Lead Guide Nick Nason checked in from Base Camp where he joins Alan Snyder and Mountain Trip Guide Logan Demarcus for a private expedition attempting the iconic West Buttress route on North America’s tallest mountain – Denali. At 20,310 feet tall, Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, dominates the Alaskan landscape for over a hundred mile radius. Its high altitude, combined with its very high latitude, make it an incredibly challenging endeavor.
The West Buttress route was pioneered by Bradford Washburn and team in 1951. The route follows the 40-mile long Kahiltna Glacier for about nine miles and then ascends alongside and ultimately onto the crags of the western buttress of the mountain. Most teams take two to three weeks to ascend the peak, pacing themselves to enable their bodies to acclimatize to the thin air of the upper mountain.
Two days ago, they met in Anchorage, Alaska to finalize their preparations. The following day, they drove north to the small town of Talkeetna, from where they flew into the Alaska Range with our air taxi partners at Talkeetna Air Taxi on a ski-equipped airplane.
The team will awaken early tomorrow and hike the first five miles or so early in the morning, so as to avoid the heat of the day, which makes snow travel more difficult. They will remain roped together in a fashion to provide security against a slip into one of the many crevasses that slice the Kahiltna.
We hope you enjoy the posts as Alan and his team climb over the next few weeks. Please keep in mind that satellite phones don’t always work perfectly at such high northern latitudes. We urge you to hold on to the axiom of, “No news is good news!” The team could easily not call in an update on some days or call in a dispatch that proves unintelligible, due to a poor satellite connection.