This May 10, 2017 file photo shows Denali, North America’s tallest peak, from an airplane flying over the Alaska Range near Talkeetna, Alaska. Officials on Monday, April 5, 2021, said five people had to ski to a shelter after they landed on Ruth Glacier at the base of Denali on April 2, 2021, and a heavy snowstorm stranded them for at least three days. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

This May 10, 2017 file photo shows Denali, North America’s tallest peak, from an airplane flying over the Alaska Range near Talkeetna, Alaska. Officials on Monday, April 5, 2021, said five people had to ski to a shelter after they landed on Ruth Glacier at the base of Denali on April 2, 2021, and a heavy snowstorm stranded them for at least three days. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Snowstorm strands 5 on North America’s tallest peak

The five landed Friday in three separate small airplanes on Ruth Glacier on Denali.

  • Tuesday, April 6, 2021 12:39am
  • News

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — Five people had to ski through a heavy Alaska snowstorm to a mountain chalet after abandoning their airplanes on a glacier on North America’s tallest peak, where they were stranded for the weekend, officials said Monday.

The five landed Friday in three separate small airplanes — a Cessna 180 and two Piper PA18s — on Ruth Glacier on Denali, said Maureen Gualtieri, a spokesperson for Denali National Park and Preserve. A fast-moving storm prevented them from flying off the glacier, and they spent Friday night in their airplanes at about 4,500 feet. They woke up Saturday and realized they didn’t have enough resources to ride out the storm.

“That’s when they called for help,” Gualtieri said.

Two guides who work at the Sheldon Chalet about 3 1/2 miles away were temporarily hired by the National Park Service to serve as a search and rescue team, guiding those who were stranded back to the chalet.

“We contacted them there, and they had the requisite gear, and so brought them skis and harnesses and roped up with them and guided them back,” Gualtieri said.

The weather cleared Monday, and she expected the five to be flown off the 20,310-foot mountain, which is about 265 miles north of Anchorage.

But their aircraft will remain on Denali for now because the storm dumped up to 3 feet of snow on the glacier, she said. And when they do return for the planes, there will be some hard work to do to get them off the mountain.

“It’ll probably be a larger effort than just getting back in the aircraft and flying out,” she said. They will “maybe go in with some more people and snowshoes and make for a runway out there in the glacier.”

And how does someone make a runway in 3 feet of new snow? People would likely have to stomp out a runway with their snowshoes, she said.

None of the five people was injured, and the airplanes were not damaged when they left them Saturday.

More in News

The sign in front of the Homer Electric Association building in Kenai, Alaska as seen on April 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Homer Electric to issue over $2M in capital credits

Around 16,000 people who were HEA members in 1989 and 1990 will receive a credit on their May energy bill statement.

Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, holds a press in front of the doors to the Senate chambers on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Reinbold called the conference to respond to a letter from Gov. Mike Dunleavy saying he would no longer participate with her as chair of the Senate Judicairy Committee. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
State Senate removes Lora Reinbold as judiciary committee chair

The committee change was approved 17-1, with Reinbold the lone no.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion
Kelly Tshibaka addresses members of the community at Nikiski Hardware & Supply on April 9 in Nikiski.
Tshibaka reports financial support from peninsula residents

Tshibaka has raised nearly $215,000 for her campaign since the beginning of this year in total receipts.

The RavnAir kiosk stands empty at the Kenai Airport on Thursday, April 2, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Council to mull potential Kenai air carrier

Rambler Air would join Grant Aviation and Ravn Alaska in offering scheduled service between Kenai and Anchorage.

In this undated photo provided by the Tanana Chiefs Conference, shows PJ Simon, chief and chairman of the conference, from Fairbanks, Alaska, displaying a COVID-19 vaccination sticker. Alaska has been one of the leading states in the percentage of its population to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But some of Alaska’s highest vaccination rates have been in some of its most remote, hardest-to-access communities, where the toll of past flu or tuberculosis outbreaks hasn’t been forgotten. (Rachel Saylor/Tanana Chiefs Conference via AP)
Alaska tribal health groups distribute vaccine far and wide

“We live for our children. We want to bring that sense of normalcy back in our lives.”

In this June 20, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington as a storm rolls in. The Supreme Court seems inclined to say that hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus relief money tied up by a court case should benefit Alaska Natives, rather than be spread more broadly among Native American tribes.The justices were hearing arguments April 19, 2021, in a case involving the massive pandemic relief package passed last year and signed into law by then-President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Court seems ready to send virus funds to Alaska Natives

The federal government set aside more than $530 million for the so-called ANCs.

A vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Central Emergency Services Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 18 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska hits 40% fully vaccinated

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 35.3% of Alaskans 16 and up are fully vaccinated.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Wildlife refuge to host spring cleanup

On April 30 and May 1, volunteers will help collect any litter or debris at the refuge that’s been covered by snow all winter.

Logo for Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles (doa.alaska.gov)
Seward DMV loses both employees, closes temporarily

The two employees worked within the city and are the only ones trained to operate the DMV.

Most Read