Earlier this week, the National Park Service announced that it was raising the price of climbing permits for Denali, the tallest peak in North America. The fee increase, we’re told, is to help offset the rising costs of rescuing climbers on the mountain.
Beginning in the 2012 season, the cost of a standard permit to climb the 6196 meter (20,327 ft) mountain will increase from $200 to $350. Permits issued for climbers 24 years old and younger will cost $250. Fees were originally instituted on the mountain back in 1995 to help cover the costs of maintaining a Search and Rescue.
Denali is a challenging, difficult mountain to climb, and since it is one of the Seven Summits, it is also a popular one. As a result, it sees its fair share of traffic each year, and along with that traffic comes some concerns with accidents and injuries. To help protect the climbers, the Park Service maintains three camps at various altitudes, plus a high altitude helicopter used for rescues. The NPS also funds an educational program designed to help prevent situations that would require climbers to need a SAR team.
Personally, I think a $350 permit is still a bargain on this type of climb and I don’t see this impacting the number of people on the mountain too an great extent. If it helps fund operations that make the mountain safer, than I think it is definitely a justifiable rate increase and one that most mountaineers would applaud as well.
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