Denali summit eludes Fort Worth firefighters

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WFAA

Posted on July 12, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 13 at 10:10 AM

After five days near the top of North America's tallest mountain, six Fort Worth firefighters and their guides are making their way back to base camp.

They reached their "high camp" on Alaska's Mount McKinley last Sunday, but efforts to reach the 20,000-foot summit, also known as Denali, were stymied by heavy snow and high winds.

Fears of an avalanche kept them from climbing the final 3,000 feet to the peak.

"Disappointing news," said firefighter Matt Magoffin in a satellite phone call to News 8. "We spent five sleepless nights at high camp at 17,000 feet waiting for a weather window that never came."

"We had relentless winds, 40 to 60 mph gusts, snows and avalanche danger," he said. "The avalanche danger just got worse and worse."

He said the team decided that when the weather finally cleared Friday, they would use it as an opportunity to climb down... not up.

"It was an amazing day," Magoffin said.

The firefighters' effort is bringing awarness to the non-profit Sons of the Flag Foundation for Burn Survivors.

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