Jost Kobusch is used to dealing with the many logistical challenges that come with climbing. He's been spending the last 18 months gearing up for a rare solo winter ascent of Denali in January. He made his own custom skis and clothing, and has been saving up the money needed for such a large expedition.

But the 26-year-old German mountaineer wasn't prepared for an email he received from the National Park Service last month.


"It was like, 'Hey Jost, we are facing a shutdown, this might be the last message you get from me, just watch the news,'" Kobusch said. "And then I was like, 'What the f--- is going on?'"

According to the National Park Service, in order to climb Denali or Foraker, climbers must pre-register 60 days in advance, pay a special use fee, and attend a mandatory safety orientation at the Talkeetna Ranger Station.

Kobusch says he had all the fees and paperwork in order. All that remained was the ranger meeting. But a partial government shutdown that included NPS was soon underway. Kobusch had already purchased flight tickets and lined up a film crew. He flew to Anchorage on Dec. 30, hoping the situation would be resolved soon.
 
By Monday, however, his hopes had faded.

"Watching the news, I don't think it's going to be solved," Kobusch said. "So I'll just climb something else." 

He's got his eye on Kahiltna Queen, a 12,380-foot peak just 6.5 miles from Denali. To his knowledge, it's never been solo-climbed in the winter and doesn't require a permit from the National Park Service.

Climbing the Queen will gain him considerable experience both climbing and camping in the Alaska Range – but it's not the mountain he wanted.

"It's kind of a big failure." Kobusch said. "I mean it's one thing if you are on the mountain and it's windy and you are forced to return by a storm. It's another thing to be forced to return because of some government bulls---."

He still hopes to climb Denali in January next year.

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