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ridgeline

Denali - Climbing Estimates

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Reading the past Climbing issue on coverage of Denali (which was quite honestly very disappointing) it puts the average up and down time of the West Butt at 22 days. The West Rib says a week of acclimating on the West Butt, plus 5-7 days of climbing the route - total of @2 weeks. Is the West Rib really (on average) a faster route than the Butt?

 

Also, for those of you that have climbed the hill - any of you go in great shape, have great weather and complete the journey in under 2 weeks?

 

I've gone from sea level up to 17K previously in @ 3 days and was "o-k". I'm wondering what amount of time to allow for (read: vaca time from work) for Denali - given good weather which i know can NEVER be predicted.

 

thanks!

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I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I'd put money on that if most folks went to 17k (or even 14k) in three days, they'd be sicker than hell and sucking oxygen in the ranger tent at Genet Basin the next day.

(remember up in Alaska, 17k seems 'higher' than near the equator due to the thinner atmosphere up near the poles)

 

I believe taking two weeks to get to the summit is the fastest pace that parks service recommends. Remember that if you climb the Rib, you'll probably need a week just to get to Genet Basin camp, then acclimate for another week up there taking day trips up to 16k and 17k before you can drop back down to the start of the Rib.

 

The group I was with had excellent weather (or rather, had good weather when we needed it) and we summited via the Butt in 14 days and were back at basecamp in 17 or 18 days.

 

If you want make sure you have time to climb the mountain regardless of what the weather decides to throw at you, pack 4 weeks worth of supplies and you'll be able to acclimate slowly and handle just about any storm. Odds are you'll be giving away a lot of food and fuel at 14k camp, but extra food/fuel is cheap insurance to having a successful trip.

 

When you went to 17k in three days before, once you were at 17k did you set up camp and stay for a week? or were you quickly on your way back to a lower altitude? remeber you could get stuck at a high altitude for a long time if you get trapped by a storm and dealing with edema high up would be awful.

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We planed to do the West Rib too, but weather sucked so we ended up soloing from 14.3K to the summit in pretty bad conditions.

The length of the slog from the landing strip to 14.3K will allow you to acclimate, esp. if you are dragging 4 weeks of supplies. I would really suggest to take it slow. If you go up high fast, then have to dig in for two or three days, you'd be in a world of hurt if you aren't properly acclimated.

I've been above 18K many times. Past experience really doesn't predict weather or not you will have a problem with the thin air. On one expedition I was at 18.3K for three days, the middle of the night I got real sick (AMS) the and had to make a fast descent back to 14K. Hasn't reoccurred in four years, but woke me up to the risk you take.

Anyway, enjoy the trip, enjoy the mountain, enjoy life...

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Mr. Random-

You soloed the ribb or the butt?

 

I'm trying to get more beta on the ribb. I have also read not to discount the butt and that it is a pretty nice route and if one goes early enough there should not be too many people.

 

Any experiences on the ribb or opinions on the butt also appreciated.

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Ridgeline - I haven't read the article, but I think maybe what they were trying to say was to spend a week acclimatizing at or above 14,000 ft. on the West Buttress. This doesn't include the week or so that it takes to reach the 14-camp. This puts the length of the a trip up the West Rib, at a more reasonable 3 weeks.

Even in good weather, I've seen fit parties take close to 3 weeks to complete the route.

 

Also remember there is a huge difference between running up to 17k tagging a summit and descending, and actually spending the night or multiple nights there. Most people can easily reach 17k (in general) in less than a week, but I'd say it takes closer to 2 weeks to be able to spend a comfortable night there.

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Twight had an excellent opinion of the butt he discussed in his article about czech direct for climbing (or rock and ice... can't recall). Something to the effect "hauling a plastic sled up a 30 degree slope... people will call anything climbing..."

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we did the w butt in 2 wks. that seemed to allow for a good amount of acclimatization. i agree w what most are saying, allow your self more time than you think. it would suck to make it to 19k (or less) and have to turn around, knowing that if you allowed a few more days acclimatizing you might have summited. as far as twights comment...you can get blown off that mountain and die even on a 30 degree slope. dont underestimate it just cause its the standard rt.

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Awwww, what does joepuryear know about climbing in Alaska?

BTW, I saw your photo on the cover of the BD Catalogue, very cool!

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Me too...although I find his public denigration and criticism of a moderate route and it's associated zoo-social scene a tad ironic when those very same things were fully used to benefit his climb, both physically and psychologically.

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Been up that side twice. First time we spent 4wks - 10 days waiting for weather. Second time, rt in 2 wks - practicaly perfect weather.

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I agree with him for the most part.

 

Great, then you are both childesh for belittling other's accomplishments. i would rather see a guy who smiles his ass off while scrambling up peaks and enjoying the outdoors and calling that climbing than mr. twight who seems to be embittered at the world all the time.

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In 2000 we summited on day 15, after losing 3 days (1 at 10k, 1 in the basin & 1 at 17k) to weather, back at the airstrip on the evening of day 17.

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I've gone from sea level up to 17K previously in @ 3 days and was "o-k". I'm wondering what amount of time to allow for (read: vaca time from work) for Denali - given good weather which i know can NEVER be predicted.

 

 

I know some folks that have done it in two weeks. I must share that the most disappointing climb I made was Denali. I set myself up with strictly 24 days from leaving Seattle to being back. A little bit of weather at 14,3 and again a week at 17,2. We had to bail to get back and several groups made it up the next few days after we left. If your doing vacation scheduleing tight is thumbs_down.gifthumbs_down.gif

 

I'll be back next year though.

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I hauled 25 days worth of food and fuel to be able to wait out any weather. Then we got lucky with the weather by heading up W. Butt when everyone else was coming down from high camp. We were away from Talkeetna for ten days. I would have preferred another day at high camp to acclimate but weather dictated the schedule. We came home early and suprised everyone. Lots of folks bail after a couple days of weather up high - and will give you fuel and food they do not want to carry out of camp. Next time I will bring 2 weeks of supplies and try not to use a sled. It also would have been more fun on skiis instead of snowshoes. bigdrink.gifbigdrink.gif

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I've gone from sea level up to 17K previously in @ 3 days and was "o-k".

 

thanks!

 

I met a guy who went with that approach my first day there. He soloed from Kahiltna BC to Summit and back to BC in 5-6 days because he wanted to take full advantage of a good weather window.

 

I was so impressed hearing about it that I took his picture when he got back to the Kahiltna...

 

Link to picture

Not a great pic but he is the one at the end of the rope. wave.gif

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Took 28 days wort of food and fuel and made the summit on day 14, back at bc on day 16. Gave away around 60 lbs. of food and fuel at 14k. Parties and played for a week in AK after wards. Made for a nice transition back to reality. Take the time and don't spend all that money only to have to turn around b/c you didn't plan enough time or bring enough food and fuel.

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haha Griz. Great point.

 

I completely agree with most of your thoughts on allowing for time and acclimating. I wasn't trying to imply I would not do this (allow re-reading my post, it does sound that way).

Anyway - maybe I'll see some of you up there.

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“Talk Does Not Cook Rice”

 

Ancient Chinese Proverb

 

Edited by Stanley

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Reading the past Climbing issue on coverage of Denali (which was quite honestly very disappointing) it puts the average up and down time of the West Butt at 22 days. The West Rib says a week of acclimating on the West Butt, plus 5-7 days of climbing the route - total of @2 weeks. Is the West Rib really (on average) a faster route than the Butt?

 

Also, for those of you that have climbed the hill - any of you go in great shape, have great weather and complete the journey in under 2 weeks?

 

I've gone from sea level up to 17K previously in @ 3 days and was "o-k". I'm wondering what amount of time to allow for (read: vaca time from work) for Denali - given good weather which i know can NEVER be predicted.

 

thanks!

 

The climbing article could be a little better. I think the average is probably about 18 days for many parties. 22-25days tops.

 

I've guided the rib and the buttress a couple of times. The rib seems to take a couple days longer than the buttress on average, but we climb the rib capsule style (we take 1500' of fixed line) so that could be part of it.

 

For climbing the rib, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to take a week to reach 14k, rest for several days, and do some acclimatization cruises to 17k, then dash down to 8k on the Kahiltna, grab your food and climbing gear stash that you should have left there, and head up the NE fork of the Kahiltna, and climb the route in alpine style in 3-6 days. If you do it this way, you might want to also leave a food/fuel cache at 16,300' on the rib, since it is easy to access from the 14k buttress camp in a few hours.

 

Besides Colby Coombs' AK guidebook, there is also useful info in the Chip Faurot letter and Michael Covington letter regarding routefinding in the NE fork, and tips for climbing the rib. You can find these letters in the filing cabinet in the Talkeetna Ranger station, but they are deteriorating mimographs. I have them typed up as word documents, along with my guiding notes. PM me and I can email them to you if you are interested. cheers,

-DT

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