Private Jay West Buttress Expedition — Meet the Team!

Welcome to Alaska, Leah and Paul!

Ready to fly into Base Camp on the Kahiltna with Talkeetna Air Taxi.


This will be our 46th consecutive season guiding on Denali, and we’re honored to welcome the  team and all of the other climbers that have trusted us to help them test their fortitude on the highest mountain in North America. The May 17 Denali West Buttress team have made their arrival at Denali Base Camp after a beautiful, clear flight in after a bit of rain in Talkeetna!

At 20,310 feet (6190 m), Denali rises a full 18,000 feet 5486 m) above its surrounding landscape.  It has the highest vertical rise of any mountain on earth, and due to its location so close to the Arctic Circle, conditions can often be very winter-like well into the summer months. Around the solstice, the Alaska Range experiences over 20 hours of daylight, and even in the depths of night the sun never truly sets. The West Buttress, the route the team will be taking, will lead them through heavily glaciated terrain from their current location at base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200′, to Camp One at 7,800′, Camp Three at 11,200′, Camp Four at 14,200′, High Camp at 17,200′, to–conditions permitting–the 20,310′ summit.

Let’s meet the climbers!

From left to right: Fischer Hazen, Nicole Lawton, Leah Jay and Paul John Pheby.


Leah Jay and Paul John Pheby will be assisted by the Mountain Trip guide duo of Fischer Hazen and Nicole Lawton.

Please keep in mind the adage of “no news is good news” in terms of the updates from the team in the field. There are some days when 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.

Best of luck to the climbers, who will likely make the heavy move up to Camp One today, Monday May 20. While they wont see much elevation gain on the journey, it will be heavy and difficult as they will be carrying all of their supplies for the entire 22-day expedition–likely the heaviest packs of their lives to date.

Here’s Fischer with the update from Base Camp on the Kahiltna at 7,200′, where the team arrived to beautiful weather and inspiring views of all of the surrounding peaks–including the summit of Denali over 13,000′ above.


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