To prevent too many people climbing on beautiful Denali, there will be a limit on permits issued for Denali, starting next season, 2007:
"For the first time, the number of climbers allowed on the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley in Alaska will be capped at 1,500 a year beginning in 2007 — not too many more than the record-breaking 1,340 alpinists who attempted to scale the mountain last year.
McKinley, known locally as Denali, or "the High One," is required climbing for many of the world's most serious mountaineers, who attempt to reach the summit of the highest peak on each of the seven continents. About half the climbers who attempt McKinley come from other countries, according to the National Park Service.
It's too late to place the restriction on this year's climbing crowd, but come 2007 it will be in place, perhaps with a reservation system to ensure fairness.
The issue is one of safety and protecting the mountain, said Kris Fister, spokeswoman for Denali National Park and Preserve. She said all but a handful of climbers are on the mountain for a brief two-month period in May and June, and about 95 percent choose the more accessible West Buttress route to reach the top.
"Nothing is easy, but it is the least technically difficult of the routes on McKinley, which is why so many people opt to go on it," Fister said. "You've got a lot of people honing in on one area of the mountain for a short period of time."
The crunch of climbers can create bottlenecks at certain points on the mountain, Daryl Miller, the park's south district ranger, said Friday.
The West Buttress route consists mainly of a 14-mile corridor. Once climbers get up to about 14,000 feet, they have to wait for the right weather to go higher. A fixed line extends from 15,200 feet to 16,200 feet, and between 16,200 feet and 17,200 feet there is a narrow ridge that has to be negotiated.
There have been as many as 80 climbers on the fixed line, Miller said."
See The Seattle Times page for the full article.