A team of firefighters from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue services, in the West Midlands region of England, will soon be climbing the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, as part of a 'Fire and Ice Expedition' to raise money for charity and sponsored in part by Luxfer Gas Cylinders.
The challenging expedition to ascend the highest mountain on the North American continent will take place from 6th May through to 1st June, with Luxfer helping to sponsor this inspiring achievement. The Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Team hopes to raise £34,000 for the Fire Service Benevolent Fund, which assists injured firefighters. Experienced climbers will accompany the team to the summit and back and eam members have been undertaking a strict fitness regime to prepare themselves both physically and mentally.
Mount McKinley, part of the Alaska Range, was named after US President William McKinley in 1897, but the mountain is also known as 'Denali' - a much older name that means 'the big one' in the Athabaskan language spoken by Native Americans of the region.
In terms of elevation above sea level, the world’s highest mountain is 29,028-foot Mount Everest in the Himalaya Range in Tibet and Nepal. However, many geologists and mountaineers actually consider Mount McKinley to be the world’s highest mountain, per se, because of its significantly greater vertical rise. The base of Mount Everest sits atop the 17,000-foot-high Tibetan Plateau, and the real rise of the mountain itself is only about 12,000 feet.
Even in May, Staffordshire expedition members may face severe temperatures of -35 degrees°C as they traverse glacial ice fields and ascend toward the perpetually snowbound McKinley summit. During storms, winds high on the mountain can exceed 150 miles per hour. While regularly challenged by the public, climbing Denali is still a dangerous undertaking—especially since the risk of altitude sickness is unusually severe on this mountain not only due to high altitude, but also because of its latitude that compounds the effects of oxygen depravation.