US Army Chinook helicopters help establish base camp on Denali

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In this photo provided by the U.S. Army, National Park Service soldiers and personnel unload equipment and supplies from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on the Kahiltna Glacier, Alaska, Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Those who wish to climb the highest peak in North America got a boost this week from the US military. Airmen from B Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright flew two helicopters Wednesday to continue the decades-old tradition of helping establish base camp on Denali, a 20,310-foot mountain located about 240 miles north of Anchorage. (John Pennell/Army)

DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND RESERVE, Alaska — Those wishing to climb North America’s highest peak got a head start this week from the United States military.

Airmen from B Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright flew two bus-sized CH-47F Chinook helicopters on Wednesday to continue the decades-old tradition of helping establish camp base on Denali, a 20,310-foot (6,190-meter) mountain located about 240 miles (386 kilometers) north of Anchorage.

Thousands of pounds of equipment and supplies were delivered to the Kahiltna Glacier, base camp site below 7,200 feet (2,195 meters).

The National Park Service sets up this camp and another at the 14,000-foot (4,267-meter) level as climbers attempt to ascend Denali along the West Buttress route, the most popular for climbers. Last year, of the 1,007 climbers who attempted to summit Denali, 943 took the West Buttress route. Of these, 490 made it to the top, or 52%.

Soldiers from Fort Wainwright often return to Denali when helicopters are needed for high altitude rescues. This assistance is provided for a variety of reasons, including when the National Park Service helicopter is out of service or when there are more patients than the small Park Service helicopter can carry.

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