Denali in 2015!
Last week I finally bit the bullet and committed to one of my big challenges for next year – climbing Denali! After weighing up all the options (and costs…) I eventually decided on this mountain over the other adventures I was considering. It checked a lot of the boxes – expedition-style mountaineering, moderate technical difficulty, low objective risk, etc. – and it should be an incredible challenge and overall experience.
For those of you unfamiliar with the mountain, Denali (also called McKinley) is in Alaska and is the highest peak in North America at 6,195m/20,320ft. It’s usually climbed along the standard West Buttress route, which makes a massive 4km total height gain and four camps from the base camp start point on Kahiltna Glacier at 2,200m. Give its near-polar latitude at 63ºN, the mountain is notorious for its cold weather (sometimes down to -40ºC) and vicious arctic storms. Mainly for that reason, the historical success rate for making the summit is only around 50%.
There are only a handful of commercial operators that are allowed to offer expeditions to Denali, and I’m going to be going with one of the most reputable and respected names in the industry: Alpine Ascents International (AAI). They have a lot of information about the expedition on their website.
I’m currently down for the May 17th departure date, but I’m trying to see if I can get one of the later June dates which are more squarely in the Denali high season. That gives me around six months to get into the best shape of my life. I’ve already started to pull together an equipment list, as while I have a lot of general (summer) mountaineering gear I’ll need a lot of specialty clothing for the cold temperatures.
Really excited for the experience and the challenges to come!