Federal shutdown forces climber to abandon solo Denali attempt
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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