The Cassin Ridge

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JLongcor

 
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The Cassin Ridge

by JLongcor » Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:05 pm

I'm planning a trip to Denali in May 2011 and hope to climb the Cassin Ridge. Any advice on logistics, equipment, or training for this challenging route? Any first hand info on Denali?

Thanks!

I submitted a video about the trip "The Cassin Ridge" at http://www.nols.edu/contest/

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ScottyP

 
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by ScottyP » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:41 pm

A little Beta here. Like Fort says, get the guidebook and TRAIN HARD!
http://mountaintrip.com/Alaska/denali_cassin.html

I will be back in May again but opting for either the WB again or the Rib.

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Steve Gruhn

 
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by Steve Gruhn » Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:08 pm

My feeling (but what do I know?) is that if you don't have any experience on Mount McKinley and you're asking on a forum like summitpost.org for information on a route as demanding as the Cassin Ridge, you'll probably be better off trying the West Buttress.

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ExcitableBoy

 
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by ExcitableBoy » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:51 pm

It not for me say whether you have the chops to climb Cassin, but if you have not been to the Alaska Range before or other large ranges you may be in for a bit of sticker shock. Some good folks to talk to:

Joe Puryear. joepuryear at hotmail dot com. Super nice guy, author of an excellent guide book to the Range. Between him and his frequent partner, Mark Westman, they have perhaps more Alaska Range experience than anyone currently climbing.

Mark Westman. Also a super nice guy. Don't have his email address handy, but if you call Talkeetna Air Taxi they can hook you up. He is married to Paul Rodericks sister, Basecamp Lisa and frequenty works at TAT.

Colin Haley. colinhaley at attbi dot com (this may be an old address) Also a super nice guy. He recently soloed the Cassin very nearly beating Mug Stump's record. He will be able to give you some good advice.

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JJBrunner

 
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by JJBrunner » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:24 pm

Have you seen this? You have to agree to see the pdf topo
http://www.supertopo.com/disclaimer.htm ... akprev.pdf

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James_W

 
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by James_W » Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:57 am

I hope you are leading 5.10 trad and WI4 multipitch

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James_W

 
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by James_W » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:41 am

Hence the experience leading at a higher rock and ice level to prepare yourself for the challenges on the mountain. For example it is recommended to lead fast at a 5.7 trad to tackle Sir Donald (5.4 III)
Last edited by James_W on Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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JJBrunner

 
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by JJBrunner » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:44 am

I think he's tryin' to say it's an apples and oranges sort of thing...

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bird

 
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by bird » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:37 pm

Heck yeah! Go for it! Train your ass off. Climb pinnacle buttress then climb pinnacle gully, then do the buttress again...in January. If you put your heart into it you can do it.
Or you may get off the plane and try the west rib instead... But who cares, dream big.

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Snowslogger

 
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by Snowslogger » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:23 am

Steve Gruhn wrote:My feeling (but what do I know?) is that if you don't have any experience on Mount McKinley and you're asking on a forum like summitpost.org for information on a route as demanding as the Cassin Ridge, you'll probably be better off trying the West Buttress.


Or as a friend of mine said, "it's never a bad thing to know the descent route"!

Of course a lot of people who do the Cassin climb the West Buttress or another route first to acclimatize.

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Steve Larson

 
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by Steve Larson » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:06 am

FortMental wrote:
James_W wrote:I hope you are leading 5.10 trad and WI4 multipitch


Neither of these will amount to much. The Cassin is leading up to 5.7 rock, with many mixed sections:

At altitude.

In Zero degree cold.

With a pack.

In plastic boots.

With minimal gear.



All the more reason to follow James' advice...

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peladoboton

 
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by peladoboton » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:59 am

in my two brief trips up to that park, niether on Denali but both right next to it, it has the ability to loosen the bowels of the greatest climbers on earth. i watched it do so once to one such who was our guide, once when i was so new to alpinism that i hadn't a clue how far up shit creek we were (in a place that was the more mellow and inviting for three parties before us and two that came after due to how fast conditions can change).

i second that james is right.

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wallspeck

 
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by wallspeck » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:25 am

JLo, I went to your club web site and read a bit.
It sounds like you have your winter camping skills down. It also sounds like you can climb ice quite well. And your attitude is great.
So here's my 2 cents.
I went to climb the Cassin in 1988. We acclimatized by going up the West Buttress to the summit. Went a bit fast I think (10 days from landing strip) and I got terribly hypoxic on summit ridge. But then, goofing off at 14,500' while skiing below the headwall, my partner tore a tendon loose in his thumb and we were done.
HOWEVER!!!... I'm convinced that had that not happened, we would have climbed it.
Why? Attitude.
We were having a great time, loving being on the mountain, loving being in whiteouts, laughing about the cold, and we were not intimidated by the mythology of the route.
I returned as an old guy (age 44) in 2001 with what I thought was a great team.
We skipped the acclimatizing and just went for it.
Got up to Cassin Ledge, and the next day, on the 3rd pitch up, belaying literally only 75 feet below where the ice starts on the long ice ridge, my partner (who was doing a sketchy lead through the frozen rocks) got a bit spooked. It was snowing and spindrift was washing over us (I was LOVING IT!!!!!) and he came down and said he thought the route was too hard, conviced my other partner the same, refused to allow me to try the pitch, refused to remove his pack for the short 75 feet to the ice, and well, we were done.
I was SO BUMMED.
Ultimately, most retreats are because you don't want to be there anymore.

I was guiding a group on the West Buttress in 1999, and we encountered two young men descending the ridge below the high camp. They had technical tools, and they looked beat in a different sort of way than the West Buttress does you in.
I asked what they had come up and it was the Cassin.
They had gone straight for it. No acclimatizing. Spent 10 days. Had a great time.

It's a long, classic, moderately hard route, but doable by any well seasoned winter mountaineer with the right attude.
It's even been done in bunny boots!!! And guys have carried ski's up it.
So don't get intimidated.

Now for the other side of the pep talk.
It involves LONG days of utter exhaustion. You must have good ice climbing skills on 60 degree IRON HARD boiler plate ice hidden below 8 inches of snow which is hard to see because of all the spin drift and your pack is pulling your shoulders down backward like a linebacker is tugging on you and your calves are cramping and your fingers are battered and cracked and cold and god are you hungry and you've got a headache and your partner is not watching you because he's hiding from the death plates of ice you're kicking out and over him and you know you need psychological help because even though you want to vomit there is something making you smile because you love being there.
And if you can relate to the above paragraph because you've lived it....
then you don't need any advice on this route.
And if you can't relate... there is no advice anyone can give you worth shit.

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James_W

 
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by James_W » Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:33 am

Looks like a strong group (VICE)

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JLongcor

 
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Re: The Cassin Ridge

by JLongcor » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:44 pm

Thanks for all the info and advice. I really appreciate your feedback. I'll do my best to use the resources you provided and work my hardest to prepare. I'm already training every free moment of every day. See ya out there.

JL


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