Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The National Park service is looking to the Lower 48 for input on plans to increase the fee for scaling North America’s highest peak and nearby Mt. Foraker. Public meetings are planned for Seattle and Golden, Colo. next week. Meetings were held in Alaska last month. Park Service spokeswoman Kris Fister says the current $200 fee doesn’t come close to covering the $1,200 per climber it costs to run the mountaineering program.
Over a thousand people try to scale Denali each year. The fee, which started out at $150, used to recover about 30 percent of the program’s cost, but now, even after being upped to $200, covers just 17 percent. Fister says raising the climber fee isn’t the only option, but that they’ve already tried to maximize efficiency and feel the agency is offering what’s required to run a responsible mountaineering program.
Fister says Denali’s climbing program was ramped up in the mid 1990’s due to increasing numbers of deaths on the mountain. Fister says of the world’s high peaks where fees are charged, Denali’s is on low end. Any increase in the climbing fee eventually approved would not go into effect until the 2012 season.
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