May 19th West Buttress Denali Expedition – Back in High Camp after Summit Attempt

The May 19th Team went for the summit, but then made the wise decision to come back down in the face of adverse weather conditions. They are currently back at High Camp. 

The recording is a bit hard to hear, but here’s Lead Guide Tom reporting on the day: Audio Recording


High Camp, with the “Autobahn” in the background. The route traverses up and to the left to Denali Pass (the saddle).

It’s so difficult to know when to turn back, but we are incredibly proud of the team for making the right decision. They climbed across the Autobahn (the long traverse track in the picture above) to Denali Pass, where they encountered strong cold winds that would not allow them to continue.

The number one reason for medical evacuation of climbers on Denali is frostbite, and most of it occurs between High Camp and the summit where temperatures are normally in the -15 degree Fahrenheit range.

Our philosophy for guiding Denali can be summed up with three goals:

  1. Everyone comes home in good health.
  2. Everyone has a great experience.
  3. Everyone stands on the summit.

We will never sacrifice our first two goals for the sake of the third and we applaud the team for turning back. 

Stay tuned for more updates on the team’s status in the days to come!

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