Meet the Team! The May 26th West Buttress Denali Expedition

Please join us in welcoming our 9th Denali team of the season: the May 26th West Buttress Team!

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 we are honored that these climbers chose us to guide them on their journey!

The May 26th Expedition consists of:

  • Climber Todd Snell
  • Climber Tavis Shaw
  • Climber Luke Shaw
  • Climber David Cüster
  • Climber Triin Seli 
  • Climber Benjamin Rayfield

Led by their amazing guides:

We are excited to follow along as the May 26th expedition 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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