FAIRBANKS (AP) The National Weather Service expected a rare summer storm to pummel the Alaska Range's highest peaks with winds up to 50 to 80 mph Monday.
The news led rangers at Denali National Park to warn Mount McKinley climbers who could be threatened.
An area called Denali Pass or South Pass that climbers use to summit the mountain could see gusts of up to 120 mph.
''There's no way that anybody can be safely there (on Denali Pass) in winds that strong,'' said Ted Fathauer, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.
He called the storm the mountain's most severe climbing-season weather in more than a decade.
As of Sunday, there were 38 climbers reported on Mount McKinley. More than half are part of a guided group or groups and have been in touch with the Talkeetna ranger station via satellite phone.
''Most people are prepared for long durations of bad weather. They don't like hanging out in bad weather, but it's just all part of the nature of climbing here,'' said Roger Robinson, lead climbing ranger at the station.
Meteorologists expected the heavy winds to create a whiteout through Wednesday at altitudes above 15,000 feet. The guided climbers were at an upper base camp at 14,000 feet Sunday and planned to stay put, Robinson said. They were asked to tell other climbers of the expected weather change.
A few additional climbers have contacted the National Weather Service with satellite phones and were warned of the storm.
The storm would be a stark contrast to the recent clear weather around McKinley and Fathauer said he hopes those on the mountain have gotten the news and made it to safe locations.
''With luck everybody will get off alive,'' he said. ''Cross your fingers.''
The wind could make certain areas of the route to Mount McKinley's summit at 20,320 feet is the tallest in North America impassable. Mount Foraker, at 17,400 feet, is the only other mountain in the Alaska Range with a peak above 15,000 feet.
Most climbers come prepared for nasty weather on McKinley and if the wind's bad enough, will hunker down and wait for the conditions to improve, rangers said.
The heavy winds are a high-altitude phenomenon.
''This system is not going to create strong winds at the surface, where people live and do things,'' said Bob Fischer, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Fairbanks.
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