Meet the Team! The May 13th West Buttress Denali Expedition

Please join us in welcoming our 4th Denali team of the season: the May 13th West Buttress Team, or as they would like to be called, the “SA & CO Denali Team”!

This Expedition Team consists of:

  • Climber Mohamed Zahid
  • Climber Ret Taylor
  • Climber Haytham Zahid
  • Climber Mike Stuart
  • Climber Alex Beal

Led by their amazing guides:

We are excited to follow along as the SA & CO Denali Team begins their journey to ascend the snow and ice-covered slopes of Denali in a quest to stand atop the highest summit in North America at 20,310 feet (6,190 meters). Denali, which is Athabaskan for “The Great One”, rises a full 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) above its surrounding landscape; that’s 5,000 feet more than the elevation relief of Mt Everest!

Denali from Base Camp. The West Buttress roughly ascends the left skyline.

The adventure of climbing Denali begins the moment you step on the plane, because simply getting to Alaska is an adventure in and of itself! Once our team arrives in Anchorage they begin the process of fine-tuning their equipment list, paying attention to every little detail to ensure the highest chance of success while on the mountain, and then packing up all of their food and gear into duffels, backpacks, and food bags.

From Anchorage, the team will drive north to the small town of Talkeetna, the launching point for nearly all expeditions into the Alaska Range and Denali National Park. Then, the “hurry up and wait” begins, as climbers wait for a weather window that will allow the excellent pilots at Talkeetna Air Taxi to ferry them into Kahiltna Base Camp on their classic de Havilland DHC-3 planes, affectionately known as “Otters”.

Photo courtesy of our guide, Matthew Koenig.

Our team will climb Denali via the classic West Buttress Route which will ascend over 13,000 feet from Basecamp on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier to the sky-scraping 20,310 foot (6,190 meter) summit. The West Buttress will lead the team through heavily glaciated terrain from Basecamp on the Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200′, to Camp One at 7,800′, Camp Two at 11,200′, Camp Three at 14,200′, High Camp at 17,200′, to (conditions permitting) the 20,310′ summit. To get a better understanding of the route, check out our interactive map on

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, or no change in their situation due to weather, 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.

Also, don’t forget that you can subscribe to this expedition’s Field Reports by entering your email address in the form to the right. That way, you never miss an update!

Interested in more information about conditions and happenings on Denali? Be sure to also check out the Denali National Park’s Denali Dispatches Blog where they post weekly Field Reports.



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  1. Dear Climbers,
    May the Almighty protect you , give you strength, stamina and grant you an easy journey all the way to the summit. Enjoy your journey!

  2. Allah ma3akum , I entrust you in His loving care.
    Praying for fair weather throughout inshallah.
    Eat well drink plenty and rest 😉🥰🥰🥰Ma

  3. Other than getting married and becoming a parent, this will likely be the biggest challenge of your adventurous life. You’ve trained fully for it, physically and mentally, now Just Do It.

  4. You Go Ret & companions! Will follow you from a flat part of the world: The Netherlands :-).
    Keep safe – enjoy & conquer Denali!
    Hugs from all the Stootjes

  5. So stoked for you and your crew, Tootz. I know it will be everything and more; let your wildness lead!

    As my brethren Norsemen Roald Amundsen famously said before, “The man who is animated by the spirit of adventure will find himself capable of things that ordinary men would never dream of”. I will have anker dram prepared for your arrival no doubt!

  6. Aaaaaah FUNK YAAAS!! I am stoked for this trip!! You all are going to skip to the top. In all seriousness I am beyond humbled by your attempt at this feat. Sending all my love and persistence to you and your crew. 🙏🙏 can’t wait to hear about it when you’re back!

  7. Ret and the rest of the gang…may Mother Nature and Denali smile upon you. With all the wishes for a great adventure. As a team you will go far. Btw, even the base camp looks intense… not for the faint of heart.

  8. Knowing that you guys are trekking along beautifully, you got this 🙂 Make sure Alex is getting some cover shots Ret, we need to keep leaving the competition in the dust for the most covers ever in Boulder Lifestyle Mag, Ahahaha! One step at a time, much love to you guys!

  9. Knowing that you guys are trekking along beautifully, you got this 🙂 Make sure Alex is getting some cover shots Ret, we need to keep leaving the competition in the dust for the most covers ever in Boulder Lifestyle Mag, Ahahaha! One step at a time, much love to you guys!

  10. This trek looks absolutely amazing …I can’t wait to get the updates along the way. I’m beyond impressed by your courage and stamina to undertake such an enormous challenge. I will be sending positive vibes along the way. Way to go Ret and friends!!!

  11. Very impressive to see where you guys are right now. It is already too high for me. Way to go team! May divine energy be with you at all times and lead the way to the summit and back home in safety. May good weather make this expedition an amazing experience and connect you as friends and brothers at even deeper levels. Wishing you a fantastic trip and a beautiful climb to the summit! Much love. Denise Marie

  12. Hi Baba,

    I really really miss you, I hope you’re having a fun time climbing Denali. I hope you come back safely and soon with pictures and stories.


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