ANCHORAGE (AP) The climbing season has begun at Mount McKinley.
The National Park Service expects more than 1,100 people to take on America's highest mountain over the next two months. Most climbers will start their ascents from the tent city that springs up every spring on Kahiltna Glacier.
Base Camp emerged April 23 when the High Altitude Rescue Team from Fort Wainwright dropped off tents, fuel and other supplies from twin-rotor Chinook helicopters, said Roger Robinson, chief mountaineering ranger at the Park Service's Talkeetna Ranger Station.
On Saturday, a crew of volunteers and rangers from Denali National Park and Preserve set up the camp at 7,200 feet.
As of Sunday, 24 climbers were on the 20,320-foot mountain and a handful were attempting nearby Mount Foraker.
Ninety percent of McKinley climbers take the same route, the West Buttress.
The mountaineering rangers cluster at another camp at 14,000 feet. Twice the size of Base Camp, it has four tentlike shelters that are particularly strong and windproof.
This year rangers will be enforcing a new requirement clean mountain cans,'' or CMCs. A little larger than a one-gallon paint can, the CMCs are like personal latrines. Everyone who climbs above 14,000 feet on the West Buttress route must use one and haul their personal waste down the mountain when they leave.
The upper parts of Denali are ice but not glacier,'' and consequently there are no crevasses into which climbers can deposit their waste, Robinson told the Anchorage Daily News. Whatever gets left remains there a long, long time.''
The park may eventually require CMC use at Base Camp too, he said.
One of the most dangerous parts of the climb, the traverse of Denali Pass at 18,200 feet, will be safer this year. Rangers are installing snow anchors every 100 feet or so, which will give climbers a place to attach their ropes.
A climber descending Denali Pass slipped and fell to his death last year. It was the first climbing fatality on Denali since 1998.
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