Mount McKinley (Denali)

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 63.06989°N / 151.073°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 7, 2004
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring

Denali (McKinley), 6194m


Denali (McKinley), 6194m
West Buttress

Denali (Mount McKinley), 6194 m (20,320 ft)

Mount McKinley or Denali is located in the central portion of the Alaska Range, which spans much of south central Alaska. It is approximately 130 miles (209 km) north-northwest of Anchorage and 155 miles (249 km) southwest of Fairbanks. Mount McKinley has two significant summits: the South Summit is the higher one, while the North Summit has an elevation of 19,470 feet (5,934 m). The mountain is characterized by extremely cold weather, and by an unusually severe risk of altitude illness for climbers, due to not only its high elevation but also its high latitude. At the equator, a mountain as high as Mount McKinley would have 47% as much oxygen available on its summit as there is at sea level, but because of its latitude, the pressure on the summit of McKinley is even lower.

Denali is part of the 7 Summits

May 30: Anchorage - Talkeetna

We reached the small city of Talkeetna after 2 hours of bus (170km).

May 31: Flight from Talkeetna to Kalhitna Glacier (2200m)

After several hesitations due to weather instability, we finally flew from Talkeetna to Kalhitna Glacier (2200m). The small plane landed on the glacier after 40 minutes of flight in not so good weather conditions. The base camp is set at 2200m (7,200ft) on the Southeast fork of the Kalhitna Glacier.

June 1: Base Camp on Kalhitna Glacier (2200m) - Camp 1 at bottom of Ski Hill (2400m)

Early in the morning we took our tents down and buried some food and gear for the return. We packed around 40kg of gear on our sled and 20kg in our rucksack. It was snowing when we left the base camp in direction to our camp 1. We started by a descent to 2100m to reach the main fork of the glacier. Then we followed the Kalhitna glacier toward the North for 9km, avoiding large crevasses to finally reach up 2400m (7,800ft) where we set our camp 1.
It took us 4 hours from the CB to the C1.

June 2: Camp 1, Ski Hill (2400m) – Camp 3 (3400m)

We decided to skip the camp 2 and go directly from the camp 1 to the camp 3 located near Kahiltna Pass at 3400m (11,100ft). Like the day before, it was cloudy and snowy in the morning but the weather improved and was finally nice in the afternoon. We spent quite some times build solid walls around our tent in C3 to protect them from the high wind.
C1 - C3: +1175m, 5h30.

June 3: Camp 3 - Load carry to Windy Corner - Camp 3

We left the C3 at 7:30am to carry load to Windy Corner at 4120m (13,500’). Tiring climb in deep snow but at least the weather was good and hot. We buried some gear and food just after windy corner and went back down to C3.
C3 - Windy corner: +710m, 3h10. Windy corner - C3: -170m, 35min

June 4: Camp 3 - Windy Corner - Camp 4 (4330m)

We left camp 3 before 7am by -15ºC. With a lighter rucksack (15kg) we reached Windy corner in 2h20. The weather was nice and the view fantastic. We gathered our gear buried, loaded the sled and continued the climb. Pulling the sled in the long traverse was painful and it took us another 1h20 to climb +220m to reach the camp 4. The camp is comfortable and the view exceptional.
C3 - C4: +1210m, 3h40.

Story and pictures

Story and 12 pictures of Denali expedition


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