Denali, North America’s tallest peak, from an airplane flying over the Alaska Range near Talkeetna. Officials on Monday said five people had to ski through a snowstorm to a shelter after they landed on Ruth Glacier at the base of Denali. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Denali, North America’s tallest peak, from an airplane flying over the Alaska Range near Talkeetna. Officials on Monday said five people had to ski through a snowstorm to a shelter after they landed on Ruth Glacier at the base of Denali. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Snowstorm strands 5 who landed 3 planes on Denali glacier

They were stranded for the weekend after landing Friday on Ruth Glacier.

By Mark Thiessen / Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — Five people had to ski through a heavy Alaska snowstorm to a mountain chalet after abandoning their airplanes on a glacier on North America’s tallest peak, where they were stranded for the weekend, officials said Monday.

The five landed Friday in three separate small airplanes — a Cessna 180 and two Piper PA18s — on Ruth Glacier on Denali, said Maureen Gualtieri, a spokesperson for Denali National Park and Preserve. A fast-moving storm prevented them from flying off the glacier, and they spent Friday night in their airplanes at about 4,500 feet. They woke up Saturday and realized they didn’t have enough resources to ride out the storm.

“That’s when they called for help,” Gualtieri said.

Two guides who work at the Sheldon Chalet about 3½ miles away were temporarily hired by the National Park Service to serve as a search and rescue team, guiding those who were stranded back to the chalet.

“We contacted them there, and they had the requisite gear, and so brought them skis and harnesses and roped up with them and guided them back,” Gualtieri said.

The weather cleared Monday, and she expected the five to be flown off the 20,310-foot mountain. But their aircraft will remain on Denali for now because the storm dumped up to 3 feet of snow on the glacier, she said. And when they do return for the planes, there will be some hard work to do to get them off the mountain.

“It’ll probably be a larger effort than just getting back in the aircraft and flying out,” she said. They will “maybe go in with some more people and snowshoes and make for a runway out there in the glacier.”

And how does someone make a runway in 3 feet of new snow? People would likely have to stomp out a runway with their snowshoes, she said.

None of the five people was injured, and the airplanes were not damaged when they left them Saturday.

More in News

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. A medical director at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control says the numbers of active COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern are higher than what has been publicly reported in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP
COVID at a glance for Thursday, April 15

These numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau… Continue reading

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, April 15, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

COVID at a glance for Wednesday, April 14

The most recent state and local numbers.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 14, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state of Ohio that tried to get the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data used for drawing congressional and legislative districts ahead of its planned release. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)
Alaska joins 15 other states in backing Alabama’s challenge to Census privacy tool

The case could go directly to the Supreme Court if appealed.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
CDC freeze on Johnson and Johnson vaccine sets clinics scrambling

The odds of being affected are vanishingly rare, but CDC says better safe than sorry.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

Most Read