• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 36s

Soldiers talk about climb, danger on Denali

By Bonney Bowman Photojournalist: Andy Nitchman - 8:08 PM June 23, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Climbing the tallest mountain in North America is not an easy mission, but a group of soldiers from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are celebrating accomplishing that challenge.

One of the soldiers was lucky to make it home safely after putting his equipment through a much tougher test than originally planned.

Of all the gear the 4/25 climbing team took up Mt. McKinley, Spc. Tyler Campbell is most thankful for his harness.

On the fourth day of the climb, one wrong step almost trapped him on those slopes forever.

“We were walking down and there was a snow bridge that I walked on and it was just too weak to hold me up and I just started falling about 15 feet. I fell into a crevasse,” Campbell said.

The solider said he was scared, but that his team had trained for this type of incident.

“Before we left for the mountain, we made sure we understood all the risks the mountain was going to pose and how to mitigate all of them,” said team leader Capt. Matt Hickey.

It was time to see if that training, and their Army gear, could stand up to one of the worst dangers Mt. McKinley had to offer.

“Adrenaline just kind of took over and it was kind of hard to think,” Campbell said. “Everything was cluttered for a good few minutes, but then I remembered the training we went through. We did it a lot. Started going through the steps and that helped me calm down too — just going through the steps of the training to get back out of the hole.”

He made it out and was able to keep heading up the mountain.

Hickey said it was a wake-up call, showing just how daunting the mission was.

“It’s a monumental effort to get up there. Hundreds, I think over 1,000 people have signed up to try to make it happen this year and the success rate right now is less than thirty percent,” Hickey said.

It was slow going. Each step got tougher as they climbed in elevation.

The soldiers say working together helped them keep momentum through the harsh conditions where other groups faltered.

“Everybody’s going to have a bad day and so you always got to be there for that one guy that’s having a bad day. A lot of teamwork,” Campbell said.

They beat bad weather and altitude sickness, reaching the summit on June 15.

“When you get done with it and you finally get back down to more comfortable conditions, you look back and say what we had just achieved as a team was something pretty special and not something a lot of people can say they’ve done,” Hickey said.

The soldiers of the U.S. Army Alaska are expected to be the premier Arctic fighting force in the country.

Testing their skills and equipment on the highest peak in North America is a great way to prove what they can do, they said.

A second team of soldiers from Fort Wainright also attempted to summit McKinley.

They were forced to turn back at 14,000 feet due to bad weather and injuries.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Winter gives cold shoulder to Anchorage snow-based business

    by Dave Leval on Nov 21, 22:35

    Plow trucks usually hit the road around Alaska this time of year, clearing snow from parking lots and roads. But this year, most are parked in driveways, waiting for the next big snowfall to hit the Anchorage area. “We’ve got all the plows off the trucks,” said Mike Anderson, owner of Alaska Premier Services. It’s […]

  • News

    Caring for our soldiers at home

    by Bonney Bowman on Nov 21, 21:51

    Alaska soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have been home for a couple days; getting used to life away from the war and back with their families. It can be a tough adjustment, but the U.S. Army works to help the soldiers make a smooth transition. 1st Lt. Nathan Seaman and his fellow soldiers are going through […]

  • News

    Alaskan advocates optimistic about Obama immigration plan

    by Shannon Ballard on Nov 21, 20:52

    Alaskans are reacting to President Obama’s controversial plans to take executive action on immigration. Obama’s plan offers temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, including thousands in the 49th state. It also protects undocumented parents of children born in the states. Republicans are questioning the president’s right to bypass Congress and act on his own. […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Nov. 21

    by KTVA Weather on Nov 21, 20:19

      Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound - Skies will be cloudy with a chance of showers. Southeast - The panhandle will have showers with snow levels 1000′ to the north and 1400′ around Juneau. Interior and North Slope - Areas will have a mix of sun and clouds with some snow showers by Delta Junction. Slope areas […]

  • News

    Program works to reduce Alaska’s high recidivism rate

    by Lauren Maxwell on Nov 21, 19:43

    About half the people who get out of prison in Alaska will be back within six months: It’s a costly problem some say will require a new prison by 2016 if something doesn’t change. A new state-funded program is hoping to make a difference. It’s called the Partners Reentry Center, and it’s where George Goenett […]

  • News

    Port of Anchorage modernization plan moves forward

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 21, 18:34

    Mayor Dan Sullivan and Anchorage Port Modernization Project engineers unveiled the project’s chosen design concept during a presentation to local lawmakers Friday at City Hall. Concept D involves cutting back and stabilizing the Port of Anchorage’s North Extension, filling shoreline to create additional acreage and rebuilding Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, according to documents distributed […]

  • News

    Alaska unemployment unchanged since August

    by Associated Press on Nov 21, 15:23

    Alaska’s unemployment rate stood at 6.8 percent in October, a full percentage point above the national average. The state labor department says the difference between the two is getting closer to the gap that existed before the recession. During the recession, Alaska’s seasonally adjusted rate fell below that of the national rate, as Alaska wasn’t […]

  • News

    Pipeline projects gets an export approval

    by Associated Press on Nov 21, 15:00

    A federal agency has approved the export of liquefied natural gas from a proposed mega-project in Alaska to free-trade nations. The U.S. Department of Energy said Friday that the automatic approval, which was required by law, should not be read to indicate the department’s views on a still-pending request to export to non-free trade countries, […]