A hearty “Welcome!” to our May 21 West Buttress team! We are so excited to be along for this journey to North America’s highest peak. We know that for many Denali is a lifelong goal, and the culmination of many months of training, and years spent in the mountains. So we are honored to have been chosen to guide these folks on 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!
Denali (“The Great One”) 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 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.
Let’s meet the team!
- Mark LeDoux
- Arnaud Fortin
- Celine Xuereb
- Janna Niebyl
- Ran Krauss
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 Fact! “On June 7, 1913, four men stood on the top of Denali for the first time. By achieving the summit of the highest peak in North America, Walter Harper, Harry Karstens, Hudson Stuck and Robert Tatum made history. One of the party, Harry Karstens, would continue to have an association with the mountain and the land around it by becoming the first superintendent of the fledgling Mount McKinley National Park, which would be renamed Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980.” Check out this log of oral histories of the first summit of Denali on the NPS blog here!
We wish the best of luck to the team!
-Mountain Trip Team