Skiing Denali is one of the best 'out there' ski mountaineering objectives around...
Denali is the highest mountain in North America (6194m) and boasts the biggest vertical rise of any peak. At 63 degrees north, it has an arctic feel to it and is a special place. The best time to climb Denali is spring, when glaciers are safest, it is a little warmer and we have 20 hours daylight per day.
Unlike the Himalaya, climbing Denali starts with an air-taxi flight landing directly on the Kahiltna Glacier. There is no trek-in, rather we are deposited right at the start of the climbing, after a dramatic 45 minute flight through the Alaska Range.
Denali can have brutal weather, with gale force winds and temperatures plummiting to below -30 C, but on its good days is similar to the Alps.
There are no sherpas or porters on this trip which means we must carry or sled-haul all our food and gear for 3 weeks. Our packs and sleds will be heavy - upto 45kg total - and we 'double carry' to make progress up the hill. This also helps us acclimatise. Right from the start we are on glaciers and living in snow, skinning between camps.
Who is it for?
You need to be an Expert off-piste skier, with good control in all conditions and able to ski steep slopes of 45 degrees. You need to be very fit, as we are carrying heavy loads for much of the time. You also need to be resilient and fairly self-reliant, as we are winter camping on glaciers in harsh conditions for up to 3 weeks. Denali is is no pushover you will need plenty of previous ski mountaineering experience and be competent to actively participate in crevasses rescue. You will also benefit from previous expedition experience.
We run short Denali Preparation courses on a bespoke basis in the alps for those who need to brush up there winter camping and crevasse rescue skills.
We have teamed up with IFMGA Guide Tim Connelley to lead this trip for us. He has multiple summits to his credit and is one of our regular Guides in the alps too. In 2006, Tim was voted 'Guide of the Year' by the AMGA! The guiding ratio is 3:1 and Tim will be joined by other guides if the group is bigger than 3.
We will hopefully be able to ski from the summit, but like all big-mountain skiing we are at the mercy of the conditions and our own abilities! We can expect all sorts of snow, from icy-hardpack, to crust and mush but also powder too! We get plenty of skiing on this trip as we leapfrog up and down between camps. Much of it is with heavy packs but much is unburdened too.
Ski Denali Itinerary
Weather is a crucial factor on this trip, and we are likely to have delays. We may need to spend a couple of nights at Talkeetna at the start of the trip if the air-taxis can't fly. Like wise we may need to sit in our high camp or 'Medical camp' waiting for clear weather to summit. Return flights home should be kept flexible!
Day 1 Arrive Anchorage
Day 2 Final preparation in Anchorage
Day 3 Drive to Talkeetna, attend a safety/environmental briefing with the Park Rangers, hopefully fly into Base Camp!
Day 4 Move all our gear and us to camp 1 at 7800ft. About a 5 hour day.
Day 5 Carry a load (fuel, food, some personal items) to a cache at 10,200ft. Return to camp1.
Day 6 Break camp and move up to camp 2 at 11,200ft. Set up camp for the night.
Day 7 Drop down to our cache and return to camp 2 for the night.
Day 8 Carry a load round Windy Corner to 'Medical camp' at 14,000ft. Return to camp 2.
Day 9 Pack up camp and move to Medical camp.
Day 10 Well earnt rest day to acclimatise.
Day 11 Carry a load up the fixed ropes on the headwall of the West Buttress to 16,200ft. Back to Medical camp.
Day 12 Rest day.
Day 13 Break camp and move upto our high camp at 17,200ft. This is a great days climbing up the headwall and along a fine ridge.
Day 14 Rest and acclimatisation day.
Day 15-20 Six Potential summit days.
Day 21 Return to base camp
Day 22 Air taxi back to Talkeetna.
Day 23 Return to Anchorage.
Day 24 Fly home.
Download the Info Pack PDF and get in touch for more information or to register your interest in this trip. We are very happy to discuss your suitability for this expedition.