Last week, as climbers were finishing up their Everest season, mountain forecast had summit temperatures at a relatively balmy minus 20°C (-4°F).
Meanwhile, over on Denali, those attempting to summit were climbing up towards the 6,192 meter (20,320 feet) summit and facing minus 34°C (-29°F).
This week, with everyone headed home from Everest, climbers clearing out of Base Camp have been waking up to temperatures little below freezing, and daily streams of water pouring off the glacier by mid morning. While at the 14,000 foot Camp on Denali (4,268 meters), it’s still close to 20°C below (-4°F).
With 958 climbers registered for Denali this season, and 447 currently on the mountain, only Steve Plain and John Gupta have summited, the early season success rate is still at just 5%. As the season warms those numbers will certainly rise, with last years biggest day being 31 May, when 54 people reached the top of North America.
Steve Plain, who just finished off the 7 summits in 117 days, completed Denali prior to Everest, summiting in temperatures reported at around -40°C (-40°F). And with his early season ascent on 4 April this year, his team of 4 had the mountain to themselves and braved conditions that looked more extreme than anything they experienced on Everest, even though they did make sure and go to the top in the very first wave of Everest climbers to clinch his record.