Looks like the poor man's Everest could get more expensive: The National Park Service might raise fees for climbers attempting Denali and Foraker starting in 2012. The 150 percent increase means individual climbers will have to pay $500 instead of $200 for the right to attempt the highest or third highest peak in the United States.
Right now Denali faces a $1.2 million budget shortfall, which they blame on increased rescues and waste disposal directly associated with climbers and climbing groups on the high peaks; increased fees could help cover the distance. Businesses tied in with the climbing industry already protesting the idea. In July, air-taxi and guide companies sent a letter to Alaskan senators:
"It appears that climbers are inappropriately being singled out.... many can just barely afford to make the climb. An even higher fee could make the climb prohibitively expensive for the general public as well as our clients."
The NPS says they're considering all options, and this proposal and others will be opened for an 18-month public comment period before being put into effect.
Denali climbers seem to be stratified into two camps: 1) Wealthy peeps who won't mind dropping an extra $300 to stand on America's rooftop, and 2) dirtbag climbers who "can just barely afford to make the climb" but will probably sell their beat-up pickups or mangy dogs to make it happen anyway. As for alternatives, we could always start charging yahoos who get lost twice $1.2 million fines. Seems fair to me.
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