A Soviet mountain climber zoomed up America's highest mountain so fast that even park rangers who reported the feat Friday shook their heads in disbelief.
Anatoyla Burkreuv accomplished in half a day what most climbers would take two weeks to do.Burkreuv reached the summit of 20,320-foot Mount McKinley in 101/2 hours, said Bob Seibert, chief mountaineering ranger for Denali National Park climbers.
"This goes in our books as a record speed ascent for that route," Seibert said from Talkeetna.
Burkreuv, whose age and home town were not listed on his registration form, had just completed a successful ascent of McKinley with a guided expedition.
After he came back down last week, he decided to attempt a one-day climb, Seibert said.
"He was very well-acclimatized and in exceptionally good condition," Seibert said.
Burkreuv went up alone, traveling with almost no gear and supplies, "depending on his speed and stamina to keep him out of trouble," Seibert said. But there was great risk involved because of McKinley's changeable weather, the climber's lack of food and fuel and the possibility that even an acclimatized climber can suffer altitude sickness.
"If you're going to shoot that in one day, you just pick a good day," Seibert said.
Park rangers do not encourage speed climbs, but Seibert said, "That's part of mountaineering."
Climbers generally start from the 7,000-foot base camp and head up the West Buttress route, with the fastest climb to the summit being 181/2 hours. Burkreuv set out from the base of the West Rib, at the 11,000-foot level, and climbed the Northeast Fork route. Despite the "head start," leaving at a higher level, rangers entered his accomplishment in their rec-ord books, and Seibert called the feat "very impressive."
Burkreuv returned to base camp the same day, making the round-trip in less than 24 hours. Other climbers reported that Burkreuv zipped by them. Most climbers typically take almost three weeks to climb McKinley from base camp to summit.
Rangers said Burkreuv is an experienced climber in the Soviet Union and assisted in the guided expedition up McKinley.