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Published: July 11th 2012
Or Denali as the Athabascan Native People call it. View from the airplane. Only the climbers get a better look at it.
We have another exciting adventure planned for today. At 8:00AM we drove over to Talkeetna Air Taxi at the Talkeetna Airport. Talkeetna Airport is the base for all flightseeing tours of Denali and also the base for climbers to be flown up to base camps where they start their climb of Mt. McKinley. Each year about1,200 people attempt to climb it. On June 16th, 4 Japanese climbers died climbing after hit by an avalanche. At 20,328 ft., Mt. McKinley is the highest mountain in North America. It is also considered to be the tallest mountain in the world from base to peak. According to Wikipedia: "McKinley has a summit elevation
of 20,320 feet (6,194 m) above sea level
, making it the highest peak in North America.
Measured from base to peak, it is also the world's tallest mountain on land.
McKinley sits atop a sloping plain with elevations from 300 metres (1,000 ft) to 900 metres (3,000 ft), for a base-to-peak height of 5,300 to 5,900 metres (17,000 to 19,000 ft).
, on the other hand, sits atop the Tibetan Plateau
at a much higher base elevation. Base elevations for Everest range from 4,200 m
Our Pilot, Tyler
Kid kneeling in prayer behind him.
(13,800 ft) on the south side to 5,200 m (17,100 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau
, for a base-to-peak height in the range of 3,650 to 4,650 metres (12,000 to 15,300 ft)." (Never knew that before!)
We ended up flying in the exact same type aircraft that we flew to see the bears, the single engine turboprop Otter. Our pilot, another young guy named Tyler, told us that he thinks it's the best plane for flying up to Mt. McKinley and landing on the glaciers. He's right. The higher power of the turboprop vs. piston engine planes would come in handy. Once again, there were several layers of clouds with the highest at about 12,000 ft. Tyler flew us around, through and above all the clouds to give us spectacular views of all the mountains and glaciers of Denali National Park. These guys are really good. He flew us very close to the mountain walls, through canyons over glaciers scaring the hell out of us at times.
After climbing above the highest layer of clouds, the view was unbelievable. Down on the ground in Denali it was quite cloudy, but as all you pilots know, it's always severe clear on
Jan Returning The Purses
No shopping up here, thank God!
top. We flew around two other monster mountains in the park, Mt. Foraker at over 17,000 ft. and Mt. Hunter, over 14,500 ft. The 10 tallest mountains in the United States are in Alaska. Everywhere you looked, the view was jaw-dropping.
Justin worked his way between these mountains and lined us up to land on Ruth Glacier, about 6,000 ft. in elevation. With all the clouds we flew near, I first thought that we were descending through a cloud layer. But then he pulled the nose up and made a soft landing on the glacier, taxiing around to let us get out of the plane. Evidently the wives thought they might be doing some shopping on the glacier because they both brought their purses with them when they got off the plane. After a couple minutes they realized that they wouldn't be needing purses and put them back in the plane.
The glacier is like crunchy, icy snow to walk on. Unlike three years ago, this time I was in the back of the plane and managed to get down without falling. (yeah, Pat I listened to the pilot AND Jan) As soon as you get out and
start walking around, you are absolutely awestruck. The sun was shining brightly and the glacier canyon we were in was as quiet as a cathedral. This has to be one of the greatest things you could ever experience. I am so lucky to have done this twice now and if and when I get back to Alaska, I'll do it again.
After our return to the airport, we went into town to try to find a late breakfast. It was another beautiful day and we wanted to sit outside, so we grabbed a picnic table at the Mile High Pizza Pie and had some coffee and breakfast sandwiches while discussing the morning's adventure. What a day!
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