• 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

    Anchorage family wants justice after 12-year-old deaf boy’s dog killed in hit and run

    by Sierra Starks on Sep 30, 20:20

    A broken red collar is a reminder that there’s something missing at Valerie Anderson’s East Anchorage home. It’s the collar that belonged to Scooby Doo, the family’s labrador retriever, who was 12-year-old J.J. Anderson’s best friend. J.J has special needs and wears cochlear implants to hear. The family got Scooby to be a companion for […]

  • Lifestyle

    Make it Alaskan Festival kicks off holiday craft show season

    by Heather Hintze on Sep 30, 18:59

    Like its name suggests, everything you’ll find at the Make it Alaskan Festival is made in Alaska. While most of the 140 vendors came with a complete inventory to the show at the Sullivan Arena, artists like Sarah Chatfield continued to piece together products in their free time. “I try to stay busy while I’m […]

  • News

    UAA team works to find new ways to bring running water to rural Alaska

    by Lauren Maxwell on Sep 30, 18:55

    It’s something most people in Anchorage take for granted — running water. But according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), more than 3,300 homes in rural Alaska don’t have running water or a flush toilet. Several years ago the DEC started the Water and Sewer Challenge. Teams were challenged to find innovative ways to bring […]

  • News

    APD: 1 dead in West Anchorage industrial accident

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 30, 17:48

    A man was killed, Friday afternoon, when a wall he and another man were removing collapsed, the Anchorage Police Department (APD) wrote in a release. Few details were immediately available, but at 3:34 p.m. emergency responders were called to a four-plex on the 1500 block of W. 40 Avenue. Police said the men were removing […]

  • Lifestyle

    DOF: Alaska wraps up minor fire season

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 30, 15:40

    Alaska had an early start to the wildfire season, but the Division of Forestry (DOF) says the total number of acres burned this year were “well below normal level.” In a release from DOF, the agency wrote there were 558 fires, which burned 500,095 acres. In Interior Alaska, during the two summer months that typically […]

  • News

    UN appoints first expert on LGBT violence and discrimination

    by Associated Press on Sep 30, 15:09

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The Human Rights Council has appointed international human rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand as the first U.N. independent expert charged with investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. John Fisher, Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, said his appointment on Friday “made history” and “will bring […]

  • News

    Berkowitz announces cuts to fill $40M budget gap, plans to increase police force

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 30, 13:35

    The Municipality of Anchorage faces an estimated $40 million budget gap, according to numbers released by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at a meeting Friday. The municipality’s 2017 budget is $502 million, up from $497 million in 2016. “We are dealing with tough times in Anchorage and we are dealing with tough times because the state has […]

  • News

    Consumer demand for Alaska cruises growing again

    by Rachel D'Oro / AP on Sep 30, 13:28

    A growing consumer demand for Alaska cruises has put the state back in the million-passenger club as it rebounds after a leaner stretch. And next year is expected to be even better with larger capacity ships added to the Far North lineup. The millionth passenger was counted as the Alaska cruise industry’s season was nearing […]