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IMG Denali West Buttress Expedition

You asked, and now it’s time for us to deliver. IMG Denali, LLC is the newest Denali guide service. We were awarded a ten-year concession contract by Denali National Park and Preserve in July of 2018. What does all this mean? Well, with great excitement and anticipation, IMGD will be organizing four trips on the Great One via the West Buttress Route this coming 2019 climbing season. International Mountain Guides, LLC is the exclusive booking agent for IMGD and we are ready to start climbing Denali! Lace up your boots and pack your duffels because it’s time to head up north. At 20,310′, Denali is simply the tallest mountain in North America and one of the most coveted of the fabled Seven Summits.

IMG Denali’s owners and guides have been climbing Denali since the early 1970’s. In fact, they were some of the first to guide on Denali and have 57 successful ascents of Denali between themselves. That’s an experience base which is hard to match. All IMG Denali expeditions will be structured at a 2:1 client to guide ratio. Our 3-week expedition is limited to 8 climbers led by 4 guides resulting in a more personal experience with your guides.

With only four expeditions scheduled for the 2019 climbing season, you can be assured that you won’t be just another number among many. Constant, personal contact throughout the planning stages will be yet another reason to climb with IMG Denali. We have based IMG Denali on the philosophy that personal touch and attention to detail is very important in creating a successful expedition, especially one as serious as Denali, and that is what you’ll receive.

We had climbed roped, simultaneously, front-pointing forever into a revived storm and relentless wind. Everything was cold, even our souls. Frostbite was waiting to jump at the slightest sign of weakness, but both of us played our own winning game with it. McKinley’s climate is tough. We were drawing heavily on all our Himalayan experience just to survive, and it was a respectful pair that finally stood on the summit ridge…

~Dougal Haston on his 1976 climb with Doug Scott “American Alpine Journal”, 1977
Day Itinerary
Day 01 Fly to Anchorage. Group will meet at 2 p.m. at the Anchorage airport Alaska Airlines baggage carousel and will be transported to Talkeetna. We will stop along the drive to pick up last-minute perishable snack items. Group will spend the night in Talkeetna. IMG will arrange the shuttle pickup and the group lodging in Talkeetna.
Day 02 Day in Talkeetna. We will meet with the NPS for a briefing, go over each individual’s personal equipment, familiarize ourselves with the group equipment and divide it and get packed for the trip. Second night in Talkeetna.
Day 03 Our scheduled “Expedition Departure Date.” Bush pilot will fly us in to Base Camp on the SE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200 feet, a 45 minute flight. It is possible to move this day, or we may sit and wait until the cooler temperatures of evening.
Day 04 Load sleds and drag them several miles on the low-angle Kahiltna Glacier to Camp 1 at 8,000′.
Day 05 Continue dragging sleds and all equipment up “Ski Hill” to Camp 2 at 9,500′. Camp is just below Kahiltna Pass.
Day 06 As group energy permits, we will move up to Camp 3 at 11,000′ or do a carry of gear.
Day 07 Likely time for first rest day.
Day 08 Carry extra gear to 13,500′ up around “Windy Corner.” Sleds go no higher than 14,000′, and are light above 11,000′ if used at all. Return to Camp 3.
Day 09 Move up to Camp 4 at 14,000′. This is the location of the manned ranger post with medical supplies.
Day 10 Drop down to 13,500′ to pick up cache. Second night at 14,000′.
Day 11 Possible rest day, third night at 14,000′.
Day 12 Carry one weeks supply of food and fuel to high camp at 17,200′. Return to 14,000′ for fourth night.
Day 13 Fifth and final acclimatization day if needed at 14,000′.
Day 14 Group moves to high camp at 17,200′.
Day 15 Possible rest day at high camp or first summit option.
Day 16 Likely summit day.
Day 17 Descend to 11,000′, Camp 3.
Day 18 Descend to Base with pickup by our bush pilot if we are lucky.
Day 19 Likely pickup by bush pilot. Return to Talkeetna with option of spending night in Talkeetna or return to Anchorage.

This itinerary is approximate. Our rate of ascent will be dictated by the weather, the strength of the group, and our rate of acclimatization. All climbing decisions will be made by the guides, with the best interest of the group as a whole in mind. There will be a cache of food at Base Camp and we will carry 20 days of food with supplements to stretch it to 25 days if necessary. Allow an average of 21 total days for the entire trip, but be flexible enough to extend the trip another 4 or more days if necessary. A perfect weather expedition can take 15 days on the mountain. Average time is perhaps 18 days, and 22-25 days is not unusual.

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