The price difference offered refers to the Guide Ratio. The higher priced departures are for trips with a guide to client ratio of 1:2 with a maximum of 6 clients.
At 6194m, Denali is the highest peak in the majestic Alaskan range of North America. Its huge 6000m bulk rises dramatically from the surrounding plains, adding to its Himalayan stature. Due to its very northerly position this is the coldest mountain outside of Antarctica, and so will give rise to the feeling of acclimatising on a 7000m peak. Climbing on Denali offers excellent experience for those wishing to step up to 8000m peaks in the future. In return for this challenge, the surroundings are spectacular and the terrain typical of what you would expect of Alaska; an ethereal land on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
This is an isolated and committing mountain, giving one a sense of real adventure. The expedition is fully guided in conjunction with our authorised Alaskan partners and follows Denali’s West Buttress. This is a popular route, yet still offers a challenging ascent of 40-50 degree snow slopes and an impressive ice headwall. You should be confident on Scottish II snow and ice with experience of crevasse rescue. It is important to book early on these expeditions, normally at least six months in advance.
No Sherpa or porter support is available on these trips. Success is therefore dependent on expedition members having a good level of fitness and the ability to carry reasonable loads each day on the mountain.
Bookable dates are for either a traditional team of 9 clients and 3 guides (the lower priced departures) or for teams of 6 clients and 3 guides (the higher priced departures) giving greater flexibility and support.
Day 1 Travel to Anchorage, arriving same day. Take the
shuttle bus to your hotel.
Day 2 Team Meeting at 10 am for an Expedition orientation
and equipment check.
Day 3 We will drive several hours to Talkeetna, where
everyone will register with the National Park Service.
Weather permitting, we will fly into the Kahiltna Glacier with
the Air Taxi. (If we cannot fly we will assist you in arranging
accommodation for the night which you will need to pay for).
There will be an on-glacier Expedition Orientation that will
cover the following topics: Glacier Travel, Crevasse Rescue,
Sled rigging, Rope Management and Camp Site Procedures.
Establish Base Camp at 2134m.
Day 4 Single Carry supplies to Camp 1 (2368m), near the
junction with the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. This is a
moderate carry of about 9 miles round-trip and is a good
shake-down for the upcoming days. Throughout the
Expedition we will follow the climb high, sleep low
technique, for better acclimatisation, however the altitude
difference between Base Camp and Camp 1 is minimal
enough to permit us to single-carry this stretch. On the late
May and June expeditions, we may be doing our climbing at
night to avoid the excessive heat and soft snow conditions on
the Lower Glacier.
Day 5 Haul loads up to Kahiltna Pass. Several options exist
for camp sites between 2743m & 3353m, depending upon
weather, snow conditions and team strength. This is a
moderately difficult carry; 7-9 miles round-trip, with 2-3,000
feet of elevation gain and a return to Camp 1 for the night.
Day 6 Move everything to Camp 2 – near Kahiltna Pass.
Camp is often in the beautiful 3414m basin at the base of
Day 7 Back-carry day This is an active rest day during which
we drop back down and pick up the cache.
Day 8 Haul loads around Windy Corner (4054m). Steep
snow climbing up Motorcycle Hill rewards you with
spectacular views. Distance is about 4 miles round trip. Sleds
are getting lighter and the air is getting thinner.
Day 9 Move Camp to 4359m. This is usually a long, hard
day. Weather and team strength will determine the placement
of Camp 3 – however the goal is the well equipped 14,200′
camp. Fun climbing with crampons and ice axe gets you
around Windy Corner where the upper Mountain comes into
Day 10 Back-carry day. The team will descend from 14,200′
to the Windy Corner cache and bring everything up to 4359m.
Day 11 Climb up the headwall to the ridge. Cache supplies
and return to 4359m. Climbing up the headwall (fixed line
from 4724m to 4907m) with a heavy pack is one of the most
strenuous days of the trip, because of the steep terrain, heavy
pack and thinning air.
Day 12 Rest day. It is often prudent to take a
rest/acclimatisation day prior to moving up to High Camp.
Day 13 Move to High Camp. Weather and team strength will
again determine this decision. While there is a camp site at
4907m, it is very exposed, so we usually push for the 5243m
site which is more secure and the better choice for Camp.
Day 14 Rest day. Moving to 5243m and getting High Camp
established can be a huge day, so we usually take a rest day
before attempting the summit.
Days 15 to 22 (Summit days) If the weather is favourable,
we’ll push for the summit. However if the weather is not good
it is important to be patient! We will only try for the Summit
when the weather is good, meaning mostly clear and calm.
The round trip climb will take eight to twelve hours or more.
Usually you will depart camp early (7-9 am), climb up to
Denali Pass (5486m) and follow the route past Arch Deacon’s
Tower and the Football Field to the slopes leading to the
Summit Ridge. On this spectacular ridge you can often see
down into the Ruth Glacier and view peaks such as the
Moose’s Tooth, Mt Huntington and more. If the weather is
still good, you will always remember this view!!!
Summit Day is serious. The weather needs to be good and
everyone attempting the summit needs to have demonstrated
that they can safely give it a shot. This is by far the most
gruelling day of the expedition. The guides have the ultimate
decision as to when the team will make a summit bid. The
guides also have the discretion to decide whether a team
member has not shown that he or she is capable to safely
negotiate the Upper Mountain. Such occurrences are rare;
but remember- safety is our primary concern.
Days 23 and 24 (Descent) The descent from High Camp will
take from one to two days, depending on the team’s strength
and motivation to get home. Weather dictates when we will
fly out to Talkeetna for food and showers. Not much beats a
steak and salad at the West Rib Tavern after working hard on
Day 25 Return to Anchorage. As there is the potential for the
trip to finish early the accommodation at the end of the trip is
not included in the price as it is not known where you will
stay. The in country agent will help with sorting
accommodation for you on your return from the mountain.
Days 26 and 27 Return international flight.