Denali - West rib

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gibbonpower

 
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Denali - West rib

by gibbonpower » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:30 am

Is there anyone who has climbed Denali West Rib and knows if there is any good anchoring opportunities in the first couloir when climbing alpinestyle?
If I understood everything right, it's many expeditions that use their own fixed ropes, wondering if it is for safety / speed's sake or whether it is long way between any potential anchoring places. Assuming that the snow / ice conditions do not always allow good anchor construction in the Couloir.

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Re: Denali - West rib

by bdynkin » Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:54 pm

I climbed the West Rib to about 16K with a team of 4 friends, alpine style. The first couloir felt technically easy. It was mostly poor quality but relatively low angle ice with little snow. I led it and placed just a few screws per pitch even though I'm not a strong climber at all. I could of placed as many screws as I wanted in that couloir. Obviously, things change dramatically form year to year but I understand that this couloir is usually ice and not snow.

BTW, the hardest technical pitch was a rock band above our "bergshrund" camp at around 14K. It felt like 5th class in boots and with pack, looked vertical, but was probably much easier. We all ascended the fixed line that was put up by our leader (very strong climber). I'm not sure that we absolutely had to climb this rock pitch - maybe we could traverse around it on the snow. There were other places that were "interesting". So again, I don't think that the couloir was the crux of the route.

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Re: Denali - West rib

by Alasdair » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:26 am

There is no good way to answer this question, as it will depend totally on the snow conditions when you are there. I will say that most of the climbs I have done up there take pickets fairly well. If the snow is too soft for that then you might have to use snow seat belays, but if you have snow that soft chances are you will be moving pretty damn slow as you wallow, or you wont be there due to avalanche conditions.

Take everything you need to 14k and figure it out when you are there.
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Re: Denali - West rib

by Kiefer » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:44 am

I've wondered a little bit about pro in this access couloir myself and how steep the thing would average. It's one thing to downclimb neve or firn for double-carrys but if I don't have to, I really don't want to double carry on ice. If possible, I'd rather move up it in a single carry. But everything is conditions dependent.
We're attempting the Rib as well leaving Denver May 17th-ish. I figure with a acclimation trip/gear cache up to 14K camp, we could climb the Rib in a version in between expedition and alpine.

I guess my main concern on this route is not really the route itself...it's the approach. What did you guys think of trekking up the NE Fork? I haven't even been up it (NE Fork) yet and it scares the shit out of me. How 'safe' would you say your camps were?

That rock pitch also intrigues me. It would be a nice touch/alternative to that snow clouloir to climbers right.

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Re: Denali - West rib

by wallspeck » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:57 am

This might seem crazy alarmist, but the NE fork probably sees one big avalanche per week; big enough to cover you. I was in there in 2001 and saw one from Cassin ledge which filled the upper half of the NE fork bowl (above the icefall gauntlet) and which covered all our tracks.
I don't think the lower part of the NE fork is so terribly dangerous based on debris, but the upper fork certainly is. If you were to go and sit in the middle of the upper NE fork for 24 hours, that would probably be about like playing an honest game of Russian roulette with a 1 in 6 or 8 chances of losing.
Of course you aren't sitting there.... you're running like hell in the middle of the night and only in very nice weather and it's only 2 or 3 hours (hopefully) in the truly dangerous section.
And that's our nice way of pretending that it's an acceptable risk. Oh well. Perhaps it is. I mean, I did it and so have hundreds of others.
So do the math.... 4 hours in the death zone is 1/6th of a day.... so 6 of these trips is like a day in the zone... and if there is one big avalanche every week... thats 6x7= 42 ... so one group out of every 42 will get caught... but hedge your bets with good weather and middle of the night travel and it increases your odds by a factor of 4... so now it's one group in 168 that dies.
And that's probably about correct. Way, way, WAY better than Everest!!!!!!!!!! Yes?

I

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Re: Denali - West rib

by bdynkin » Mon Nov 15, 2010 3:41 pm

Kiefer Thomas wrote:I figure with a acclimation trip/gear cache up to 14K camp, we could climb the Rib in a version in between expedition and alpine. .


Go to at least 17K for acclimation if you want to move alpine. We first summited via WB and then did the WR. After that I did not even remember that we we actually at altitude on the WR. Takes an iron will to do it though. :lol:

Kiefer Thomas wrote:I guess my main concern on this route is not really the route itself...it's the approach. What did you guys think of trekking up the NE Fork? I haven't even been up it (NE Fork) yet and it scares the shit out of me. How 'safe' would you say your camps were?


Well, the route should be you concern as well... :wink: But anyway, why would you camp in the NE fork? Go from 7.8K to the 11K camp at the base of the route in one go, on a cold night, without prior snowfall. To give you an idea: we started around 2am and were at the 11K camp around 10am. There was no boot track through the NE fork. Snowsoes were essential. The upper icefall on the NE fork was a scary and improbable maze and we had to find a path through it but it was walking, not climbing. The 11K camp at the base of the route is safe and utterly beautiful. We were fairly fit but far from supeatheltes and not that young. Went pretty light - I'd say 40-50 lbs packs. But wallspeck is of course right, it's a gamble so stack your odds in your favor.

Kiefer Thomas wrote:That rock pitch also intrigues me. It would be a nice touch/alternative to that snow clouloir to climbers right.
I don't remember a colouir to climbers right, just a loaded snow slope that was probably too dangerous to climb. That rock pitch was probably on route - I saw a piece of old webbing in one place.

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Re: Denali - West rib

by Kiefer » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:56 pm

Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome advice, Wallspeck and bdynkin!!
You've both given me some eye-opening advice and planning details...some of which I hadn't considered.

This is the stuff that makes SP such an awesome place for beta! :D

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Re: Denali - West rib

by gibbonpower » Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:33 pm

I really want to thank everyone for your extensive comments. Always good to benefit from others' experience in the planning stage. The final rating will be determined on site.

Can only agree !! "This is the stuff that makes SP such an awesome place for the beta!"

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Re: Denali - West rib

by bdynkin » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:25 pm

Vitaliy M wrote:God...you found people who would summit and climb all the way down to the base?
Well, the years of well developed socialism in the USSR probably did something peculiar to our brains. We summited via the WB fairly fast, in 10 days or so and still had time and I guess some energy left for the WR.

Vitaliy M wrote:IF I go there this year, we are planning to do WB (main objective) and do the West Rib cut from 14K camp if time allows..
You mean you want to climb the upper West Rib? Or just hike to the West Rib via the cut for a look-see?

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Re: Denali - West rib

by Alasdair » Thu Nov 18, 2010 4:47 pm

FortMental wrote:I've read accounts that approach the bottoms of the West Rib and Cassin via the "Edge of the World" shortcut. I remember seeing footprints on the East Fork from the edge of the world, and despite the initial shock of going over that edge, it's (supposedly) not too bad. Check Cascade Climbers for more beta.


Yep this basically downclimbs the lower west rib. It is pretty doable if you can kick steps. If it was icy it would be a bad idea. It is usually used to get to the base of the Cassin.
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Re: Denali - West rib

by Damien Gildea » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:39 am

Alasdair wrote: Yep this basically downclimbs the lower west rib. It is pretty doable if you can kick steps. If it was icy it would be a bad idea. It is usually used to get to the base of the Cassin.


I know of three different variations that have been used to descend from the WB14K camp to access the base of the Japanese Couloir on the Cassin: Mugs Stump apparently skied the lower west rib in 1991, Artun & Haley descended the 'Seattle' variant to the lower west rib in May 2010, and a friend of mine used a different route (the Canadian?) in May 2003. On the latter occasion my friend and his partner encountered very deep snow and the descent took more than a day, meaning by the time they reached the base of the JC they had used more of their food, fuel and energy than anticipated, so they ended up bailing from the top of the JC. I think you would really want to do a good recce of any such descent, before committing to it. Getting back up may not be easy, and exiting via the lower NE fork may not be much fun either.

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Re: Denali - West rib

by Kiefer » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:53 am

I called up the NPS Station in Talkeetna last week. The permit fee is still $200 USD for the upcoming 2011 season.

Vitaliy M wrote:By the way did you guys figure out what is going out with the permit thing? I read that it will be 500$ per person, but on NPS Denali page they are still listing old price, and when we registered etc we signed an agreement with old price listed...

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Re: Denali - West rib

by Daria » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:33 pm

Shane R. wrote:
Vitaliy M wrote:
bdynkin wrote:We first summited via WB and then did the WR. After that I did not even remember that we we actually at altitude on the WR. Takes an iron will to do it though. :lol:


God...you found people who would summit and climb all the way down to the base? That is A LOT of willpower. IF I go there this year, we are planning to do WB (main objective) and do the West Rib cut from 14K camp if time allows..Something tells me majority of the "team" might say "go fk urself, we are going down to drink beer"



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