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Author Topic: Denali, the forbidden mountain. Why? An Essay.  (Read 11192 times)


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Denali, the forbidden mountain. Why? An Essay.
« on: May 14 2007, 02:53 »

The following is written by Alex and Luda, but I can agree with it and have discussed this before. I welcome your thoughts on this issue.


For Ludmila Korobeshko - Denali is closed

Dear Mountaineering Society !!!!

I’d like to draw your attention to the question of climbing Mt McKinley and abnormal situation with commercial groups. Every year Denali rangers arrest and impose fines on respected people: representatives of respected companies, Alpine clubs. Very often their charges have no real ground. What is in fact going on: 6 companies captured the right to control Denali climbs. Only 6 :

Alaska Mountaineering School
Alpine Ascents International
American Alpine Institute
Mountain Trip International, LLC
Rainier Mountaineering

Even the majority of American companies (successfully working all over the world – Himalaya, Karakorum, Antarctica) have no right to work with their clients on McKinley. So people are deprived of the right to choose their favorite guide, favorite company. Next: these 6 companies are unable to provide their services for all those wishing to climb Denali. Rangers give permits for about 1600 people a year, but these 6 companies can really work with no more than 600.

For the remaining 1000 people rangers joyfully suggest going “in a sport style”!!!! Without guides!!! Though the majority of these people need if not guides, than at least experienced leaders.

1000 mountaineers, who have never been to this severe and very specific region, are forced to go alone without experienced friends. Because as soon as you come to Denali for the second time and bring 1-2 friends with you, you get immediately under suspicion and penalty up to deportation from the USA. Doesn’t it look like a nightmare or “Witch hunting”?

The only thing this unreasonable law comes to is the fact that travel agencies send new guides and leaders with their clients, who don’t know the region and important details of the climb.

Rangers catch them and impose fines. There doesn’t exist any similar strange rule in any other part of the world. On any mountain they welcome experienced outfitters and experienced and famous guides, who bring clients every year, who are very familiar with the peculiarities of the region and who can guarantee safe climbs.

I’d like to give our 7 Summits Club as and example. Right now we have 209 members in our club. 209 people fascinated by the idea of 7 Summits.

Every year our members climb Denali.
These are Russian mountaineers, who set the aim to climb all 7 Summits. It’s a common knowledge, that Russians started traveling abroad only 15 years ago, when Communists opened the boarders. The majority of Russians didn’t speak English at all, so they lack the knowledge, which is almost essential for the USA. In attempt to help these climbers, our club used to send a leader-interpreter with them. For two years Ludmila Korobeshko acted in this capacity. She has special University degree – the teacher of English. Once rangers even asked her to help them interview 2 Russian mountaineers, who didn’t understand a word in English.

Ludmila has never been to the summit of Denali !!! She is not a professional guide !!! She hasn’t any kind of guide certificate. She has only University degree in English. And what was the result of her two trips? Rangers fined Ludmila for 300 dollars suspecting her to work as an illegal guide !!!

After this case we stopped sending our representative with our 7 Summits Club members. Instead we agreed with the rangers that they permit us organize only logistics for our club members. So we worked in this way last season, though the absence of the leader in groups has a negative impact on the safety of the climb.

For safety reasons the majority members of our club want to climb 7 Summits with Russian leaders or guides. That’s why they turn to other Russian travel agencies or to private guides who are not as much well-known as “7 Summits Club” who agree to take all the risks for offering Denali climb with Russian guides.

This year we only gave a consultation for 10 of our club members and they started the procedure of asking for the Denali permit themselves. No one from them has been to Denali before. But the rangers refused to give them the permit suspecting that this is a commercial group…

How long is this outrageous situation going to last!
Why people wishing to climb 7 Summits and not breaking the USA laws are suspected not in espionage, not in terrorist actions against the USA government, but in the fact that they want to spend their own time and money for reaching the noble aim – reaching the highest point of North America.

Furthermore, why the Rangers need this monopoly:
Let’s compare prices for the services:
6 happy companies offer prices of about $5000 per person for the guided ascent. This price includes services started from the flight to Kahiltna glacier only.

When we sent the group with the leader-interpreter, the price of the trip for the club member didn’t exceed $2500 per person starting from lodgings in Anchorage, then transfer to Talkeetna, lodgings in Talkeetna and then the flight to Kahiltna glacier. That price was also inclusive of the leader’s airfare from Moscow, lodgings and board.

It’s obvious that it was not commerce, and a leader went not as a ‘professional guide’, not for salary, but for the love of the mountains and Alaska region. Why is it that rangers forbid even this kind of activity?

Why they follow up and impose penalties on people who come to Denali for the second time?

Why 3 people, who come for the first time and hence have no experience, have the right to climb?

And why 3 people and 1 more who has already been to the mountain and can help them safely climb McKinley, have no such right?

It’s only 1 example. But they are numerous. And there are many companies who have negative experience dealing with Denali rangers. Not any other of 7 Summits can boast such a strange and illogical rule. On such a famous and internationally important mountain it is necessary either to forbid commercial activity altogether or allow it to companies satisfying certain (not local!!) but international standards.

We respect the laws of USA and those of Alaska State. But we believe that such a rule is profitable only for a very small number of people and is harmful for a big number of climbers all over the World. All those who are moved by this article, who suffered from Denali Rangers and from this particular rule, please contact 7 Summits Club!

If we join our forces, we can change the current situation!

Alex Abramov
Director of "7 summits club"
"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche


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Re: Denali, the forbidden mountain. Why? An Essay.
« Reply #1 on: May 14 2007, 12:24 »

I cant do anything else then to agree with it.

Pff claiming a mountain, what a nonsense. its a mountain, not an entertainment park, If the usa "must" make money out of it, let em do it via climbing permits instead of this nonsense where you "must" sponsor 1 of those 6 companies if you want to avoid any trouble... :/
"Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."  -Mahatma Gandhi


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Re: Denali, the forbidden mountain. Why? An Essay.
« Reply #2 on: Oct 7 2009, 20:55 »

A guide, what's that?  Whatever happened to freedom of the hills? I did McKinley without a guide, didn't summit due to a storm, and avalanche advisory, but I'll have my revenge on her.  Anyone who wants to climb a BIG mountain like McKinley should have enough experience, equipment, and be ready for her.  It is more rewarding when you can say that you have done it on your own from learned experience.

In my own opinion, commercial expeditions crowd up the mountain and pose a greater hazard for other passionate climbers who are trying to do it on their own, not to mention the mess that these commercial expeditions have left behind.  Whatever happened to the "leave no trace" rule?  The bigger crowding up also leads to some stolen equipment, like a gas burner or gas tanks, for example, not like it's a major looting, but just small stuff, especially when it's "borrowed" and never returned, it's just sooo annoying...  I have nothing against commercial expeditions as long as it's not turned into a circus and crowd up the base camps. This is also why I climb during the low seasons...
« Last Edit: Oct 7 2009, 21:10 by Mike1 »
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