The climbing season on Mount McKinley is winding down for the year, after more than 1,200 mountain climbers tackled North America's highest peak and about half of those reached the summit.
As of Friday, Pam Robinson reported that 1,197 mountaineers had been on and off the mountain, with about 630 making the summit. That's about an average success rate.
The climbing season was marred by the first fatality in two years. Three descending climbers were hit by falling rock near 13,200 feet in late June.
Clint West, a 47-year-old American living in the United Kingdom, died. Mark Morford, 47, of Portland, Ore., and Gerd Islei, 56, of Germany, were injured. Morford broke his right thigh and a wrist. Islei had broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a ruptured disc in his back. They were flown off the mountain to an Anchorage hospital and are expected to recover fully.
Several other rescues on McKinley during the climbing season ended much the same way. "It's just how the luck goes," Roger Robinson said.
For the first time, nearly all the climbers carried along a clean-mountain can to pack out their human waste. Comments from climbers were mostly favorable, he said. Many concluded it was more comfortable to sit on the cushioned rim of the can than to squat in the snow.
"It's working out well," he said.
However, he said the cans are proving difficult to clean. He's now looking for an improved model, hoping that what has been pioneered on McKinley can be expanded to the increasingly waste-fouled mountains of the Himalayas and South America.
"If climbers can do this at high camp on McKinley, they can do it anywhere," he said.