A very warm welcome to the May 20 West Buttress Team! We are so excited to climb alongside this team of folks on their journey up North America’s highest peak. We acknowledge that for many, reaching the summit of Denali is a lifelong goal, and the culmination of many months of training, and years spent in the mountains, and are honored to have been chosen to guide them along that experience. The team will be making an attempt at the classic West Buttress route, which ascends over 13,000 feet from Base Camp on the South East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier to the astounding 20,310-foot (6,190 meter) summit.
Majestic Denali rises a full 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) above its surrounding landscape. It has the highest vertical rise of any mountain on Earth! Also, due to its location so close to the Arctic Circle, conditions can often be very winter like well into the summer months. The team will undoubtedly experience some cold temperatures with their mid May departure, but have the benefit of (generally) less snowfall, stronger snow bridges over cravasses, and fewer teams on the mountain. The West Buttress route (first pioneered by Bradford Washburn and seven teammates in 1951) will lead them through heavily glaciated terrain from Base Camp at 7,200 feet, to Camp 1 at 7,800 feet, Camp 2 at 11,200 feet, Camp 3 at 14,200 feet, High Camp at 17,200 feet, to–conditions permitting–the 20,310-foot summit.
Sue Mamer and Peter Alvarado will be led by lead guide Elias De Andres Martos joined by Ryan Dingwall.
Throughout the team’s expedition, please keep in mind the adage of “no news is good news” in terms of the updates from the field. There are some days when certain circumstances, like poor satellite phone reception (this happens frequently at Camp 2 at 11,200′, as it is situated in a high-alpine basin with massive peaks on all sides), fatigue from a particularly long day, no change in their situation due to weather, etc., will prevent teams from calling in an update. Friends and family are encouraged to leave comments for their loved ones on this expedition, but keep in mind that they will not be able to see posts or comments until they return to Talkeetna after the end of their expedition, once they leave the glacier.
Fun Denali Fact: In 2015, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel, endorsed by President Obama, issued a secretarial order that officially changed the mountain’s name from Mount McKinley to Denali. Jewell was granted the authority to make such changes in certain cases per the 1947 federal law that provides for the standardization of geographic names through the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. The name change will be reflected in all federal usage. Read more about the origin of the name on the NPS blog here.
We’re wishing the team an exciting journey on “The Great One”!
– The Mountain Trip Team