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Denali rescuers reveal challenges of ‘baby-sitting’ ‘entitled’ climbers

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Late on the night of June 11, the call came: Another climber needed to be evacuated off of Denali. This man set off the 16th major search and rescue effort of the 2022 season — with three people having already died on the mountain.

Located in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska — 237 miles north of Anchorage and just 85 miles below the North Pole — it is the tallest mountain in North America, topping out at 23,710 feet. Denali also ranks as one of the continent’s most treacherous peak to climb.

“The problem is that people think they are entitled to rescue. It’s a big ask, no matter where you are,” Tucker Chenoweth, South District Ranger for Denali National Park and Reserve, told The Post. “But if you put yourself in a high altitude, arctic environment, that is your choice. You have to go into it with the attitude that you will do everything you can to help yourself.”

Too often for guides, said Wyatt Evenson, Alaska and Seven Summits Coordinator and Guide with American Alpine Institute, “It is high-altitude babysitting.”

Guide Wyatt Evenson said that, at its worst moments, his job can be like "high-altitude babysitting."
Guide Wyatt Evenson said that, at its worst moments, his job can be like “high-altitude babysitting.”
Courtesy of Wyatt Evenson

Denali has been the source of 123 fatalities since 1932. And that’s with it being used by adventurers for just three months out of the year: Before late April, it is too cold for even the most intrepid to handle; after mid-July, warm weather causes snow to melt and creates perilous conditions due to soft-spot crevasses in the mountain, through which hikers can fall to their deaths.

“The crevasses become like trap doors with 200-foot drops,” Chenoweth said. “They become difficult to navigate safely.”

When the recent call came for help, a group of rangers and an Air National Guard Para-Rescueman, also known as a PJ, were, fortunately, a mere half-mile away from the imperiled climber.

Tucker Chenoweth, South District Ranger for Denali National Park and Reserve, said climbers shouldn't necessarily expect a rescue when they put themselves in dangerous situations.
Tucker Chenoweth, South District Ranger for Denali National Park and Reserve, said climbers shouldn’t necessarily expect a rescue when they put themselves in dangerous situations.
Courtesy of Tucker Chenoweth

He had fallen nearly 1,000 feet, going from an altitude of around 18,000 feet to 17,100 feet. “He came to rest in a snow field,” Matt Steible, the attending PJ who also functions as a paramedic, recalled to The Post. “He activated his personal beeper [a satellite communications device, brought in by climbers, that can send SOS signals] and we headed in to save him.”

The five-person posse trekked across frozen snow, wearing crampons to step upon hard-packed ground-cover that can suddenly become ankle-deep or even cover a crevasse, in order to reach the injured climber.

“It took us 20 or so minutes,” said Steible. “He complained of neck pain and shortness of breath. Frostbite was developing on his hands and fingers. We placed him in a litter” — basically, a cross between a portable stretcher and a toboggan, secured with rope — “and did an 800-foot descent with him. We slid the litter down the snow, which, luckily, was nice and smooth.”

Denali has been the source of 123 fatalities since 1932.
Denali has been the source of 123 fatalities since 1932.
AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File

The park’s A-Star B3e helicopter, stripped down to limit weight and outfitted with an internal oxygen system, had already been called to the lower site. But flying conditions were bad and visibility was abysmal.

As explained by Chenoweth, “We also had a military plane guiding the helicopter from weather hole to weather hole,” which are spots of calmer weather than in the surrounding area, all of it hampered, in this case, by nearby wildfire smoke. “The airplane pilot looks for holes in the cloud cover and tells the helicopter pilot where to go. The plane continued to circle while the helicopter did what we call a tow-in landing: It was still flying but touched down on the snow. We loaded the patient into the helicopter and the pilot flew him down to 1,4000 feet where a paramedic joined them for a flight to Talkeetna [a town near the bottom of Denali]. He was then put into a LifeMed helicopter and taken to the local hospital for emergency spinal surgery. I heard that he is doing okay.”

How did the rescue crew feel about it all? “We were pumped to have pulled it off and potentially saved a life,” said Steible.

Denali National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska, has already seen three deaths this climbing season.
Denali National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska, has already seen three deaths this climbing season.
Courtesy of Wyatt Evenson

“When we save a life,” Chenoweth said, “it reminds us of why we do our jobs. Too often, we’re doing body recovery.”

But, from Denali, that is no easy task.

“If we find the body, we hand it over the coroner,” Daryl Miller, formerly the South District Ranger for Denali, told The Post. “If [a climber] dies at 17,000 feet, we longline him in a body bag to 14,000 feet and fly him out in a plane. You have emergency contact information, get a pastor and have [the pastor] deliver the news. What do you say? ‘Your son died in an avalanche’? If there is no body, you have a presumptive death hearing four- to six-months later. That makes it official.”

Matthias Rimml of Austria was making a solo descent when he lost his grip on the rope and dropped some 200 feet down Denali to his death.
Matthias Rimml of Austria was making a solo descent when he lost his grip on the rope and dropped some 200 feet down Denali to his death.
@matthias.rimml/Facebook

Denali’s already been the site of three fatalities this season. One victim of the mountain, Matthias Rimml of Austria, was making a solo descent, lost his grip on the rope and dropped some 200 feet to his death. Another fell into one of the deadly crevasses. A third suffered cardiac arrest in the thin, high-elevation air.

“Denali is a dangerous mountain with a robust commercial climbing element,” Andy Hall, author of “Denali’s Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America’s Wildest Peak,” told The Post. “The danger is that it can be really benign and pleasant one day” — with nearly 24 hours of daylight in summer — “but then it turns lethal the next.”

Hall recalled an extreme story from a hiker who survived brutal conditions during the spring of 1990, when frigid gusts rose up to 80 miles per hour: “The wind knocked him down and he referred to it as ‘being in the blender’” — meaning the blasts of air were powerful enough to spin him around. “Another guy looked into the wind and his corneas froze.”

Andy Hall, author of “Denali's Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America's Wildest Peak," recounts tough expeditions on the mountain.
Andy Hall, author of “Denali’s Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America’s Wildest Peak,” recounts tough expeditions on the mountain.
Courtesy of Andy Hall

And climbers on Denali cannot fully expect to get rescued. Though there are climbing rangers specifically trained for saving lives on the mountain, people in need only get helicoptered off for conditions that are described as threatening to “life, limb or eye.” Everything else is considered frivolous.

That lesson was learned the hard way by Dr. Jason Lance of Green Mountain, Utah. He was accused, in a Department of Justice press release, by U.S. attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr., of “impeding the investigation of a near fatal accident and attempting to secure a helicopter rescue under misleading premises” after abandoning his ascent to the top. Lance ultimately descended without assistance.

Later, at the request of a mountaineering ranger, Lance is alleged by the United States Attorney’s Office, district of Alaska, to have initially refused to turn over the satellite device from which he is said to have called for help. When he did, messages had allegedly been deleted. He pleaded guilty to violating a lawful order and received a $10,000 fine and a five-year ban from Denali.

Located just 85 miles beneath the North Pole, Denali peaks at 23,710 feet.
Located just 85 miles beneath the North Pole, Denali peaks at 23,710 feet.
NY Post

Others wind up much worse.

“A fall on Denali is often 1,000 to 2,000 feet; some survive it but not many,” said Miller. “Some freeze to death. The most frequent injury on Denali is frostbite. If you have it in your hands, you can’t climb. Get it badly enough in your feet and you can’t even walk. Once you are non-ambulatory, you are in danger of dying. We have to get you off the mountain.”

But when flying conditions are rough, which seems to be much of the time, sending a helicopter for even the most extreme situations becomes a judgment call.

Denali’s Howl by Andy Hall
“Denali is a dangerous mountain with a robust commercial climbing element,” Andy Hall, author of “Denali’s Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America’s Wildest Peak,” told The Post.

“We had an accident at the Denali Pass,” recalled Chenoweth. “There was a fall with two fatalities and the third climber was a life-threat. It was 1 o’clock in the morning, light was flat and it was too dangerous to fly in there. I had to say no. [The remaining climber] had to survive through the night. We got in the next morning and he was still alive. Rangers were on the scene and the guy ended up okay.”

For Chenoweth, “Rescuer safety is the priority. My job is to make sure our rangers come home with their fingers and toes intact.”

There is also a level of reality that climbers should bring to Denali.

“I don’t know if self-awareness is a trait that a lot of people grasp,” Evenson told The Post, adding that the majority of people on the mountain have positive experiences but that lack of preparedness can sour an adventure. “If you can’t figure out how to walk on crampons, Denali is not for you. I had a guy who completed a final preparation course with me. He did fine and it went to his head. He gained weight over three months and was not fitness-ready for the climb. After a day-and-a-half, his knee bothered him severely.

“Another guide and I got up in the middle of the night and walked him down to base camp. He invested time and money — $10,000 — and did not take it seriously. That was disappointing.”

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What Time Will ‘Riverdale’ Season 6 Be on Netflix?

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The season finale of Riverdale aired in late July on The CW. Notice we said season finale? Thankfully, the beloved series will return for a seventh season, but, unfortunately, Season 7 will be the final installment of Riverdale.

If you already streamed the current season, make sure to read Alex Zalben’s interview with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on Decider. If you’re waiting to binge Season 6 on Netflix, well, you better clear your calendar because all 22 episodes are about to drop on the streamer. What time will the sixth season of Riverdale debut on Netflix? What time does Netflix release shows? Here’s everything you need to know.

WHEN IS THE RIVERDALE SEASON 6 NETFLIX RELEASE DATE?

Riverdale Season 6 premieres Sunday, August 7 on Netflix.

HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN RIVERDALE SEASON 6?

The sixth season of Riverdale consists of 22 episodes.

WHAT TIME DOES NETFLIX RELEASE NEW SHOWS?

Netflix releases new episodes at 3:00 a.m. ET/12:00 a.m. PT.

WHAT TIME WILL RIVERDALE SEASON 6 BE ON NETFLIX?

Netflix is based out of California, so Riverdale Season 6 will be available to stream at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) beginning Sunday, August 7. If the clock strikes 12:00 (or 3:00 a.m. for folks on the East Coast) and you don’t see the new episodes, give it a moment, hit refresh, and then enjoy the show!

WILL THERE BE A SEASON 7 OF RIVERDALE?

Yes! Decider recently covered that very topic.

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Actress Anne Heche Suffers Severe Burns After Crashing Car Into Los Angeles Home

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Actress Anne Heche, known for her roles in such films as Donnie Brasco, Volcano and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was involved in a fiery car crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles on Friday.

According to TMZ, Heche was driving a blue Mini Cooper and had first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. Residents of the apartment complex tried to get her out of the vehicle but she backed up and sped off.

Footage of Heche speeding down the streets of her neighborhood had been obtained by TMZ as well as her initial encounter at the apartment complex.

In the first clip, you can hear her car crash towards the end. It has been reported that the actress crashed into someone’s home, causing her vehicle and the house to erupt into flames. Heche suffered severe burns and was resisting being taken away in a stretcher. You can also view footage of this via the TMZ article.

It has not been confirmed whether alcohol has been involved in the incident since her condition prevents doctors from performing any tests to determine if she was driving under the influence. She is currently intubated in the hospital but expected to live.

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These are the vulgar license-plate requests the DMV has rejected

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Stay CL4SSY, New York!

The state Department of Motor Vehicles nixed 3,752 requests for vanity license plates in the last three years because it deemed them too raunchy, radical or simply ridiculous.

New York’s personalized plates go for $60 initially, and then $31.25 annually for renewal. You can get any plate as long as no one else has it and it’s not offensive.

Odds are a request for a plate that marks a wedding anniversary or shows your allegiance to a team — like METS86 — will pass muster with the DMV gatekeepers.

Vulgarity won’t get you to first base.

So plates with the phrase LFGM — the acronym for Pete Alonso’s “Let’s F–king Go Mets” rallying cry — did not make the cut.

And you won’t see anyone driving around with the custom plates MILFDAD, AS5M4N and WLHUNG.

Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
New York DMV
NYC123
New York state Department of Motor Vehicles denied more than 3.5 thousand requests for license plates deemed inappropriate.
New York DMV
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
New York DMV

The DMV also put NICEBUNS, FATFANNY, GOTAPOOP and BENDOVER in the rear-view mirror.

One player unsuccessfully tried to score the plate YESDADDY, to no avail.

The DMV also shot down such dark requests as DEADGIRL, GENOC1DE, S8TAN, DETONATE and MURDERM3.

“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
New York DMV
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
New York DMV
BOOBIE is prohibited.
BOOBIE is prohibited.
New York DMV

Getting political is a dead end too — FJOEBIDN, FDTRUMP and CNNLIES were nixed.

LUDEDUDE, NARCO, GOT METH and BLUNT also went up in smoke.

Staten Island attorney Bill Dertinger said his blue 1995 Jaguar SJS was tagged with ESQLTD after his company and his 2014 Porsche had the plate GHOSTGTS because the sleek sportscar was white.

“The plates can make you stand out — which can be a curse or a blessing,” the 54-year-old Dertinger said. “Make sure you don’t cut anybody off.”

A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
New York DMV
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
New York DMV
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
New York DMV

There must be a New York Jets fan playing referee at the DMV because a request for the seemingly innocent plate GASE was sidelined. Ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase had an offensive 9-23 win-loss record during his forgettable two-year tenure.

The DMV would not reveal who gives the final yea or nay.

“The DMV reviews all custom license plate requests and works hard to ensure that any combinations that may be considered objectionable are rejected,” said agency spokesman Tim O’Brien.

“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
New York DMV
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
New York DMV

He said guidelines on what plate combinations are restricted can be found on the DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/learn-about-personalized-plates. Approximately 50,000 personalized and custom plates are sold per year, O’Brien said.

Bagged Tags

The state DMV has rejected 3,752 requests for custom license plates in the last three years because it deemed them potentially offensive. Here are some:

YESDADDY

FJOEBIDN

FDTRUMP

GLOCKS

FLYMOFO

BOOBIE

AS5M4N

BUDLIGHT

DEADGIRL

SUM8ITCH

GENOC1DE

S8TAN

CNNLIES

DETONATE

MURDERM3

MILFDAD

WLHUNG

Source: NYS DMV

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