There are certain mountains that need no explanation as to “Why Climb.” Denali is such a mountain. Its tremendous size and beauty generate a magnetism that continually draws climbers from around the world. An ascent of Denali touches the psyche of all alpinists, and for those who have undertaken its challenges, it rewards them with an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Alpine Ascents has been running successful Denali expeditions for nearly 20 years. Our 2018 season was a great success with 9 teams reaching the summit. Both early and late season saw good weather giving most of our teams the chance to summit. Denali saw some harsh weather early in the 2017 season, yet we were one of the few teams to see summit success. As the weather cleared, our success rates turned to expected levels with nearly all climbers of the final three teams reaching the summit. With an 86% summit success rate, 2016 was a banner year in terms of overall climber success. We attribute this to the quality of our guide staff, logistics, and climber training and screening. In 2015, we also saw outstanding success with 9 of 11 teams reaching the summit. We look forward to having similar success in 2019 and — as always — we are happy to put you in touch with former climbers. We are committed to keeping up our high standards for food and logistics, and we look forward to the 2019 season.
Our Denali climb was recommended by Lonely Planet, 2017.
Alpine Ascents offers small group sizes of either nine climbers and three guides or six climbers and two guides. We can also arrange private trips for smaller group sizes. Please note: it is imperative for groups of any size that all climbers be in excellent physical condition and well-trained in the necessary climbing skills to ascend Denali. Please see our Denali screening page.
Alpine Ascents has climbing concessions on both Denali and Mt. Rainier, and we offer training courses in both locations. These mountaineering courses are an excellent way to make sure your climbing skills and physical conditioning meet the necessary requirements to attempt Denali. Alpine Ascents has very high prerequisites for our Denali climbers because we know your climb will be more enjoyable, safer, and have a greater chance of success if all members are well-prepared for the rigors of Denali.
Please contact us with any questions. Our Denali climbs fill early every season.
Denali requires proficiency in basic mountaineering skills, including: expedition camping skills, cramponing, walking on snow, self-arrest, crevasse rescue, and glacier travel on a rope team. Gaining these skills generally requires, at a minimum, completion of our Denali Prep Course (this course is best for climbers with some prior experience, as early season conditions can prove difficult for learning basic skills); or our 6-Day, 8-Day, 9-Day, 10-Day, 12-Day, or 13-Day training course; or have equivalent skills and experience. It is our goal to have similarly skilled climbers on our expeditions and we have thorough Denali screening guidelines. Read More
While a select few climbers were able to successfully join a Denali trip after a single course, the vast majority will greatly benefit from more climbing experience. We work with and assess each climber on an individual basis. Please contact Gordon Janow at [email protected] to discuss preparing for Denali or to share your climbing bio.
Upon sign up, we will send you our richly detailed, pre-trip Climber Information Package.
Travel to Anchorage and arrive by 4:30 p.m. Climbers must make their own arrangements with a shuttle service and book lodging at the Talkeetna Denali View Lodge near Talkeetna. Please see the Climber Information Package for details.
Meet at the Alpine Ascents Office at 8 a.m. (we will transport climbers from our selected hotel to our offices). After introductions, orientation, and final gear check, we will board a ski-equipped aircraft and fly to Base Camp on the S.E. Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier (7,300 ft.). The flight to Base Camp is marvelous, presenting outstanding views of a variety of peaks including Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, and the Moose’s Tooth. Upon arrival, the group prepares our Base Camp. (Note: Guides may perform a glacier travel review on this day.)
Glacier travel review. We’ll carry gear to our intermediary camp (approximately halfway to the traditional Camp I). This gives us a chance to get an easy start and let you sort out any adjustments in gear and sled-pulling setup. This is important, as we will be pulling sleds for the next eight days.
Carry loads to Camp I (7,800 ft.). Snowshoes may be necessary between camps on the lower part of the mountain.
Carry loads to cache between 9,800 and 10,000 ft. (Camp II) and return to Camp I. The route this day ascents a slope called “Ski Hill,” which flattens out as we approach Camp II.
Our carry today depends on snow/weather conditions and how the group is feeling. We’ll either ascend back to our cache and camp for the night or continue on to 11,200 ft. (Camp III.) Camp III is located in a small cirque at the base of Motorcycle Hill.
We’ll carry all our gear to Camp III.
We’ll carry half our gear up Motorcycle and Squirrel Hill and then traverse a long gradually rising plateau to Windy Corner. We’ll continue on around this narrow corner for a few hundred yards to make a cache (at approximately 13,500 ft.) and return to Camp III. This day provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and the northeast fork of Kahiltna Glacier, 4,000 feet below.
Move to Camp IV (14,200 ft.).
Descend to our cache at 13,500 ft. and carry to Camp IV. This is an easy day as we’ll descend 700 ft., pick up our gear, and return to Camp IV.
We’ll carry loads to 16,500 ft. and return to Camp IV. We’ll ascend 1,100 ft. of moderate snow slopes to reach the beginning of the fixed lines. Using ascenders on the lines to self-belay, we’ll climb the Headwall, which consists of 900 feet of 45–50 degree snow and ice up to the crest of the West Buttress. From there, the climb takes on an entirely different nature with views that fall off in both directions several thousand feet below us.
Rest Day at Camp IV.
Carry and move to High Camp (Camp V, 17,200 ft.). We’ll again ascend the fixed lines and follow the exposed ridge 600 feet up around Washburn’s Tower, and on to Camp IV, which we establish on a saddle just above the Rescue Gully. It overlooks Camp IV 3,000 feet below.
Rest day. Rest and prepare for the summit attempt.
Summit day. We traverse across a steep snow face to Denali Pass. From here, we’ll follow gentler slopes to reach Archdeacons Tower and a large plateau at 19,400 ft., known as the “football field.” From the plateau, we’ll ascend moderate terrain to the crest of the summit ridge, where we’ll look down upon the immense 8,000 ft. South Face, with Cassin Ridge and the South Buttress in full view. Once on the summit ridge, excitement grows as we’ll climb the last 300 feet to the top of North America. From the summit, we’ll have a 360 degree view of the entire Alaska Range, with Mt. Hunter and Mt. Huntington to the south and Mt. Foraker to the west. These peaks, along with scores of others, make this mountain view one of the most impressive in the world. After taking photos, we’ll descend to our High Camp.
Return to Base Camp. From High Camp, we spend two days returning to Base Camp, where we will board a plane and return to Talkeetna.
Extra days, for inclement weather, rest and acclimatization as needed.
Please plan to depart from Anchorage the day after your climb ends after 1:30 p.m.
Note: Due to the nature of climbing Denali, there may be delays/accelerations due to weather and guide decision-making. It is important to keep schedules slightly flexible, as we will take extra days or combine days if necessary to give everyone the best possible chance of success. A detailed logistics package will be forwarded to each team member upon receipt of application. Our staff will work closely with all Denali climbers.
Alpine Ascents is an authorized concessioner of Denali National Park and Preserve.