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 who choose to climb Denali 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. The legacy of Mountain Trip stretches back to before the National Park Service started the current concession system, and Mountain Trip has been guiding climbers up the West Buttress each season since 1976. Mountain Trip Alaska, LLC is an authorized concessionaire of Denali National Park and Preserve.
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Our West Buttress expeditions begin at 7,200 feet on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. They follow 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 West Buttress expeditions a very physically challenging climb. Extreme winds, heavy snowfall and arctic cold all conspire to make it a serious undertaking. If you want to climb Denali, you need to be in top physical shape and prepared to suffer with a smile. To help you better prepare for the physical challenges of Denali we provide a 24 week custom Mountaineering Training program designed by the professional coaches at Uphill Athlete to all of our Denali climbers (including guides!) so you can be confident that you will be in great shape, and your teammates will be as well.
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 West Buttress 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 and climb Denali with us! All Denali expeditions are run by Mountain Trip Alaska, LLC.
Guide Ratios are Important!
We have a long history of thinking outside the box as we continuously try to offer our climbers the best possible experience on Denali. In 2013, we began offering smaller, 6-climber, 3-guide teams. We feel that having a 2:1 ratio of climbers to guides on a our smaller teams can really benefit the success and security of a Denali team. Each season we see other guide service teams with six climbers and two guides end up having only one guide on summit day, which really limits a team’s options. Based on the positive feedback we have received over the years, we will only be offering 2:1 ratio teams for our 2020 season, as we think it provides a better experience.