May 29 West Buttress Expedition — Meet the Climbers!

The highest peak in North America, Denali, rises a full 18,000 feet (5500m) above the surrounding tundra, just miles from the arctic circle.  “The Great One,” as it is otherwise known, dominates the horizon of south central Alaska from over a hundred miles away. The mountain has inspired mountaineers from around the world for over 100 years.

The climbers on the May 29 Mountain Trip Expedition will attempt the summit via the West Buttress route the “classic” and most popular route for reaching the summit of the mountain, which stands an impressive 20,310′ above sea level.

The team, that has gathered from around the United States (with one member from France) will take on North America’s highest peak, and will spend up to 21 days on the Kahiltna glacier, and later, Denali itself, endeavoring toward their goal of standing on the summit.

Let’s meet the climbers!

Kristopher Mertens, from Missouri, USA.

Matthew Howell, from Arizona, USA.

Leonid Perlov, from Massachusetts, USA.

Sofia Hansson, from Chamonix, France.

Ross Jobson, from Colorado, USA.

Gerard Crum, from Florida, USA.

 

They will be accompanied by Mountain Trip guides Eli Potter (lead), Jason Denley and Carly Cain. The group has gathered in Anchorage, AK to go through all of their last minute preparations, including picking out upwards of 20 pounds of snacks alone to keep them going throughout the journey up the West Buttress, which features over 13,000′ of elevation gain. Guides also met with each climber individually to check over all of their gear to ensure that they have the proper equipment to make life on the glacier as comfortable as possible.

The guides have also spent hours at our headquarters in Anchorage checking out all of the group gear to make sure it’s in pristine condition, packing and weighing out supplies, and preparing delicious and hearty meals to be enjoyed on the mountain, to fuel the climbers up for success.

From Anchorage, the team drove for a few hours to the small, end-of-the-road, quirky hamlet of Talkeetna, AK, the jumping-off point for the majority of Denali expeditions.

After an orientation about the mountain from the Climbing Rangers of the National Park Service, the team will head over to Talkeetna Air Taxi headquarters, where they will load a ski plane with all of their gear, food and supplies for the next three weeks. Once they have good weather to take off, the team will spend about 45 minutes flying deeper into the heart of Denali National Park and the Alaska Range, over massive, heavily-crevassed glaciers, braided rivers, rugged peaks and before touching down at Denali Base Camp at 7,200′ on the Kahiltna Glacier.

We will post updates on the team’s progress as we receive them via satellite phone from the mountain, but please keep in mind the adage, “no news is good news.” There are some days when the team is simply too busy to call, or can’t find good enough service to get a good connection. Anytime we receive a report, we will be sure to update you all promptly, as we know friends and family back home will be tracking the climbers’ progress. Everyone is encouraged to leave well wishes and encouragement in the comments, and although the climbers won’t see them while on the mountain, they will be able to read everything once they return. Feel free to “subscribe” to the team’s updates so you will be notified each time they call in.

Best of luck to the climbers–we wish them clear weather and good conditions among the giants of the Alaska Range! To those at home–enjoy the updates.

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