08/15/2006

$1,000 Fee to Climb Denali, AK?

Date: 8/16/2006

Earlier this year word spread that Denali National Park and Preserve was considering increasing its fees to climb Denali and Foraker from $200 to as much as $1,000. The Access Fund and American Alpine Club have been lobbying National Park Service (NPS) officials and congressional representatives regarding this dramatic and unprecedented special use permit requirement.

Much of the parks justification for the increase is that the mountaineering program already costs the NPS far more than budgeted and that climbers incur more costs than other user groupseven before any rescue expenses are added into the equation.

These points are debatable and the Access Fund feels that such a fee increase is not proportionate with NPS policy governing special uses because mountaineering is specifically written into the purpose for the park and climbers already pay an elevated fee to cover their costs.

The cost of the mountaineering program reflects NPSs administration of the park, not the actual needs of mountaineers. Such an increase will create an affluence based restriction for people who will no longer be able to financially afford climbing Denali and Foraker. See www.accessfund.org/pdf/AFdenali.pdf for the AFs past comments on Denali management issues.

In May, Access Fund Policy Director lobbied agency officials and congressional oversight committees in Washington, DC, expressing concern that climbers were being unfairly targeted with the Denali fees and that there were some potential options to reduce the costs of the mountaineering program such as downsizing the administrative camps on Denali and phasing in more self-reliance among climbers.

The American Alpine Club has also been very proactive in terms of identifying options to reduce costs that at the same time ensure the NPS complies with its mandate. Both organizations will work together moving forward to alert climbers when this fee increase is publicly announced and advocate for the interests of Alaska mountaineers.