Denali (Mt. McKinley) 20,320 ft.
THE WEST BUTTRESS- THE CLASSIC ROUTE ON DENALI
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. Mountain Trip has helped more climbers achieve their Denali dreams than any other guide service. We have been guiding the West Buttress since 1976 and we are one of the original Denali National Park guide service concessionaires.
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 place of superlatives. Carrying the heaviest pack of your life in the thin air of altitude at such high latitudes can make the West Buttress a very physically challenging climb. Extreme winds, heavy snowfall and arctic cold all conspire to make it a serious undertaking. Aspiring West Buttress climbers need to be in top physical shape and prepared to suffer with a smile.
Mountain Trip is a small company and we like it that way. It enables us to give personal, attentive service and to provide our climbers with the most experienced guides on the mountain. No other Denali guide service has our stringent guidelines for whom we allow to lead Denali expeditions. Our lead guides have a minimum of five Denali ascents under their boots, and some have 20, 30, or more. Our office staff includes Denali guides who can answer your questions from their personal experience and love to talk about climbing big, cold mountains. Give us a call!
HAVING 3 GUIDES IS IMPORTANT!
We have a long history of thinking outside the box, in a ceaseless effort to offer our climbers the best possible experience on Denali. In 2013, we will offer both our traditional 9-climber, 3-guide expeditions, as well as smaller, 6-climber, 3-guide teams. We feel that having 3 guides on a team is very important to the success and security of a Denali team. Each season we see teams with 2 guides end up having only 1 guide on summit day, which really limits a team’s options.
“From the initial phone call, to the ride back to Anchorage, I was treated like ROYALTY! Every single person from Mountain Trip consistently went ABOVE and BEYOND in their efforts to help me climb Denali. I’ve climbed with different companies before and Mountain Trip felt like family, and treated me as if I was one of their own. It is with the deepest gratitude I can extend to you, for making a lifelong dream come true. THANK YOU!!!!”
-Angela Martz, Denali 2012
“The trip was excellent in every way – I had heard from Scott that Mountain Trip were good – but you still exceeded all my expectations. Our three guides, Durney, Caitlin and Jason were brilliant, they ensured a safe trip despite difficult conditions, every aspect had been thought through and in 3 weeks we did not have a cross word in our team.”
-M. Dixon, West Buttress, 2010
“I have used a few different guiding companies and although a customer’s experience may be more influenced by the guides then the company, Mt Trip in my mind is a high performing guiding company.
My experience was that your company is highly organized from the pre-trip to after the trip.
I have received numerous comments from friends and family that they enjoyed the trip reports and thankful they could follow me while on the expedition.”
-Jason Gross, Denali 2012
A successful ascent of the West Buttress requires basic mountaineering skills and a high level of physical fitness. Climbers should have winter camping experience and should have participated on a long expedition before considering an attempt on Denali. Consider all the facets of a Denali expedition and try to prepare yourself for each aspect and you will have a much more enjoyable trip.
Suggested Training Climbs:
Aconcagua – This is a great entry into high altitude mountaineering and a good stepping stone before attempting Denali because the length of the trip is similar, but it is overall somewhat easier of an ascent, and therefore a good litmus test before spending three weeks on an arctic peak.
Elbrus – This is a good example of a glaciated climb at fairly high altitude. This is somewhat different from “expedition climbing,” because you spend a lot of time in hotels or huts, but it is a challenging climb on a peak that can have notoriously harsh weather.
Mountaineering Courses – There are a number of good courses available that will teach you the skills you need for an ascent of the West Buttress, but even these are not a substitute for getting out into the mountains on an expedition. They are great for avid mountaineers or backpackers who might have a number of the necessary experience components, but are lacking the glacier travel and winter camping skills for a successful ascent of Denali. We offer a 12 day Denali Prep course which gives climbers hands on experience on the Kahiltna Glacier.
Follow Up Climbs
Mount Foraker, Sultana Ridge – After you’ve stood on the top and both sides of Denali, what to do next? Denali’s “little sister” presents a significant challenge for climbers who love climbing big, Alaskan peaks. The Sultana is technically a bit harder than the West Buttress, and demands the physical and mental toughness of the Traverse as it has a huge summit day and big exposure.
Vinson Massif – You could reasonably view this as a good training climb for Denali, as it is not as physically demanding and it is generally a shorter expedition. The new route to high camp is more challenging than the old route and this is a very expensive outing, so it might be better to see if you like big, cold mountains before flying to Antarctica.
Cho Oyu – The sixth highest mountain in the world is a very accessible 8000 meter peak and a good choice for climbers who had a great experience on Denali. It is considered by many to be a prerequisite for stepping up to an Everest expedition, and can be reasonably thought of as an insurance policy to see how your body will do above 8000 meters.
Shishapangma – This 8000 meter peak is the fourteenth highest in the world and is often climbed after an ascent of Cho Oyu, while you are still acclimatized, and enables you to climb two big peaks in a relatively shorter period of time.
Everest – This is a big jump up, and a serious decision, but any prospective Everest climber should climb Denali first.
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 meeting, which you must attend! 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 Millennium Alaska Hotel, 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 be doing our climbing 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 edged stretch, 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 on a big beak like Denali. We will only try for the summit when the weather is good, meaning mostly clear and calm. Our guide staff is the most experienced on the mountain and your guides 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 Mooses 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 reasonably 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 make a summit bid. Such occurrences are rare; but remember– getting everyone home healthy is primary concern.
DAYS 16-17: DESCENT. The descent from High Camp takes from one to 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. As we cannot predict when we will come off the mountain, we cannot make arrangements for lodging ahead of time. This is a true transition day from the intensity of the mountain to the relative big city life of Anchorage.
Anyone considering joining a guided climb of Denali should have a clear understanding of what your role will be when on a climbing team, and also understand what the guides’ and your guide service’s expectations are of you. We have tried to provide this information in our document entitled Expectation Management. Beginning with our 2014 climbing season, we will provide this to each of our Denali climbers and invite every prospective climber to read it.
Music and Entertainment
By Kim Grant
I know that to some, personal music players are anathema in the mountains. I completely understand where you’re coming from and respect your opinion, but I get some additional energy from listening to some good ol’ rock and roll. I also enjoy turning off my brain for a little bit while hanging out in my tent before sleeping, so the new generation of movie players are one of my guilty pleasures.
You should know that personal music/movie players that run on hard drives might not work well at altitude. Hard drives spin on a cushion of air, and with the decreased barometric pressure at altitude, that cushion is smaller, often too small for the unit to function. Newer, flash drive devices are not subject to these considerations.
Keep your music rocking by using a small solar charger. I like the one from Solio, which is compact, lightweight and charges a built in lithium ion battery, which can later be used to charge your music player or cell phone.
Change Yer Pants!
By Dave Staeheli
Oh boy! You have to buy puffy pants for Denali. You are stepping up with the big boys now. You try them on in the store, buy them, take them home and maybe model them for your significant other, then pack them away in their stuff sac.
It’s snowing, it’s blowing, this definitely isn’t Kansas anymore, and in fact you aren’t even sure you are on planet Earth. Where are those puffy pants and how the heck are you going to get them on! Let’s see… you are at 20,000 feet, wearing big boots with crampons, harness on your waist, bundled under a big Michelin Man jacket and you absolutely dread the thought of taking your hands out of your mittens. It suddenly hits you, you are not in your living room and you really, really, REALLY should have practiced with this more!
So, this is the Guide Tip from a guide who has been guiding Denali for 30 years. You really need to practice with this stuff in comfort, ’cause when it gets to be the “Big Nasty,” it is not the time to be figuring it out. Before you travel to Alaska, get all rigged up. Now take off your pants. Make sure you have fogged up goggles! Wearing crampons indoors is optional and you may consider doing this outdoors. Remember; when you’ve got the big panda jacket on, you can’t even see your waist. So how are you going to deal with your harness? How will you deal when your mittens are on?
Maybe, you think to yourself, you better learn to do this fast, with light gloves on preferably. Now put your pants back on. If it took you ten minutes for either operation, it will take you 20 minutes up on the Football Field. Let’s not even think about it on the Autobahn! Now change mittens or gloves. Is there a way to hang them on your waist without taking off your pack? Is your warm hat handy? Can you switch from goggles to sunglasses and do you even know where the blasted things are? Phew, this is hard work!
There is a truism every experienced mountaineer knows, “Plan in comfort, practice in comfort”. Then, when that summit lenticular cloud comes slamming down on our heads, it won’t be a total epic just changing your pants!
Alaskapedia: skookum, adj: an action or state of being that is working well or is all right. As in, “my gear is skookum.”
The following is a list of suggested gear for climbing the West Buttress. Climbers joining Mountain Trip on an expedition will receive an updated, comprehensive equipment list that supersedes this list.
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 and certain trips will require slightly different gear lists, so contact us for specifics.
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.
- 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 the Spantiks Shop for Mountain Boots
- 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 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. Guides Pick: Sierra Designs Down Booty
- 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. Guides Pick: MSR Evo Ascent Snowshoe ** available for rent
- 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. Guides Pick: Black Diamond Expedition Ski Pole
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. Guides Pick: Patagonia Capilene 2 Crew
- LIGHT FLEECE: Top and Bottoms made from 100 weight or Powerstretch fleece. Again, a zip t-neck is important for ventilating. Guides’ Pick: Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight 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 Das Pants or Feathered Friends Volant Pants. These can be layered over your shell pants for easier and quicker layer changes. Guides Pick: Mountain Hardwear Compressor Pant
- 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
- SHELL JACKET & PANTS: They should be large enough to go over your pile clothing layers and the pants must have full length 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. Guides Pick: Patagonia M10 Jacket
- EXPEDITION DOWN PARKA (WITH HOOD): Marmot, Mountain Hardwear and The North Face all make good parkas, but because it is the lightest and warmest Down Parka we’ve ever seen, our Guides’ Pick is the Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay Parka.
- 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! Guides’ Pick: Merino Mountaineering Extra Cushion Sock
- 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. Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Guide Glove
- 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. Guides’ Pick: Seirus Neofleece Masque
- 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. Guides’ Pick: Julbo Explorer Alti Spectron 4 Sunglasses
- SKI GOGGLES: For use while traveling during storms or during really cold spells. These must have double lenses and provide UV protection. Fogging is a real challenge, so the “Turbo Fan” goggles are worth the investment! Guides’ Pick: Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Goggle with Red/Sol X Mirror Lens
- EXPEDITION PACK: Unfortunately, it is getting harder to find a good expedition-sized back pack. Denali requires a 6000+ cu in. or 85+ liter pack to carry your gear, plus group food & equipment. The Mountain Hardwear BMG and the Osprey Xenith 105 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 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! Guides’ Pick: Patagonia Black Hole 120L
- EXPEDITION SLEEPING BAG: Rated to -20 to -40 Fahrenheit (-30 to -40 Celsius) Which to choose, down or synthetic? We prefer down bags because they are lighter, more compact, and have a longer lifespan than synthetics. Guides’ Pick: Marmot Col EQ -20 or Marmot CWM EQ -40
- 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. Guides’ Pick: Outdoor Research UltraLight Compression Sack 20L
- (2) SLEEPING PADS: You will need 1 basic foam pad, and 1 inflatable sleeping pad. This system will keep you off the snow and the foam pad is good insurance against a popped inflatable pad. Guides’ Pick: Exped DownMat UL 7 paired with a Therm a Rest Ridge Rest SOLite(regular)
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! The traditional wire toe-bail and the newer “Clip” models both work, but the “Clip” versions are more secure on top of overboots, and easier to use in cold conditions. Make sure they fit with your mountain boots and overboots. Fit is especially important with overboots! Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Sabretooth Clip Crampon
- HARNESS: Your harness should be adjustable enough to accommodate several layers of clothing. Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Couloir Harness
- ASCENDERS: You need one full-sized ascender such as the Petzl Ascension, consider bringing a left-handed one for ease of use on the fixed lines. Guides’ Pick: Petzl Ascension Ascender
- 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 and the locking Black Diamond VaporLock Carabiner
- PERLON CORD: 50 feet of 5 or 6 mm for sled and pack tie offs. Guides’ Pick: Blue Water 6mm Cord
- CLIMBING HELMET: Make certain it fits over your warmest hat and under the hood of your shell. Superlight foam helmets have a tendency to get crushed in your bag during travel. Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
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)
- (2)ONE QT. WIDE MOUTH WATER BOTTLES: Please do not bring metal bottles or small mouth bottles. Guides’ Pick: Nalgene Wide Mouth 1liter Bottle
- 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 for hot drinks. Guides’ Pick: The 16 oz Kleen Kanteen Insulated Bottle with the “Cafe’ Cap” gives you a drinking mug and a thermos in one!
- 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, foot powder… 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 VERY USEFUL PRESCRIPTION DRUGS THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE AT ALTITUDE. CONTACT US FOR RECOMENDATIONS. OPTIONAL ITEMS
- CAMERA, with extra batteries and memory cards.
- BOOK(s) for storm day reading
- JOURNAL & PENCIL
- ALTIMETER WATCH. The Suunto Vector is a classic mountaineering altimeter watch.
- BUFF. A lightweight neck gaiter for sun, wind, and cold protection. These are a Guides’ Favorite!
- SPARE SUN GLASSES
- 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 of your progress on one of several maps.