May 8th West Buttress Expedition — MEET THE CLIMBERS!

WELCOME May 8th West Buttress Team!


The May 8th Denali West Buttress team will officially kick off our season in the Alaska Range. We welcome another group of climbers who have chosen to place their trust in Mountain Trip. This year marks our 44rd year of guiding on Denali, and we’re just as excited to accompany climbers to the top of North America this year as ever!

Denali, often called “The Great One,” or “The Roof of North America”, is often touted as the hardest of the Seven Summits, or highest peaks on each continent. Denali rises in stark contrast above the surrounding tundra, standing like an icy sentinel over south central Alaska, visible from over 100 miles away. The climbers of the May 8 team, who have gathered in Alaska from around the world, will be taking the classic West Buttress Route to the summit. The West Buttress is the most commonly used route by mountaineers to reach the 20,310′ summit which gains over 13,000 vertical feet from Base Camp.  The team will spend a maximum of 21 days on the route, three weeks endeavoring towards the highest point in North America.

Let’s meet the climbers!

Matthias Backhaus, from Germany.

Mark Ballard, from Canada via Norway.

Josel Valadez, from Mexico.

Garren Echols, from Arizona, USA.

George Krall, from Arizona, USA.

Horst Strohhäusl, from Austria.

Lead guide Brian Muller, who spends his year guiding across the western US and Japan, will be assisted by guides Fischer Hazen and Dave Nesis, both of whom have traveled from Ophir, Colorado and guide for the Mountain Trip Colorado program in both the summer and winter. All three have guided several successful Mountain Trip Denali trips as well as trips to Aconcagua in South America.

After extensive gear checks, an initial team meeting and packing snacks for the expedition, the team will head a few hours north to the end of the road community of Talkeetna, Alaska, a jumping-off point for the majority of Alaska Range expeditions and the de facto gateway to Denali National Park. From there, the team will catch a scenic ride into the Alaska Range with our friends at Talkeetna Air Taxi, where they will land at Denali Base Camp at 7,200′ on the broad Kahiltna Glacier.

We would like to remind those at home that while we will do the best we can to post updates on the team every day, there might be a few lapses in communication. Please keep in mind the old adage “no news is good news,” and don’t be too alarmed if one, two or even three or four days pass without an audio update from the team. Although satellite phones are often great forms of communication, they sometimes experience difficulties above 14,000′ deep in the rugged Alaska Range, especially during storms. We will post audio recordings and photos directly from the team whenever possible.

For family members and friends at home who are following along at home, you are welcome and encouraged to post comments to your loved ones on the team, just know that they have no way of reading them once they fly into the Range, until after they return to the non-glaciated world and relative civilization of Talkeetna.

We wish the best of luck and success to the May 8 Team! We will post photos of the team together and of their packing efforts once we receive them from Alaska.

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    • Sorry, Mark! We just put down where everyone has listed in their registration. I’ll get that changed! Best of luck on the climb!

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