Ptarmigan Tracks

The Newsletter of Camp Denali,
North Face Lodge & Parkside Guest House

Online Version 2019

2019 Project Roundup

In 1981, Camp Denali made its first foray into alternative energy with a small Pelton wheel hydroelectric system. Steadily warming summers, however, have caused the flow rate of our water source on the hillside above Camp to decrease, rendering the system unusable. This past season, we completed the first big step in the installation of a large photovoltaic panel array. 288 sun-tracking photovoltaic panels rated at 315 watts each, totaling a potential output of 90 kW, will supply nearly 100% of Camp Denali's energy.

To complement our on-site power generation, 18,000 pounds of nickel-iron batteries sit here at our winter office on pallets, awaiting the opening of the park road this spring. This tried-and-true battery technology can withstand being left dormant for seven months each year when winter temperatures may drop to minus 60°F. They're resilient, have a projected 30-year lifespan and can be drawn down to within 20% of their storage capacity, but they're heavy - 150 pounds each. Our first task this spring will be to retrofit our energy building to accommodate the weight and volume of batteries, inverters, and charge controllers.

On another front, the cooks and bakers in Potlatch kitchen won a long-held lobbying campaign when "Christopher Walken," Camp's newest piece of coveted restaurant equipment, a walk-in refrigerator, finally came online August 1st.

Camp Denali founder Ginny Wood once recounted, "[Camp Denali] wasn't the staff's or the management's, it was our camp together that we were building. A lot of the camp [...] was an extension of the staff - a little bit of everybody that worked there became a part of the camp." This tradition lived on this summer with the construction of a new guest cabin, Serac, which hosted its first tenants on August 8th.

Former staff may know Serac as staff tent-frame quarters. That Serac is now Red Top, named both for the nearby 1930s-era antimony mine and cleverly honoring Serac's long-time resident, Brian McCormick, or "Red," as he is fondly known to many Camp staff.


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