DENALI, Alaska (KTUU) - Two brothers from Nome have become the first people to summit Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America, this season.
Oliver, 21, and Wilson Hoogendorn, 20, of Nome, reached the summit of Denali, which is 20,310 feet high, on May 19, 2019. They started their expedition on May 5, according to the National Park Service.
The brothers told KTUU by phone that it was their second time climbing Denali. They first attempted Denali last summer with a team of six, but had to turn back when a team member became ill. They say they are still in shock over the experience.
"That was so hard when we got to 17,000 feet, we were totally done, almost did not even want to summit, a lot of questions of, why are we here, why are doing this, but by persevering, and wanting to finish what we started," Oliver said.
Oliver says they got stuck at 9,000 feet for four days, and were even passed by a Nepalese group, which later came back down.
Wilson says being from Nome really helped prepare them for the climb.
"One of the biggest parts was really knowing how to deal with the cold, because it was real cold up there, and we're from a place without trees and it's always windy and -20º, so it was just a really good thing to know how to deal with the cold."
Wilson says he trained for the climb by putting weights in a backpack and used the stair-stepper at a local gym.
The brothers climbed Denali's West Buttress Route and finished in 15 days.
There are currently 369 climbers on the mountain, with nine at nearby Mt. Foraker, according to the NPS online dispatch report.
The brothers say the challenge was definitely worth it, but they haven't thought about what's next.
"All we have on our mind right now really is Costco pizza," Oliver said.
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