February 22, 2006

Alaska’s Mount McKinley climbers capped at 1,500

By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska's Mount McKinley,
North America's tallest mountain, will be capped at 1,500
climbers a year under a plan announced by the National Park
Service on Wednesday.

The new management plan for the Denali National Park and
Preserve imposed the first-ever limit on the number of climbers
for a mountain in Alaska to ease overcrowding after a record
1,340 people climbed the 20,320-foot (6,194-meter) peak in

Mount McKinley, one of the few U.S. mountains with limits,
has seen a steady increase in the number of climbers over the
last decade, reaching a record 1,340 people in 2005. By
comparison, 659 people climbed the mountain in 1980 and 998
climbed in 1990, according to Park Service records.

"We're closer to 1,500 than some people think. I don't know
if it'll be this year or three or four years (from now)," said
Daryl Miller, south district ranger for Denali National Park
and Preserve.

About 95 percent of McKinley climbers use the mountain's
easiest route, the West Buttress, during a compressed climbing
season between late spring and mid-summer, leading to problems
of overcrowding and creating bottlenecks at certain points,
Miller said.