The West Buttress – The Classic Route on Denali (Mount McKinley): 20,310′
Join one of our small-sized teams, with a high guide-to-climber ratio, on the West Buttress of Denali—North America’s classic mountaineering objective. 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 with the exception of 2020, Mountain Trip has been guiding climbers up the West Buttress each season since 1976.
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 it’s not one of the most technical routes on the mountain, 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 very physically challenging. 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, which is an authorized concessionaire of Denali National Park and Preserve.
Following the 2022 Denali season, we launched Summit Denali, a new website compiling our almost 50 years of institutional knowledge of climbing “The Great One.” Our intent is to share all of this knowledge to recreational and guided climbers alike, from detailed route and itinerary info, to training and preparation, to equipment and guide tips, all to help get you ready to step on the mountain and reach the summit. Please check it out, and let it be a tool as you prepare for your Denali expedition!
If you have questions, please contact the Mountain Trip office at [email protected] or (970) 369-1153.