Climb Denali’s West Buttress, West Rib

Overview

Climb Denali’s West Buttress, West Rib or another coveted route with Wild Alpine’s Lead Guide Eli Potter. Proud as we are of our home turf – the Wrangell and Saint Elias Ranges – we hold a candle to the Alaska Range and especially to the tallest of North America’s peaks, 20,320 foot (6194m) Denali, aka Mount McKinley or The Great One.

Availability
April – July 2014 
Duration
Begins In
Anchorage 
Ends In
Anchorage 
Transportation
Shuttle and Bush Plane 
Max Group Size
9 climbers : 3 – 4 guides 
Elevation Gain
16,120 ft 
Climbing Time
14 – 22 Days 
Priced From
$5,800 
Trip Includes
Unlimited access to office resources prior to your trip; 2 nights lodging in Anchorage before your climb; scheduled round trip group transportation between Anchorage and Talkeetna; round trip flights between Talkeetna and Base Camp; group gear; all food while on the mountain; custom expedition dispatch for your trip 
Not Included
Flight to and from Anchorage; food while you're not on the mountain; personal climbing gear and clothing (per our gear list); travel insurance; costs incurred due to evacuation or unplanned departure from the mountain; additional tours while in Alaska; costs as a result of force majuere; costs beyond the control of Wild Alpine and Mountain Trip; customary guide gratuities 
climb denali with wild alpine

Navigating crevasse fields on the West Rib.

Which Route?

The classic route up Denali is the West Buttress. This iconic route is technically modest, but physically and mentally challenging. Many Denali climbers find this to be the most challenging thing they have done in the mountains.

Climbers looking for more of a wilderness experience might consider joining our early season West Buttress Wilderness Climb. The rewards of being literally the only team on the mountain are hard to put into words. This is a colder, more serious undertaking than a mid-season Denali climb and conditions need to be perfect for a summit bid.

Traverse climbs ascend the West Buttress and descend to the north via the Muldrow Glacier route. These expeditions are endurance events, and last at least several days longer than a “typical” West Buttress ascent. The descent out to the north is serious and challenging, with steeper terrain than anything encountered on the West Buttress. The Harper and Muldrow Glaciers are much more crevassed than anything on the West Buttress, and present route finding and glacier travel challenges.

climb denali with wild alpine

Exposed line on the West Rib.

Experienced climbers seeking more technical routes on steeper and varied terrain might consider the West Rib, the Northwest Buttress or the aesthetic Cassin Ridge. The Sourdough Expedition is extremely challenging and accesses the north side of Denali via dogsled in early April to climb the Muldrow Glacier route. 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Denali’s North Summit via this route. We also climb the Muldrow later in the season and descend the Buttress for a Reverse Traverse.

Choose Wild Alpine
Why Wild Alpine? Our guided expeditions on Denali are yours thanks to a strong partnership with the renowned experts at Mountain Trip, an authorized concessionaire of Denali National Park and Preserve. Collectively, Wild Alpine and Mountain Trip have more than 40 years plus one unique spin backing us up: Wild Alpine’s Founder and Lead Guide, Eli Potter.
eli potter climbing guide on denali with wild alpine

“Eli Potter – Well what can I say… He’s definitely one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever met on a mountain. He’s a technically brilliant guide, knows all the Alaskan mountains like the back of his hand, understands the weather patterns, looks very well after his clients and fellow climbers and can whip up the most awesome food on an expedition!

“What gives him the advantage is that he’s a real Alaskan boy that lives and breathes what everyone dreams of. You can talk to him about anything: flying bush planes, hunting, rafting, photography, harvesting big timber with a chainsaw, building cabins, 4×4 trucks, bears and politics. He can tell epic adventure tales.

“On a Denali trip with Eli you get the full value experience because he’s a local. He’s got a great sense of humor and is a keen beer drinker after a 21-day trip on Denali! Would I climb with him again? YES, definitely!”
– Alex R-G (SOUTH AFRICA)

climb Denali with wild alpine

2011 team at 14k camp.

Itinerary

The West Buttress of Denali is the classic mountaineering objective in North America. First pioneered in 1950 by the indefatigable Bradford Washburn, it has become the route of choice for most Denali climbers today due to its relative ease of access in this modern age of air taxis. The following itinerary outlines this climb; contact us for information about other routes.

The West Buttress route begins at 7,200 feet on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. It follows the Kahiltna north before ascending up onto the West Buttress proper. Though technically not very difficult, climbers will use a variety of mountaineering techniques to make their way around crevasses and up moderately steep terrain. The route culminates on summit day by following an incredible knife edged ridge to the highest point in North America.

Denali is a big, serious mountain with big mountain weather, geography and acclimatization issues. The following itinerary represents a very basic outline of what could happen on a given day during the course of a Denali expedition. Many factors can, and probably will, contribute to cause the following schedule to change. Our guides know the mountain and may elect to stray from this itinerary in order to give you the best possible shot at getting to the summit.

DAY 1: MEETING DAY IN ANCHORAGE Our team meeting takes place at 10 A.M. for an expedition orientation and equipment check. This is a very important mandatory meeting! Be sure to arrive in Anchorage early enough to make the meeting, which may require arriving a day early. Included in our expedition fees are two nights lodging before the expedition at the Earth B&B, which is conveniently located near downtown Anchorage. We also provide transportation within Anchorage to pick up last minute items on the day of our team meeting.

DAY 2: TRAVEL TO TALKEETNA AND FLY TO THE GLACIER Mountain Trip provides our own shuttle service for team members to travel the several hours to Talkeetna. Everyone will need to register with the National Park Service prior to flying to the glacier. Weather permitting, we will fly into the Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200 feet that afternoon. Once on the glacier, everyone will need to pitch in to get Base Camp established so we can proceed with our on-glacier expedition orientation that will cover the following topics: glacier travel, crevasse rescue, sled rigging, rope management and camp site procedures.

DAY 3: SINGLE CARRY TO 7,800′ CAMP Departing base camp, we’ll drop down the infamous Heartbreak Hill and onto the broad Kahiltna glacier. Our goal will be to move camp to about 7,800 feet, near the junction with the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. This is a moderately tough day of about 9 miles round-trip and is a good shake-down for the upcoming days. Depending on the team and weather we may or may not carry loads and return to Base Camp. Throughout the expedition we will typically follow the “climb high, sleep low” technique for better acclimatization, however the altitude difference between Base Camp and 7,800′ Camp is minimal enough to permit us to generally “single-carry” this stretch. On the late May and June expeditions, we may climb early in the morning to avoid the excessive heat and soft snow conditions on the Lower Glacier.

DAY 4: HAUL LOADS UP TO KAHILTNA PASS We’ll head out of 7,800′ Camp and carry loads up the 1,800′ Ski Hill. Several options exist for camp sites between 9,000 & 11,000 feet, depending upon weather, snow conditions and team strength. This is a moderately difficult carry of 7-9 miles round-trip, with 2-3,000 feet of elevation gain and a return to 7,800′ Camp for the night.

DAY 5: MOVE EVERYTHING TO 11,200′ CAMP Our second camp is often in the 11,200’ basin at the base of Motorcycle Hill. This is an incredibly beautiful camp that basks in alpenglow when the sun travels around the north side of the mountain.

DAY 6: BACK-CARRY DAY This is an “active rest day” during which we drop back down and pick up the cache we left down near Kahiltna Pass. It also helps give us another day to acclimatize before moving higher.

DAY 7: HAUL LOADS AROUND WINDY CORNER (13,300 FEET) Steep snow climbing up the 1,000′ high Motorcycle Hill rewards you with spectacular views. The total distance for the day is about 4 miles round trip with a little over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Fun climbing with crampons and ice axe gets you around Windy Corner where the upper mountain comes into view; have your camera ready!

DAY 8: MOVE CAMP TO 14,200 FEET This is usually a long, hard day. Our next camp is generally located at the well equipped 14,200’ camp in the expansive Genet Basin. Loads are getting lighter and the air is getting thinner. Hopefully everyone will have enough energy left to help get camp in as we need to fortify this camp due to the possibility for fairly severe weather.

DAY 9: BACK-CARRY DAY This is another “active rest day,” during which the team will descend from Genet Basin to the Windy Corner cache and bring everything up to 14,200 feet. We’ll spend the afternoon going over climbing techniques that we will use in the upcoming days.

DAY 10: CLIMB UP THE HEADWALL TO THE RIDGE Our goal is to cache supplies up on the ridge above us and return to 14,200 feet. Climbing up the Headwall (the section of route with fixed lines running from 15,500 to 16,100 feet) with a heavy pack is one of the more strenuous days of the trip because of the steep terrain, heavy pack and thinning air. The views from the ridge can be as breath taking as the rarefied air!

DAY 11: REST DAY It is often prudent to take a rest/acclimatization day prior to moving up to High Camp.

DAY 12: MOVE TO HIGH CAMP Weather and team strength will again determine this decision. While there is a camp site at 16,100′, it is very exposed, so we usually push for the 17,200′ site which is more secure and the better choice for camp. This is a really tough day, as our loads are big and the terrain is steep in sections. Rewards for our work are in the great climbing along the ridge. Weaving in and out of the rocks and occasionally walking a knife-edge combine with big exposure to create one of the most memorable parts of the route.

DAY 13: REST DAY Moving to 17,200’ and getting High Camp established can be a huge day, so we usually take a Rest Day before attempting the summit.

DAY 14: SUMMIT DAY If the weather is favorable, we’ll push for the summit. However if the weather is not good we will not go. It is important to be patient! We will only try for the summit when the weather is good, meaning mostly clear and calm. Our guides are the most experienced on the mountain and will make this sometimes difficult decision. The round trip climb will take eight to twelve hours or more. Usually you will depart camp early (7-9 a.m.), climb up to Denali Pass (18,000’) 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 with views of beautiful peaks such as Moose’s Tooth, Mt. Huntington and Mt. Hunter.

***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 often the most grueling day of the expedition (some climbers say of their lives!). The guides have the ultimate decision as to when the team will make a summit bid. The guides also have the discretion to decide that a team member has not shown that he or she is capable to safely make a summit bid. Such occurrences are rare; but remember – your safety is our primary concern.

DAYS 16-17: DESCENT The descent from High Camp takes one or two days, depending on the team’s strength and motivation to get home. The descent can beat you up more than the ascent, as we often have the heaviest loads of the trip as we go down from High Camp to Camp 2. Weather dictates when we can fly out to Talkeetna for food and showers. Not much beats a steak and salad at the West Rib Tavern after working hard on Denali!

DAYS 18-21 CONTINGENCY DAYS We build five “contingency days” into our schedule. Denali has a well-deserved reputation for arctic weather and it is common to take weather days at some point on the mountain.

DAY 22: RETURN TO ANCHORAGE We will provide group transportation back to Anchorage and assist in making any necessary lodging reservations, however any lodging after the climb is your responsibility. This is a true transition day from the intensity of the mountain to the relative big city life of Anchorage.

 

About the Area

FAQs

Resources

Denali Gear List

The following Denali Gear List includes required gear for climbing the West Buttress, West Rib and other buy kamagra jelly in uk routes. Many of the items on the list need to fit you well in order for you to fully enjoy your experience on the onlinepharmacy-levitra.com mountain. Please plan ahead with equipment purchased for your trip so you can be certain that your gear fits you well. The Kahiltna Glacier is not the place to discover that your pack is too small for your torso, or that your boots give you blisters. Recommended items reflect the opinions of our guides, but they may not necessarily fit you. They are also weighted toward a couple companies that are industry leaders in exhibiting environmental and social consciousness. We frequently update our equipment list to keep it as current as possible. Please click HERE for the latest version.

Click on each item name for specific recommendations; call or email us with any gear questions. We want you to be as prepared as possible for your expedition.

Items with ** are optional, but recommended.

FOOTWEAR

Mountaineering Boots Acceptable boots for Denali fall into two categories, traditional double boots and triple boot systems with integrated gaiters. Either variety works well, however the latter versions are lighter and arguably simpler. The goal is to have warm, comfortable feet. Try on a variety of boots as they all fit differently and get the one that fits well. Consider your future mountaineering objectives when purchasing boots as well.

Recommended Triple Boots: La Sportiva OLYMPUS MONS EVO, Boreal G1 Expedition, Scarpa PHANTOM 8000 or Lowa 8000 GTX

Recommended Double Boots: La Sportiva BARUNTSE, or SPANTIK, Boreal G1 Lite or the Scarpa “INVERNO” with High Altitude Liners or aftermarket liners. A great upgrade to any plastic boot are the Denali Liners by Intuition. These are lighter and warmer than almost any stock liners. They are heat molded to fit your feet and are worth every penny. *** All double boots need Overboots and Gaiters, including cheap generic ed advanced set the Spantiks

OVERBOOTS: Neoprene overboots such as 40 Below Purple Haze are best. O.R. and Wild Country insulated Overboots work well if they fit with your crampons. Supergaiters alone are not warm enough cialis generic for Denali.

GAITERS: Full height, such as Black Diamond GTX Frontpoint Gaiter or Outdoor Research “Crocodiles.” Full coverage “Supergaiters” work great as well. *** Do you really need gaiters? Check with us about this guide tip!

BOOTIES**: Synthetic or down fill booties. These are great for camp and tent comfort and allow you extra opportunity to dry out your mountain boots.

GLACIER TRAVEL

SNOWSHOES: Atlas Summit Series or the basic MSR Denali both work well, although a nice “upgrade” feature is a heel riser, which really helps make the steeper hills a bit more manageable. 22-25 inch snowshoes will generally work fine.

SKI POLES: Adjustable poles work best and are easier to travel with, as they fit better in your duffle bag. Black Diamond Flick Lock poles are recommended as they are less prone to spontaneously collapsing. The small, “trekking” baskets on some poles are not large enough for use on soft snow, so make certain your poles have bigger, “snowflake” style baskets.

CLOTHING

You will need a total of five (5) layers for your torso and four (4) for your legs:

 

BASE LAYER: (1 or 2 sets) Synthetic layers work well, such as Capilene 2 or 3 from Patagonia. There are some really nice Merino wool options on the market as well. Patagonia has a very nice entry called Wool 2. Zip-T tops are nice for ventilating.

LIGHT FLEECE: Top and Bottoms made from 100 weight or Powerstretch fleece. Again, a zip t-neck is important for ventilating. Guides’ Pick: Patagonia R1 Flash Top or the R1 Flash Hoody.

STRETCH WOVEN PANTS: We used to consider this layer optional, but this “Soft Shell” layer is becoming indispensible, due to the broad comfort range it provides. Often pants made of Schoeller Dynamic or similar fabrics can be worn all the way to High Camp in lieu of less breathable “hard-shell” pants. Guides’ Pick: Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants

FLEECE OR INSULATED PANTS: This layer must have side zippers! The best options for this layer are thick, “puffy” synthetic or down pants like the Patagonia Micro Puff Pants or Feathered Friends Volant Pants. These can be layered over your shell pants for easier and quicker layer changes.

PRIMALOFT “PUFFY” JACKET: Size this to fit over your shell. We are fans of the puffy, Primaloft jackets because they are lighter and warmer than fleece and compress down much smaller. Guides’ Pick: Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket or the Outdoor Research Chaos Jacket

SHELL JACKET & PANTS: They should be large enough to go over your pile clothing layers and the pants must have full lenght side zippers. These do not need to be the burliest Gore-Tex pieces you can find! Many people are climbing Denali using lightweight, windproof, water resistant shells.

EXPEDITION PARKA (WITH HOOD): Marmot, Mountain Hardwear and The North Face all

viagra for women make good parkas, but our Guides’ Pick is the Patagonia Down Parka. There are some synthetic options such as the Patagonia D.A.S. Parka and the Wild Things Belay Jacket, however; down is recommended as it is lighter and less bulky.

VEST**: Fleece, puffy or down vest adds warmth to a light Expedition Parka. (OPTIONAL)

T-SHIRT**: Synthetic long sleeve shirt for the lower glacier. Synthetics dry faster than cotton! (OPTIONAL)

REGULAR UNDERWEAR: Two or three changes. Look for synthetics such as Patagonia Capilene. Ladies might consider additional changes.

SOCKS: 3 – 5 sets of wool or synthetic medium/heavy weight socks. Make certain your socks fit with your boots!

GLOVES: Light or medium weight fleece, Windstopper or even better: Schoeller fabric (one or two pairs). Guides’ Pick: Outdoor Research Vert Gloves

INSULATED GLOVES: Warm, insulated gloves are the workhorse on Denali. Black Diamond Guide Gloves have removable liners for ease of drying. It’s hard to stress how much you’ll be wearing these, so do not skimp on this item.

SUMMIT MITTENS: Thick, warm, non-constricting mittens made of pile, Primaloft or down. Guides’ Pick: Outdoor Research Alti Mitts. They aren’t cheap, but are extremely warm. Divide the cost by 10 digits and they’re a bargain!

WARM HAT: One warm hat or two hats of different weights. Wool or pile is fine. Your hat must provide ear protection.

FACE MASK: Neoprene or Windstopper work equally well.

SUN HAT: Baseball type or wide brimmed sun hat for the intense sunshine of the lower mountain. You can combine a baseball hat with a bandana for good sun protection

HAND WARMERS: Bring 6+ sets of these disposable insurance policies.

GLACIER GLASSES: They must have side protection and filter 100% UVA and UVB rays.

SKI GOGGLES: For use while traveling during storms or during really cold spells.These must have double lenses and provide 100%UV protection.

PACKS

EXPEDITION PACK: Unfortunately, it is getting harder to find a good expedition-sized back pack. Denali requires a 6000+ generic viagra cu in. or 85+ liter pack to carry your gear, plus group food & equipment. The Mountain Hardwear BMG and the Osprey Aether 85 are our two current favorites. Be sure to spend some time training with your pack so that you know it fits you and you are familiar with how to adjust it.

LARGE ZIPPERED DUFFEL: (90 – 120L) for use female viagra as a sled bag. Lightweight and inexpensive bags work fine, although the Patagonia Black Hole Bag 120L is about the perfect sled bag. It is lightweight and darn near water proof, making it the ideal sled bag!

SLEEPING GEAR

EXPEDITION SLEEPING BAG: Rated to 30 below. Marmot Cwm, Col and Mt Hardwear Ghost are all great bags. Which to choose, down or synthetic? We prefer down bags because they are lighter, more compact, and have a longer lifespan than synthetics, but the new synthetics are getting a lot better. Guides’ Pick: Weighing in at just 4 pounds, the Valandre Odin is a -40 degree bag which is also suitable for Antarctica. It’s lighter companion, the Freja, is a -22 degree bag that only weighs 3 lbs 6 oz!

COMPRESSION STUFF SACK: Granite Gear and Outdoor Research are both making nice, lightweight compression sacks. These are essential for sleeping bags and recommended for your summit clothes, such as your parka, mitts and warmest pants, so you might consider bringing two.

2 SLEEPING PADS: You need two pads, with one being a closed cell pad such as a Ridge Rest or a Karrimat just in case you poke a crampon through your air mattress. Therm-a-Rest inflatable pads have been among the warmest and most comfortable, but the new Exped pads from Outdoor Research are really nice. Guides’ Pick: Exped 7 paired with a Deluxe, Full-length Ridge Rest

TECHNICAL CLIMBING EQUIPMENT

ICE AXE: (with leash) 70-80 cm length works well for the West Buttress and go 10-20 cm shorter for technical climbs. Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Raven Pro

CRAMPONS: 10 or 12 point crampons that FIT YOUR BOOTS! Step in or “New-matic” work equally well, just make sure they fit with your mountain boots and overboots. Fit is especially important with overboots! Black Diamond Guides’ Pick: Sabretooth Clip with ABS

HARNESS: Your harness needs to have adjustable leg loops. Black Diamond Blizzard or Alpine Bod harnesses are both lightweight and functional.

ASCENDERS: You need at least one full-sized ascender such as the Petzl Ascension. This can be paired with a second, handled ascender or with a lighter weight version such as a Petzl Tibloc, a Wild Country Ropeman or simply bring a prussik cord for your feet. If you opt for only one full sized ascender, consider bringing a left-handed one for ease of use on the fixed lines.

CARABINERS: Bring three large locking carabiners and eight regular carabiners. Please do not bring “bent-gate” carabiners. These have certain limitations that do not make them appropriate for how we will use them. Mark them with colored tape for identification. Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond OZ carabiners are very lightweight yet almost full-sized.

PERLON CORD: 50 feet of 5 or 6 mm for sled and pack tie offs.

CLIMBING HELMET: Unfortunately, even Alaska is not beyond the reach of Global Warming and there is now a stretch of the West Buttress route that necessitates the wearing of a climbing helmet. Get the lightest one you can find and make certain it fits over your warmest hat and under the hood of your shell. Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Tracer

ESSENTIAL PERSONAL ITEMS

NOSE GUARDS: Beko makes nice nose protectors that keep the wind and sun from wreaking havoc on your skin.

STUFF BAGS (for your own items plus one large one for a cache bag)

CAMELBACK HYDRATION SYSTEM (optional, but if you bring one, kamagra jelly also bring an insulated tube and mouthpiece) This DOES NOT replace your Water Bottles!

(2)ONE QT. WIDE MOUTH WATER BOTTLES: Please do not bring metal bottles or small mouth bottles.

INSULATED COVER (1or 2 for your water bottles).

LARGE PLASTIC CUP OR BOWL for eating (2-4 cup measuring bowl or Rubbermaid storage bowl work fine)

INSULATED CUP 12 or 16 ounce plastic cup for hot drinks

LARGE PLASTIC (LEXAN) SPOON

2 SMALL LIP BALMS (WITH 30+SPF): Two small tubes are easier to keep from freezing than one big tube.

SUN SCREEN 3-4 OUNCES- two to four small tubes work better than one large tube

TOILET PAPER: 1 or 2 rolls, depending on your technique

TOILET KIT (Tooth brush & paste, floss, Handi-wipes, hand sanitizer… keep it small)

P-BOTTLE Wide-mouth, collapsible Nalgene Cantenes work great- they make a 96 ounce version! Ladies- look for an appropriate adapter available at your local outdoors store. These items are both tough to find in Anchorage so plan ahead!

PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT (Blister kit, aspirin, antacids, lozenges, Ibuprofen). PLEASE CONTACT YOUR PERSONAL PHYSICIAN FOR A LIST OF APPROPRIATE PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS. THERE ARE SOME levitra soft online VERY USEFUL PRESCRIPTION DRUGS THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE AT ALTITUDE. CONTACT US FOR RECOMENDATIONS. OPTIONAL ITEMS

CAMERA, with lots of film or digital and no film

BOOK(s) for storm day reading

JOURNAL & PENCIL

ALTIMETER WATCH

FOOT POWDER

MAPS

BANDANAS

NECK GAITOR (check out the light weight versions from Buff)

SPARE SUN GLASSES

LIGHTER

SWISS ARMY KNIFE

PERSONAL MUSIC PLAYER (iPod, etc with charging system)

SPOT GPS -This personal tracking and locator device tracks your location online, allowing friends and family to keep track buy viagra online of your progress on one of several maps.