At this point it should come as no surprise that major mountaineering, exploration, and adventure destinations are closing down for the foreseeable future. The coronavirus has cancelled athletic events, travel plans, and entire climbing seasons across the globe as countries scramble to try to contain its spread. Now, we have received word that another iconic mountain will be closed for business this year as the U.S. National Park Service has announced that no permits will be issued for Denali this spring season as well.
Word on the closure came late last week, with the Park Service taking its guidance from the White House and the Center for Disease Control. Citing the safety and health of the climbing community, along with park visitors and employees, the NPS made the decision to close the mountain, as well as Mount Foraker. Typically, the Denali climbing season runs from late-April through mid-July, with the bulk of the expeditions taking place in May and June. So far, no permits have been issued for the season ahead, but in compliance with global efforts to halt the spread of the virus, no climbers will be allowed on the mountain during that timeframe.
The NPS also indicated that anyone who was registered to climb Denali this spring, and had payed their fees, is eligible for either a full refund or can postpone their expedition to a later date. Considering the Alaskan peak—formerly known as Mt. McKinley—is the tallest mountain in North America at 20,310 feet (6190 meters) in height, it does manage to attach a large number of climbers each year. Having a crowded Base Camp could be conducive for spreading the virus however, so the mountain’s closure probably shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise.
At this point, it is safe to say that the vast majority of the iconic adventure activities and events that we’ve come to follow over the years will probably be closed down for at least the next two to three months, and quite possibly much longer. At this point, many of those activities are seen as highly trivial and not at al important as we struggle with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Still, for those of us who love a healthy dose of adventure, these next few months are going to be a tough void to fill.
Stay healthy and safe!
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