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Denali Speed Record

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Denali Speed Record

Postby gwave47 » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:38 pm

Does anybody know the speed ascent record for Denali?
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Postby Steve Gruhn » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:12 am

Chad Kellogg did it in around 24 hours from base camp to summit to base camp a few years ago. There was some guy who disputed it, though, claiming that there wasn't adequate time verification. Try a google search for Kellogg and Denali (or McKinley) speed climb.
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Postby gwave47 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:22 am

I'd be interested to know if he spent any time high on the mountain acclimatizing then rushes down to basecamp and began his speed ascent. If he spent anytime acclimatizing before he started the clock then I would argue that it doesn't count.
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Denali Speed record

Postby Cy Kaicener » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:25 am

Chad Kellogg did it in 23 hrs 55 minutes on the West Ridge R/T in 2003 starting at 7200 ft
http://chadkellogg.com/denali.html
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Postby Steve Gruhn » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:35 am

He did spend time up high before returning to base camp to start his speed climb.

Not sure what hoops one would have to jump through to make things count in your eyes, but it's probably a safe bet that Kellogg doesn't care. Just like other athletic records, no one requires that athletes remain at a certain elevation for a specified period of time prior to competition.
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Postby cbcbd » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:11 am

gwave47 wrote:I'd be interested to know if he spent any time high on the mountain acclimatizing then rushes down to basecamp and began his speed ascent. If he spent anytime acclimatizing before he started the clock then I would argue that it doesn't count.

Lol, really? Of course he acclimatized. Climbing from 7K to 20K in a single push without prior acclimatization is idiotic and a death wish. I doubt anyone would be expecting any sensible climber to be attempting such a thing.
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Postby gwave47 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:48 am

That's my point though. Acclimatizing is part of the climb. The speed record should be how fast you climb including acclimatizing. Otherwise, you have a non standardized variable that may give him the advantage. What if he acclimatized for 10 days, and the next guy who tries it acclimatized 4 days. I can guarantee you who has the advantage in that situation, also if he acclimatized up to a higher elevation than the next person. A speed record should be getting off the plane, utilizing transportation to the trailhead, and they starting the clock from there. Acclimatizing should be considered part of the climb and therefore included in the time. If there's not a standard, some climbers could fully acclimatize, set fixed ropes for the entire route, cut steps in with their axe the day before, etc. Just my opinion. That acclimatizing is part of the climb. But i'm sure everyone is about to rip me a new one and tell me that I'm wrong. I'm not saying the man is not incredible for what he accomplished, I surely couldn't do it.
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Postby Brad Marshall » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:23 am

In May of 1990 Anatoli Boukreev made a speed ascent of the West Rib in 10 1/2 hours and was back in base camp in under 24 hours.
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Postby Baarb » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:47 am

gwave47 wrote:A speed record should be getting off the plane, utilizing transportation to the trailhead, and they starting the clock from there.


And what if they're home town is at 10000 feet? Maybe they should be confined to base camp for 2 weeks to try and even things out? Don't really see how it matters, these things are for personal accomplishment and not the Olympics where fair play is more relevant.
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Postby gwave47 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:18 am

I knew that question would come up, but seeing how people climb to 14k without acclimatizing, that would not make nearly the difference, as someone hanging out at 18k for a week.

The problem is this, speed records like this get highly publicized without an explanation of change of altitude and it's dangers. Then it becomes a gross misrepresentation of the sport. I intend on climbing Denali one day, and when a coworker asked me last week how long it would take I explained 2 - 3 weeks possibly longer, depending on pace, choice of partners, and most importantly weather. Well he caught the PBS special on National Parks last night and saw where Denali has been climbed in less than 24 hours. He comes back to work today and asks why it would take 2 - 3 weeks if someone has climbed it in less than 24 hours. I tried to explain that it is not humanly possible to my knowledge to climb to 20k in 24 hours. I tried to explain to him what altitude sickness is and the effect elevation has on the brain and body. I told him that in my honest opinion the guy had to have acclimatized for a week or more. He said that the PBS special did not mention anything like that, and that according to it, Denali has been climbed in less than 24 hours without any prior preparation such as acclimatizing. How many other people caught the PBS special and now have a false impression of mountaineering or the power and danger of Denali? Not saying its the climbers fault. Just think these "official" records should be kept differently.

I'm looking for a partner for a day hike on Everest next week, any takers? I hear it only takes just over 8 hours get up, if we leave early enough, we should be down for a late lunch.
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Postby Pivvay » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:44 am

Speed records at altitude have never counted acclimatization trips. The sooner you accept that the easier this conversation will be. The record is from whatever is considered "base camp" to the summit and back. If you want to train and sleep on the summit beforehand, go ahead.

Speed records not counting acclimatization trips are just a recipe to get people sick or killed.
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Postby cbcbd » Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:24 am

gwave47 wrote:That's my point though. Acclimatizing is part of the climb. The speed record should be how fast you climb including acclimatizing. Otherwise, you have a non standardized variable that may give him the advantage.

How fast one acclimatizes is a non standard variable. Everyone is different and there is no certain way of measuring that.
I guess the point is that bringing up acclimatization and saying "it doesn't count" because he acclimatized is just not really a valid point of contention when talking about a 20K' peak because everyone will have to do it. Like Pivvay said - anyone is more than welcome to spend as much time acclimatizing and then try to beat Chad's record.

gwave47 wrote:I knew that question would come up, but seeing how people climb to 14k without acclimatizing, that would not make nearly the difference, as someone hanging out at 18k for a week.

Not everyone can climb up to 14K without acclimatizing. Again, you can't make acclimatization speed a fixed variable.

gwave47 wrote:The problem is this, speed records like this get highly publicized without an explanation of change of altitude and it's dangers. Then it becomes a gross misrepresentation of the sport. I intend on climbing Denali one day, and when a coworker asked me last week how long it would take I explained 2 - 3 weeks possibly longer, depending on pace, choice of partners, and most importantly weather. Well he caught the PBS special on National Parks last night and saw where Denali has been climbed in less than 24 hours. He comes back to work today and asks why it would take 2 - 3 weeks if someone has climbed it in less than 24 hours. I tried to explain that it is not humanly possible to my knowledge to climb to 20k in 24 hours. I tried to explain to him what altitude sickness is and the effect elevation has on the brain and body. I told him that in my honest opinion the guy had to have acclimatized for a week or more. He said that the PBS special did not mention anything like that, and that according to it, Denali has been climbed in less than 24 hours without any prior preparation such as acclimatizing. How many other people caught the PBS special and now have a false impression of mountaineering or the power and danger of Denali? Not saying its the climbers fault. Just think these "official" records should be kept differently.

Yes, mountaineering is complicated. I wouldn't expect a TV show to be able to explain all the pieces of the puzzle (and maintain interest during the whole program) to a general audience. You just helped educate the lay audience - your friend - and I hope he now knows enough to cancel his weekend trip to climb Denali. ;)
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Postby vidclimber » Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:38 am

I was reading about this the other day.

"1986 18hours 29min. Official record: time-verified by ranger personel. Ascent from basecamp (Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200') to the summit 20,320'. Total elevation gain, 13,120'. (See http://www.mountainspeedclimbing.org/controversy.htm for reports on the 2003 claimed new record which has been proven bogus based on several items: (1) climber (Chad Kellogg) was largly supported with water, food, and gear in his ascent, unlike Gary Scott who was completely self-sufficient, which is the long standing rule of speed climbing on Denali; (2) climber (Chad Kellogg's) own start timer, Lisa Roderick, stated in writing to the media several weeks after his climb that she recalled him starting at 11:00pm whereas Kellogg reported to the media that he started at 2:15am - Kellogg's reported time is 3 hours 15 minutes fsster than it really way - his entire time is called into question."

I also can remeber reading about two loggers that made it to the top in, I think 19 hours. Or some thing like that. I read it the book Surviving Denali but can not find my copy right now.
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Postby Steve Gruhn » Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:19 am

Shortly after news of Kellogg's feat became public, there was a flurry of effort to discredit his accomplishment. The source of the vast majority of this effort was a Portland, Oregon, man named Dan Howitt. Howitt regularly posted on web forums using a variety of aliases, often talking about himself in the third person. The above comments are undoubtedly his; the vitriolic writing style is all the same. Howitt was apparently miffed because Kellogg and he had been separately making very fast ascents of Mount Rainier. Upon publicizing his claim of a record time, Howitt was caught fabricating many of the details of his climb. Evidently sore about this, Howitt took to besmirching the character of Kellogg.

Cascadeclimbers.com had a detailed article on Howitt exposing the fraud a while back. Don't know if it's still available, but it provided useful background on the whole controversy.

My personal take on speed ascents is that they should be for personal goals and there should be no "official" records, rules, routes, or starting points. People will do what they feel like doing and will crow about their accomplishments if thy're proud of them. Some will stretch the truth; some will be honest. The climbing community will generally figure out what's real and whether it's noteworthy or not.

As far as whether acclimatization should be allowed or not, each climber should create and follow his own set of rules, not impose them on others.

As for me, I did not reach the summit after spending 26 days on the mountain. I turned around at around 18,900 feet.
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Postby gwave47 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:31 pm

Ok, I give. I guess if everyone is doing the same thing (acclimatizing before hand) then nobody really has an unfair advantage. I do agree that not all variables can be or should be controlled, obviously the weather is the greatest variable, and nobody can control it. If someone gets caught in a whiteout their time will surely be slower than the climber with the same experience and personal fitness that gets the perfect weather for the entire climb.

While I do see where everyone is coming from, I still pose this question, and I'm doubtful that there is a definite answer, but am welcome to anyone's estimate.

If I were going to take off work to climb Denali, and lets pretend that I am a superior athlete with a lot of climbing experience (I am not). What is the shortest amount of time I could climb Denali in? What is the least number of days I would/could need off work to climb Denali? Obviously it's not one day if I'm having to use several days to acclimatize. Does anyone have an estimate on the fastest it has been climbed including acclimatization?

Congrats to everyone who has climbed it in less than 24 hours, official or not, to even be close to 24 hours is amazing. However, I am trying to paint someone a picture of how much time it takes to be able to climb Denali including all steps of the process.

After all I'm going to have one hell of a time convincing my supervisor to give me 25 days off work, if someone is creating a buzz that I could have done it in 23 hours and am just trying to lay out of work. I live in SC, people here do not understand elevation, because most of them have never been above 3,000 feet.
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