The hills are alive with the sound of Black Hawk helicopters at Denali National Park, home of the highest mountain in North America.
With spring ebbing toward summer, Denali National Park Preserve mountaineering staffers are putting the finishing touches on the base camp and high-altitude camps needed to support the 1,200 climbers who will assault Mt. McKinley and other nearby peaks this year. And they couldn’t do it without the support of three US Army UH-60's, or Black Hawks.
The Black Hawks began flying missions from Talkeetna, Alaska, to the 7,200-foot-level on the Kahiltna Glacier, site of the Mt. McKinley base camp operations, two weeks ago, hauling almost 15,000 pounds of gear thus far.
“The military uses these missions as high-altitude training exercises,” said Maureen McLaughlin, mountaineering specialist at Talkeetna Ranger Station. “They familiarize and train their crews in flying and landing in glaciated and mountainous terrain.”