Snowstorm slows Fort Worth firefighters near Alaskan peak

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by MEAGAN HARRIS

WFAA

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 7 at 9:42 PM

After 12 hours of high winds and heavy snow, the six Fort Worth firefighters climbing Alaska's Mount McKinley say they are ready to go for the summit. The group reached "high camp" at the 17,000-foot level on Sunday.

Firefighter Matt Magoffin called News 8 Monday afternoon after the group spent 12 hours huddled in their tents while riding out a bitter snowstorm.

He laughed when asked if he was miserable, saying “It’s what we signed up for."

At high camp, their tents are protected by a wall built of stacked blocks of snow, something they did after arriving. Hurricane force winds aren’t uncommon at this altitude.

The group is now hoping for an 8-to-10-hour window of good weather so they can climb the remainder of the way to the summit.

The summit’s ridge has an elevation just over 20,000 feet; it’s the highest mountain peak in North America.

Magoffin said the group is "feeling really good ... just a bit of a headache." Shortness of breath and headaches are normal at that altitude.

The group is about one day ahead of schedule. Magoffin said they could begin the trek to the top as early as Monday night, depending on the weather.

“Right now, we’re just hoping for our next good weather window,” he said, adding: “Once we figure that out, we’re going to make a shot for the summit.”

The group is climbing to bring awareness to the non-profit Sons of the Flag Foundation for Burn Survivors. The group carried with them letters from some of those burn victims.

They plan to fly the Sons of the Flag flag once on the summit's ridge.

E-mail mharris@wfaa.com

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