Every year during the short summer climbing season, the Denali National Park service in Alaska relies on volunteers to help their rangers patrol the upper slopes of Denali – North America’s highest peak.

Denali, at 6,190 m above sea level, is a significant mountaineering objective and while it’s not a technical climb, the dangers of hidden crevasses, extreme cold, changeable weather and altitude illness can take their toll on those who approach the peak ill prepared. ioCrew member Andrew Peacock has just completed a stint as a voluntary medical ranger on the first patrol of the season, and it was a physically and mentally challenging few weeks.

Climbers on the lower Kahiltna glacier

“It felt like an ‘arctic work camp’ as we towed sleds up the lower glacier on skis and then spent a number of days establishing the park service infrastructure at 14k camp (4300m)” he explained. “Once established there we were on standby to respond to any accidents or significant illnesses faced by the climbers as they began to arrive in increasing numbers. It was a low winter snow year in the Alaska Range, and of particular concern were the crevasses along the route from Base Camp.”

Andrea

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Luckily there were no major incidents for him to respond to but soon after he left the mountain, the next patrol were involved in an incredible rescue. You can read all about that here: http://bit.ly/2rMGiLz.

“Preparation is the key to taking on a role like this and so having the right gear was paramount” he said. “ioMerino layering was one of the foundations for my clothing kit to help me deal with maximum temperatures of -15C with lows in the range of -25 to -30C in the twilight of the arctic night. Of course it wasn’t all work and no play, there was time to do some laps on skis up the hill above camp and put in some turns on the flanks of this impressive mountain.”

Andrew at 14k camp

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