Soldiers Tackle North America’s Tallest Peak
Headquarters, U.S. Army Alaska
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, May 23, 2014 Soldiers, primarily from U.S. Army Alaska’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, will test their cold weather, high altitude and mountaineering skills against 20,320-foot-high Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America.
U.S. soldiers will follow the illustrated path in challenging the formidable heights of 20,320-foot-high Mount McKinley in Alaska. U.S. Army Alaska graphic
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The team plans to reach the summit by June 11.
The first of two U.S. Army Alaska climbing teams flew from Talkeetna, Alaska, on May 21 and landed at the National Park Service base camp on Kahiltna Glacier, more than 7,000 feet high in the Alaska Range.
This is unlike any other hike in the Denali National Park. From the base to the peak Mount McKinley rises 18,400 feet and is considered the tallest of any mountain when measured from top to bottom. The climbers will take the West Buttress Route, and expect the climb to take from 18 to 23 days, including weather days and stops for acclimatization to the altitude as they ascend more than 13,000 vertical feet from their start point.
Soldiers in the second team, primarily from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, will follow suit beginning May 28.
Common hazards for the expeditions could include extreme cold, altitude illness, crevasses, avalanches, ice and rock fall and extreme weather. A climber from Tacoma, Washington, was killed earlier this month when she fell nearly 1,000 feet during a storm after successfully reaching the peak during an attempt to traverse the summit from north to south.
Climbing teams from U.S. Army Alaska have made more than 16 expeditions on the West Buttress Route since 1980. This season’s teams will post daily mission updates available on both the U.S. Army Alaska webpage and the U.S. Army Alaska Face book page.
U.S. Army Alaska is the Army’s foremost cold weather and mountainous fighting force and is capable of a variety of mission types including search and rescue, defense support to civil authorities, humanitarian aid/disaster response and security operations across a wide range of climate and geographic zones, including high-altitude, extreme cold weather.