2017 Denali Season!
As the days grow longer in the northern hemisphere, the Mountain Trip family starts to migrate north to Alaska. After a while, it just feels natural, part of the cycle of the seasons, that tug deep inside that pulls us north. Maybe that’s what birds feel?
Alaska, as we like to say, is a land of superlatives. Just think about it! Alaska has blue skies at night in the summer, stars during the day in the winter, crazy cold and baking hot days – things like those and the fact that it is home to moose, grizzlies, volcanoes, and the most vertical gain of anywhere on the planet, with Denali rising a full 18,000 feet (~5500m) from the surrounding tundra, and it kind of boggles the mind!
Mountain Trip is privileged to have had the opportunity to help others explore and enjoy the wild and remote Alaska Range of Denali National Park and Preserve for over 40 years. The season is short and as demand for our services has increased over the years, it has become pretty busy, with the 2017 Denali Season expected to be one of the busiest yet. Between the end of April and the middle of June, we will launch 21 expeditions up Denali, via three different routes, the iconic West Buttress, the classic West Rib and, perhaps the greatest alpine climb in North America, the Cassin Ridge.
While Denali is the obvious draw for mountaineers, due to it being the tallest mountain in North America and how it dominates the Alaska Range, rising a half mile higher than it’s next tallest neighbor, the 17,400′ Mount Foraker, the Range is home to many lifetimes worth of great climbing. A favorite is the granite Mooses Tooth, which is located east of Denali (and is spelled in a grammatically incorrect manner). Alpine and strong ice climbers come up each year to climb a couple of classic, long ice routes that split it’s granitic walls. Nick Aiello, one of our lead guides, just flew into Mooses Tooth with a a couple climbers to attempt one of those lines, a route called Ham and Eggs.
The Alaska Range is huge, beautiful, exciting and ultimately, unforgiving. It is common to feel so small as you gaze up at mile high granite walls or try to wrap your head around the fact that the summit Mount Foraker, which just right there(!) is actually two vertical miles above your head! Storms can be intense and of course, there is the cold for which Denali is famous. Modern gear has helped us mitigate some of the challenges of Alaska Range climbing, but climbers need to be tough, fit and resilient, because the Range will test your mettle and that of your gear.
We’re excited to start the 2017 climbing season and we encourage you to follow our teams and experience Alaskan climbing through their words, in their voices, as they call in audio post updates from their climbs on our Trip Report pages. In recent years, the National Park Service has also started posting field reports and statistics, including how many climbers are registered, on the mountain and how many teams have summitted. For the most up to date information on climber numbers and summits, they also have a hotline phone number you can call, at +1(907) 733-9127.