Mtn Pass near Denali

Regional discussion and conditions reports for Canada and Alaska. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Canada and Alaska Climbing Partners forum.
no avatar

Posts: 2
Joined: Wed May 18, 2016 6:31 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Mtn Pass near Denali

by whburling » Wed May 18, 2016 10:20 pm

I am 71 and interested in walking to a mtn pass in the Denali Range. I would love a suggestion that is about a day’s walk to the pass….a day to enjoy the pass by walking where our interests pull us and then hiking back the following day.

I will be hiking with my son who is 45 or so and in good shape (iron man etc). We are both experienced hikers but not mountain climbers with pitons, chalks, carabiners, ropes and ice picks. I spent most of my life walking mtns in New England.

Last year, we did enjoy climbing Mt Margaret just off the Denali road and one other that I can’t remember the name of at the moment. We also went skiing in Alta Utah last winter so we do get out there when we can.
I am not out to conquer. I am out to enjoy the wilderness while I can

I would appreciate any suggestions as to a mtn pass that would offer beautiful views. When In the fall is a good time to go? I would like to get there before the mtn road closes for the season so we can spend our time on the slopes and not trudging through valley….although the valley is beautiful.

I have been trying to find weather data for the past 5 years or so relative to months august through oct so that I know what the possibilities might be for weather. I know the weather can be brutal. An experienced mountaineer gal died on Denali last year due to a persistent snow storm when we were out there hiking in the foothills in May.. It seems the government should have some good weather charts but I can't seem to find historical data.


User Avatar

Posts: 3611
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 9:33 am
Thanked: 644 times in 481 posts

Re: Mtn Pass near Denali

by ExcitableBoy » Thu May 19, 2016 6:30 am

I climbed in the Central Alaska Range a fair bit; on and around Denali, so I have flown over the terrain surrounding the mountains and glaciers. I would personally not want to hike anywhere around there. Muskeg, mosquitoes, and Grizzles oh my. Maybe the hikers on this board can offer suggestions, but I personally would not want to hike into the range.

no avatar

Posts: 2
Joined: Wed May 18, 2016 6:31 pm
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post

Re: Mtn Pass near Denali

by whburling » Thu May 19, 2016 5:53 pm

Thank you excitableboy....I appreciated your advice.

While I have no experience with Alaska, the bugs in New England are the most ferocious in the spring and die off towards fall.
Perhaps that is the case in Alaska between august and november? Anyone know?

Yes Grizzlies are an issue. When we went to the foothills of Denali last May, I noticed that all the bears we saw were in the valley feeding. I don't think we saw any at higher elevations. Perhaps in the fall, the reverse will take place. perhaps they will be seeking caves or other protection from the winter in higher elevations where protection is more abundant (ie: rock). So I am a bit concerned about bears in the fall...Anyone with experience?

I suspect that our biggest concern is the unpredictable brutal weather. that is one reason for choosing a mtn pass as a destination. It should offer greater and quicker access to at least some protection. it is also why I appealed to members of this group to point me to historical weather data from aug to nov for the past 5 years.

Thank you again for your input,

no avatar
Sunny Buns

Posts: 476
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 8:24 am
Thanked: 58 times in 52 posts

Re: Mtn Pass near Denali

by Sunny Buns » Sat May 21, 2016 9:52 am

30+ years ago, best time to go was late August after most of the bugs were gone, but now it's warmer so not sure if they'll be gone then or not. Snow fell on the park road to Wonder Lake in September, but I don't know when it closed. I would not go after mid September due to shorter days and possible colder weather.

But do ask the rangers for advice, consult their website, etc.

On bears, I'd at least take a can of bear spray for each of you. Available at REI and many other outdoor stores. ... ray&page=1

In 1975, it was -40 F on Halloween in areas around Fairbanks. :)

Cantwell is just south of the park. You can type in the date to get temperatures for past dates:
Here is Sept 16, 2000: ... .wmo=99999

Here is Oct.31, 1983: ... .wmo=99999

User Avatar

Posts: 2201
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2004 10:45 pm
Thanked: 173 times in 145 posts

Re: Mtn Pass near Denali

by nartreb » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:24 pm

Went in spring some years ago. All the mosquitoes reached adult stage on June 9th that year. Couldn't get a spoonful of soup to your mouth without catching a few in the broth.

Saw a few bears, no problems. Didn't carry bear spray.

In May, deep snow was a problem in places. Easy Pass wasn't easy. (Also Foggy Pass wasn't foggy, but Windy Pass was windy.)

We started with a two-week trek in the southern part of the park, heading south from the park entrance then heading west. At the end of that we crossed Anderson pass, camped at the foot of the pass, and walked out to the Eilson visitor center the next day.

(Another unexpected hazard: on that second-to-last day Glacier Creek ran dry for a few hours due to an ice dam upstream. Luckily it started flowing again before dinnertime, so we had plenty of water for cooking.)

I might suggest an out-and-back from Eielson with two nights camping. Camp once you're out of sight of the road, spend the next day climbing Anderson Pass with light packs, return to camp, then return to Eilson on day three. It's a pity to go all the way to Alaska and only camp for one night.

Note that due to the permit system, you'll want to have several options planned. You might not be able to camp where you want on the days you want.

Return to Canada and Alaska


  • Related topics
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests