<p>FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Monty Smith hopes to take remote banking to new heights. If successful, the 40-year-old Smith will conduct a remote transaction with First Tech Credit Union in Beaverton, Ore., from the 20,320-foot summit of Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska. Smith, who has been mountain climbing for about 20 years, will be part of a four-man expedition that will attempt to scale the mountain – twice following different routes – beginning May 8. It will be the first time he and the other members of the Mazamas climbing club have climbed Denali. At the summit, Smith, a member of First Tech’s supervisory committee, will attempt a remote transaction using a new Motorola cell phone equipped with flash memory product from Intel, where he is employed as marketing manager for new businesses. The flash product is code-named Denali. Both Intel and First Tech are sponsoring the climb in the Denali National Park and Preserve. Smith noted that First Tech was an early leader in telephone-based banking and then later a leader in on-line based transactions. The credit union serves more than 80,000 members in the high tech and telecommunications industry. First Tech boasts it has the highest percentage of online banking usage in the world, with 62% of its members using online banking compared to a national average of 17.9%. “One of the things they’ve been stressing for a long time is their remote banking capabilities,” Smith said, adding that the Denali transaction would add further clout to the credit union’s message. With Denali located between Anchorage and Fairbanks and within line of sight between the two cities, cell phone reception should work high up on the mountain and the funds transfer should be successful, Smith said. Anchorage is about 240 miles south of Denali; Fairbanks is about 125 miles to the north. “I’ve checked with a number of people and everyone says that starting at the 14,000 foot basin on up you get really good reception,” Smith said. “We feel confident about this climb and performing an on-line banking transaction from the top of North America.” The expedition, which is scheduled to depart Oregon on April 30, is planned for 30 days. He said a typical climb could be done in as little as 21 days, although 25 days was more common because of having to deal with the vagaries of weather on the mountain. “You almost always get socked in by a storm,” Smith said. “Those storms can be nasty, with 100 mile per hour winds and temperatures of 40 below. You really build your camp to withstand that or you build something like a snow cave and stay in there.” The team will fly in to a glacier at 7,200 feet and establish a base camp. It will then slowly move up the mountain, establishing five additional camps as it moves to the 17,000-foot level. It will then attempt to reach the summit from there. The first ascent will follow the West Buttress route, which is the easiest and most commonly climbed area of the mountain, Smith said. About 85 percent of those climbing Denali follow that route. “It is not considered extremely technical,” he said. The second more difficult route is known as the Messner Couloir. “Messner Couloir is a much more difficult route,” Smith noted. “It’s about 5,000 feet of 50 degree snow and ice. It basically goes from one of the lower camps straight to the summit. Let’s just say it’s definitely the direct route.” Smith will be carrying about 75 pounds of gear on each ascent. To deal with the cold weather – “from about 14,000 feet, if it gets above 10 degrees it will be a pretty warm day,” he says – Smith will be outfitted with down-filled pants, parka and mittens, a full face mask and special expedition boots with special neoprene overboots for an added layer of insulation. “We’re anticipating roughly around zero degrees most of the time going all the way to 20,000 feet,” he said of the weather. “After 20,000 feet we expect it will be significantly below zero. “It’s going to be cold as hell,” he said with a laugh. He noted that on the lower glaciers, the temperature could reach into the 70s on a bright sunny day. “But the second the sun goes behind a ridge, the temperature will drop 50 degrees in five minutes,” he said. All four members of the climbing team will be roped together for safety the entire time they are on the mountain, not just when they are climbing. “There is probably about 10 to 12 miles on the glaciers that we have to travel to get to the area where we’re doing a lot of vertical climbing,” Smith said. “The problem with that area is it is known for its crevasses. There’s a high probability one of us will fall into a crevasse, which is why we’re always going to be on a rope and we’re all going to have the standard gear like ice axes and all of the gear to pull somebody back out of the crevasse. That’s why you have four people on a rope; if one goes in, there are three people who are holding him up.” Smith said although the air would be thin at the summit – only about 40 percent of the amount of oxygen at sea level – additional oxygen supplies were usually not required for climbs below 25,000 feet. Despite the challenges, Smith said he is excited about the climb. “I am really looking forward to doing this,” he said. Last year, a record number of people (1,305) attempted to climb Denali with 772 reaching the summit, according to the National Park Service. The oldest person to reach the summit was 71-year-old Donald Henry, who accomplished the feat in 1988, the Park Service reported. The youngest was 11-year-old Galen Johnston in 2001. That same year, Toshiko Uchida became the oldest woman to reach the summit. She was 70. In 1993, Joan Phelps made history by completing the first blind ascent of Denali. The mountain is increasing known by its native name of Denali, which according to the Athabaskan language means “the high one” or “the great one.” The area was established in 1917 as Mt. McKinley National Park. In 1980, the original park was designated a wilderness area and incorporated into the Denali National Park and Preserve. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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