I recently visited Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America and my favorite place on the planet, for the first time in 13 years. Prior to working full time as a war reporter, I lived in Alaska for nearly a decade, where my life revolved around spending my summers mountaineering in the Alaska Range.
Denali in particular has always been close to my heart. As an alpinist, I take my orders from the mountains and see them as living things. So I make my climbing plans, but then, of course, they are always subject to the weather and route changes the mountain dictates at any given time.
Having worked on Denali as both a guide and a volunteer rescue ranger with the National Park Service, I’ve been lucky enough to have stood atop Denali several times, and the influence the mountain has had and continues to have on my life has been profound.
By viewing the mountain as a living thing, I also now view it as a being that is suffering from the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). The signs this year, along with anecdotal evidence from my mountaineering ranger friends, are overwhelming.