Despite only having been back a few days, many people have asked me about how I felt on my expedition to Denali as it was so close to the end of my Everest expedition, which takes its toll on you physically and mentally.
In fact, my doctor, Jack Kreindler, who’s specialised in high altitude medicine, even raised his concerns about doing Everest and Denali, two of the most difficult Seven Summits expeditions, essentially back-to-back.
In light of this, I feel awkward when people ask me the question of how was it and my honest response is “easy”. Denali is by no means an easy mountain as anyone who’s either tried or climbed it will tell you.
I don’t want to come across arrogant in saying that I found Denali easy but I think that I ended up benefitting significantly from the physical and mental acclimatization I got during my time on Everest and therefore the carrying and pulling a combined weight of 70 kg for almost three weeks and mostly uphill felt a lot easier than I expected.
Just to set the record straight, the National Park Service (NPS) publishes daily updates on the success rate on Denali. Based on data up to today, 1,192 people have purchased a permit to climb the mountain and 1,030 of those people have exited the national park. Only 439 of those reached the summit, which puts the success rate at just 42% – actually lower than that of Mount Everest this season.
There are still another 164 people on the mountain, so the numbers are likely to change slightly, but expect no major changes.
Further, last year, the total number of permits sold was 1,232 and 687 people, or 56% of the total, reached the summit, so this year has been significantly more challenging than previous ones.