Ah yes, the inevitables of life: taxes, death — and climbing fees. The news is out. Denali National Park intends to increase their climbing fee 150%, from $200 to $500 per climber. More, at Rainier they’re after a climbing fee increase to $50 from the current $30 charge. Apparently, this all without public comment.
Interesting issue. Check out the American Alpine Club letter here.
I’d imagine (and hope) much of the Denali fee increase would be for keeping their rescue facility and medical tent going at 14,000 feet on Denali West Buttress route. While perhaps too civilized for some and most certainly one of the reasons the West Butt is overrun with hackers, I have to say that in my case this spring (with my son and a relatively inexperienced group) I was glad that stuff was there. The $200 charge seemed reasonable, though it did hurt on top of other expenses such as travel insurance with a rescue rider.
But $500? I’d like to see the numbers, and fully understand that keeping all the climber service stuff going has got to add up to some hefty expenses for the Park Service. Yet how much of that fee is going to fund a top heavy bureaucracy? One has to wonder that when they know, for example, that most of the climbing rangers are volunteers.
The American Alpine Club and Access fund are requesting the numbers to back up the fee increases. That will be interesting and perhaps even humbling in that we’ll see just how much it costs Denali and Rainier parks to keep the climbing scene relatively safe and under control.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.