The West Buttress: The Classic Route on Denali (Mt. McKinley): 20,310 ft.
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 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. As one of the original Denali National Park guide service concessionaires, Mountain Trip has been guiding climbers up the West Buttress each season since 1976.
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 a very difficult route, climbers must 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 a northern latitude 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 expeditions on the mountain. Our lead guides have a minimum of five Denali ascents under their boots — 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!
Guide Ratios are 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 began offering both our traditional 9-climber, 3-guide expeditions, as well as smaller, 6-climber, 3-guide teams. We feel that having three guides on a team is highly important to the success and security of a Denali team. Each season we see other guide service teams with two guides end up having only one guide on summit day, which really limits a team’s options.