Dates: May 6 - 27, 2014
Price: USD$ 7200 (based on minimum 5 members)
Guides: Stu Remensnyder, Matt Schonwald and Pablo Puruncajas
Positions Open: 6 per trip
2 nights lodging in Anchorage or Talkeetna, scheduled group transportation between Anchorage and Talkeetna, and all food while on the mountain.
Airfare to Anchorage, AK, lodging in Talkeetna, meals in town, lunch food, climbing permit fees ($200 for 2011), personal climbing equipment.
Denali, aka 'the Great One,' is the classic mountaineering objective in North America and one of the great trips of a lifetime. Many try the West Buttress first pioneered in 1950 by the interminable Bradford Washburn, due to its relative ease of access with Air Taxis and low technical difficulties. We believe our route choice defines the style in which we travel and we chose to climb the Upper West Rib. This gives us a great opportunity to acclimatize then experience a more technical finish on less travelled route on our way to the summit.
We begin our climb on the West Buttress route at 7,200 feet on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. It follows the Kahiltna north before ascending onto the Upper West Rib above the 14,000 camp. Climbers will use a variety of mountaineering techniques to make their way around crevasses and up steep terrain. The route culminates on summit day by following an incredible snow climb with the South Face in view to the highest point in North America.
Denali facilitates many firsts. Carrying the heaviest pack of your life in the thin air of altitude at such high latitudes, extreme winds, heavy snowfall and arctic cold remind us it a serious undertaking. Aspiring climbers mustprepare to suffer with a smile.
DAY 1: Team meeting and prep day in Anchorage. We recommend staying at the Earth B&B for a good location, reasonable cost and great food!
DAY 2: We head to Talkeetna and hope to fly to the glacier that afternoon. If we arrive in time we'll put in a bunch of hours going over crevasse rescue and glacier travel and settle in for our first night on snow.
DAY 3: We'll use the morning to finish any training we need to do to feel confident in heading out onto the glacier. When we are ready to go we'll de we'll enter the park officially, descend Heartbreak Hill and head out onto the immense Kahiltna glacier. We'll struggle with our sleds a bunch this day and after about 5 miles arrive at our 7,800ft camp located at the foot of our first steeper slope. If need be we can make a supply cache and bring the second day of supplies with us on day 4. We'll likely be hauling and carrying a total of about 110lbs so train hard!
DAY 4: We'll take a load of gear and push it up the hill as close to the 11,000ft camp as we can and return to 7,800ft camp for a big supper. This is a pretty hard day and depending on weather and snow conditions we'll cache our loads between 9,500ft and 11,000ft.
DAY 5: We'll have a big breakfast and then pack up all our gear and head towards 11.200ft camp. If conditions are difficult we may pull up short of 11.200ft camp and finish it off the next morning. This day is a first for really sensing that you are climbing Denali and not just doing glacier travel. At about 10,000ft we turn right at Kahitna pass and enter a narrow valley with an immense and imposing wall on our left. With luck we'll pull into 11,200ft camp and enjoy a fine view of Motorcyle Hill and be treated to a sunset from our first high vantage point.
DAY 6: Today we head back down to grab the gear and food we cached on day 4 and bring it all up to 11,200ft camp. This is an important acclimatization day and we'll take it easy all the way.
DAY 7: We'll enjoy a great day of hard work by hauling loads up Motorcyle Hill and Squirrel Hill and around Windy Corner to leave loads at about 13,500ft. As we turn the corner the upper mountain comes into view and it will catch your breath. The Upper West Rib is largely in view and the seriousness of our endeavor will make itself plain.
DAY 8: We'll pack up and make our way to 14,200ft camp where we will find the best sheltered camp site possible. The awesome circ of Denali is so close you feel you can touch it and the view back towards Foraker are surreal.
DAY 9: With the need for another acclimatization day we'll use the back carry ro brad our cache as a welcome day
DAY 10: Rest day with a walk up the west butt route for acclimatization and fixed line practice.
DAY 11: We'll move gear and supplies up to the West Rib
DAY 12: Good day as well to go over techniques one last time before heading up onto the route. Depending on how members feel we may make a very early day push with no packs to the west buttress route to get as much altitude as we can to help us feel strong. Alternatively we'll take a rest day at 14,200ft camp to hydrate and eat like crazy and regain our strength if needed.
DAY 13: The West Rib climb truly begins as we move our camp to the ridge proper. The camp sites at around 16,300ft are quite exposed and we'll put in a good effort to make sure they are as fortified and protected as possible. Camp sites are around 16,300' and are exposed and serious. We'll need to fortify our tent sites in case the weather takes a turn. This is a really tough day, as our loads are big, the terrain is steep in sections and we need to spend some time to make a safe camp.
DAY 14: Likely we will take a rest day to prepare the first section of the route for an early start the next day.
DAY 15: Summit Day! If the weather, route and member conditions are all good we'll head for the top and hope to be back for supper time! This will be our most demanding climbing and route finding and upon reaching the Football Field we'll join the normal route and head to the summit ridge. With clear weather we'll be treated to one of the world's great panoramic views and a veritable who's who of peaks including Foraker, Huntington, Hunter and Mooses Tooth.
Having reached the top we are only half way done with the day with an exacting and serious descent still remaining. We will likely return by the West Rib but may also consider returning my the West Buttress route.
Day 16 & 17: Descent back to Kahitna which may take 1 immense day or two long days depending on team strength amnd weather conditions. We'll then hope for good weather to fly out as soon as we can for well earned soft beds, steaks and beers.
Day 18: Fly to Talkeetna and return to Anchorage. We'll eat lots for great food and talk about the next trip!
Days 19-22: spare days for weather
please note: FTA is not one of the 6 companies authorized to run trips on Denali and we will be working with one of these companies for the rights to use one of their "ropes". This is standard practice in the industry and you will see that nearly every company who states that they "run" a Denali trip are actually only able to do so by the good graces of one of these 6 companies. Pick a trip with us because you like our style and approach or pick one of the 6 because you like theirs! Here is a link to the list of the "6":
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