June 26 Denali West Buttress Expedition – MEET THE CLIMBERS!

Our last Mountain Trip team is heading to Denali to close out our 2016 season! Each year, climbers are drawn from around the world to experience the splendor and remoteness of the Alaska Range, and especially to climb the highest peak in North America. Denali rises an impressive 20,320′ above the not-too-distant sea.  Located close to the Arctic Circle, it is notorious for presenting climbers with extreme cold and challenging weather, in addition to its high elevation.

Let’s meet the international climbers of the June 26 West Buttress Team!

Kirk Ridenour, from Ohio, USA.

Katrin Oertel, from Germany.

Amanda Birkett, who has traveled from South Africa.

Daniel Laidig, from Indiana, USA.

Zinzan Newton, joining us from Vancouver, B.C.

And our Mountain Trip guide team:

Jacob Schmitz, from Oregon, USA.

Eli Potter, from Alaska. USA.

Jason Denley, from Alaska, USA.

The June 26 Denali team practicing roping up before leaving Talkeetna, AK

This morning the team met early and drove 2 hours north from Anchorage to the quaint town of Talkeetna. In Talkeetna the team checked in with the National Park Service and attended a mandatory climber orientation presented by an NPS ranger. The next stop was with Talkeetna Air Taxi, where they weighed all of the expedition gear. The team is currently in the process of loading their plane, which will take them to Base Camp, located on the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.

The team will likely travel on a nighttime schedule to beat the high sun and heat of the day, as well as to mitigate risk of crevasse fall when the glacier isn’t entirely refrozen. This doesn’t matter all that much, though, in the near-Arctic, since the sun is out for nearly 20 hours per day.

We’ll do our best to post audio updates from the team as they progress up the West Buttress Route. Please keep in mind that mountaineering is demanding work, and the team may not call in with news every day. We would like to reiterate the old adage “No News is Good News,” so family and friends back home don’t worry if they don’t hear from the team every day, or even every other day.

Please post comments!  We cannot pass them along to the team in anything close to real time, but climbers love reading your thoughts and good wishes after they come off the mountain.  If you need to reach a team member with a message, drop us a line and we’ll pass it long.


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  1. Hi Daniel…wishing you and the ream a great safe climb. We are living vicariously through your adventure on Denali. Enjoy every step. You are in our prayers. Howard, Lyn and family

  2. Hi, Daniel. You’re in our thoughts and have our very best wishes for this grand adventure. May each step bring greater strength, resolve, and appreciation for the beauty around you. We will look forward to hearing all about it and seeing the pics. Onward and upward…. Jim, Joan, Jonathan, and Will Guy.

  3. Glad to be able to check in with your progress on this adventure, Daniel! Enjoy it! Prayers from the Smith family!

  4. Love you Manda from The Hunts. Kat and Dayna have your plane photo on their WhatsApp profiles. Have an awesome climb. Big hugs and kisses from us.

  5. I’m so blessed and proud to share this experience with you Amanda.
    All the best to you, your team and your guides. Love you Mom xxxxx

  6. I’m so blessed and proud to share this climb and experience with you Amanda.
    All the best to you and your team. Keep safe. Love you Mom

  7. Hey Daniel! So cool that you are an adventure guy. Sending up safe adventuring prayers from 90° weather Indiana. Love ya, my man! Aunt Sandy

  8. Rowan and I just heard your audio recording! Glad to hear all is going well so far! Sending prayers and positive thoughts your way. Love, Stephanie and Rowan

  9. Go Amanda!
    We’re all cheering you on and can’t wait to hear how you’re doing. You’ve been so dedicated with all your prep for this trip, you deserve to have the BEST time and we know you are being well supported by the team leaders. So be safe, have fun and we look forward to seeing you soon,
    from the book gang
    Rosemary, Steph, Su, Teresa, Charlotte, Claire,
    and from all at Upper Park Road
    Rebekah, Vince, Rhys, Lucy, Mollie, Luna

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