacier and two via Pioneer Ridge and none of the five made it to the top. The 12 climbers who assailed the mountain via the West Buttress Traverse also were unsuccessful.

On average, climbers spent 17.5 days on the summit, with those who made it to the top spending an extra day on the mountain, according to park records. June 20 was a particularly busy day on the top of the 20,320-foot mountain, with 54 climbers managing to reach the summit. June 8 saw 40 summit, while 38 made it on the Fourth of July.

June far and away saw the most summits, with 370, while there were 226 in May and just 74 in July.

While 150 women set out for the summit, the park's summary doesn't say how many reached the top.

And if you're wondering whether you're too old for this adventure, the average age of climbers was 38.

Park officials listed the following climbing fatalities from the 2010 season:

Fatal Climbing Fall: A French mountaineer fell to his death near the top of Motorcycle Hill on the West Buttress route on May 16. The climber and his partner were unroped as they approached the feature known as ‗Lunch Rocks‘ near 12,000 feet when he lost control of his sled. In an attempt to stop it from sliding over the ridge, the climber jumped on the sled but was unable to self-arrest and ultimately fell over 1,000 feet to a steep, crevassed section of the Peters Glacier. The park‘s high altitude helicopter, which was in the vicinity on a re-supply flight when the radio distress call came in, flew to the site within minutes and determined the climber had fallen into a deep crevasse. An NPS ranger was soon short-hauled into the crevasse, and although he could not safely reach the climber, it was readily determined that the climber had not survived the long fall

Climbing Fall: On May 26, a solo climber sustained an unroped fall of approximately 1,000 feet down the West Rib route of Mt. McKinley. The next day, NPS rangers flew to the scene in the high altitude helicopter and picked up the climber using a toe-in landing. He was assessed at basecamp by a NPS volunteer physician with only minor injuries, flown to Talkeetna, and released from NPS care.

Fatal Avalanche Accident: Two climbers were found dead at the base of a steep snow and ice gully in the Ruth Gorge, most likely swept and killed by a wet loose avalanche as they were descending their route. After being alerted to the incident by another climber in the area, NPS staff flew to the scene via helicopter and confirmed their deaths. Their bodies were recovered the following morning.

Fatal Climbing Fall: A Belgian climber died from a fall on the Cassin Ridge route of Mt. McKinley on June 7. His surviving partner was assisted off the route by another expedition and was rescued three days later by the NPS contract helicopter.

Thirty-five climbers required medical attention of some form from medical personnel (both National Park Service and volunteers) during the climbing season. "Acute Mountain Sickness and non-cardiac medical problems (includes gastrointestinal distress, yeast infections, hemorrhoids, etc.) together accounted for over one-half of the medical responses," the Park Service noted.

For more insights into the 2010 climbing season on Mount McKinley, the park's report is attached.

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