The U.S. National Park Service is proposing to raise mountaineering fees by 150 percent in Denali National Park, Alaska, the location of North America’s tallest mountain, Mt. McKinley.
If approved, the cost for climbing in the park would rise from $200 to $500 per climber, according to a park service press release.
The park service said the $200 currently charged for climbing in Denali, only covers 17 percent of the estimated $1200 it costs to support each climber.
“Climber numbers since 2002 have remained essentially flat, as has NPS staffing,” the announcement said. “Excluding costs of the high altitude helicopter portion of the program, operational expenses have gone up significantly, due mainly to inflation.”
The park service is also planning to raise climbing fees in Rainier National Park from $30 to $58.
Climbers groups, including the Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Mountain Guides Association are opposing the rate hikes.
“One of our primary concerns is that the dramatic 150% fee increase proposed by the NPS will make it too expensive for many American climbers to access Denali, one of the most classic and highly sought-after summits in the World,” the groups said in a joint statement.
The climbing organizations said that climbers are unfairly charged for aspects of park management that have nothing to do with the mountaineering program, and that the cost of servicing mountaineers is actually much lower than the $1200 estimate.
The park service uses the fees to pay for rescue operations and training, position of radio personnel, human waste removal and administrative support of the climbing services.
The park service will collect public comment on the proposed fee hike until January 31. Specifically, they want feedback on:
1) Whether current mountaineering program is the most cost effective, efficient and safe program possible
2) How much of the cost should be recovered from users, and ideas on how those costs can be distributed
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