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so i want to climb denali this coming summer...as i'm a teacher can't make it outta town and to talkeetna before june 20 or so...my partner seems to think the snow will be too shitty to land on any of the glaciers that late...is this true? does there usually occur a time each year when the planes stop landing on the glaciers? if so, what is the range of dates when this stoppage occurs?

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Mid June probably isn't too late but you should keep an eye on the snow conditions throughout winter and next spring. Not sure which route you want to try, but the crowds on the W. Buttress might be considerably less in mid June. Check with the rangers in Talkeetna, they can provide good historical data. If mid June looks sketchy on Denali, consider a route on Mount Logan or something in the St. Elias Range, the season last virtually all summer long. However, as summer progresses, so too does the chance of bad weather.

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This season they moved the landing strip up the glacier about a half mile from the standard sometime in late June I think. We flew out on July 4th but two groups flew in that day as well. One was an RMI group and the other was a private group thinking (and looking like) they were going to visit Disneyland. Disneyland pulled out the digital cameras and clicked away while rummaging through the sled pile to find comfortable sleds to sit on. RMI group arrived and immediately started caching and setting up tents.

Back to the point. The ground control dude left for good that day with us. Apparently the radio to call someone to fly in and pick you up is left in a little shack, perhaps like the radio in the Muir hut during the winter.

As I recall too, there was one other guided group at 11,000 that was ascending and three or four private groups at the 14k camp (June 30th) that were still ascending. At some point, the rumor I heard was that the rangers pull the fixed lines on the headwall and perhaps Washburn's Thumb which was to occur in early July or so. Not sure there. When we left 14k on June 30th, some of the rangers were still there.

Granted I was half-delirious and eating snow for water on the way down, but I thought the miles of flat land from Ski Hill to the landing strip were a crevasse-land-mine-hell.

Nevertheless, check with RMI. The lead guide I think was named Dave or David. Maybe he could give you some route conditions for that late in the season.

Oh yeah, the day before we flew out winds were reported at 149mph on the summit. Maybe you'll see some lanky dude with a beard, wearing tights and a Kelty Cloud pack with "Tejas" marked on it.


Oh, and your exit. I heard if the planes can't land at the landing strip, it's unusual for the NPS to give them permission to land in the park. This means a slog out to some road. Flying out, it looked like any further southerly travel on the glacier would require a life vest or inner tube as pools were forming on the glacier. Heh, heh, I'm so glad it's you and not me. [MR T]


Definitely fly in with the air service that advertises two chicks and a bird, McKinley Air Service I think. Julie, the pilot, daringly came low through the fog layer and found a way for the other pilots to come pick us up. This was after three days at the landing strip when the weather wasn't supposed to clear for another week. A different air service flew overhead earlier that day and said conditions weren't good enough to land. Thanks to Julie and her efforts, the other services came in and 20 or so of us got out that day. I heard from another group I met in Anchorage on the way out that Julie did a similar stunt a few days later which is why his group got out. You see, when the bigger air services aren't flying us in or out, they're flying sightseeing tourists. Those flights sometimes take precedence over your poh-dunk ass sitting on the landing strip waiting for a ride out. And nothing sucks more than waiting after you've been pissing in a bottle for three weeks, melting snow for water and tasting that burnt taste, and eating all the food you didn't want to eat because all the good food is gone. Not to mention everything being wet because things don't dry as quickly down low.

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Mid June might be pushing in in the Yukon too. I've always gone there early/mid May to early June. By the time we've left it's getting really warm lower down. The last trip we climbed mainly at night or early morning and had most of the route started to melt out on us. No to mention a spot of rain on the glacier (distressing when you've left your goretex at home).


Remember it's further south and much more coastal. Routes on Logan might be OK because it's higher but it would be worth doing a bit more research. The weather most certainly gets less stable.


It's also worth noting that this season on Denali was a low snow year and then exceptionally warm in May/June. By early June the rangers were saying that the Kahiltna looked to be in July condition.


[ 11-04-2002, 11:28 PM: Message edited by: Ade ]

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Many parties climb Denali in June but the bottom half of the West Buttress route turns into a pretty serious adventure in avoiding crevasses...... as the glacier melts out in summer the remains of all the traffic..... poop and pee stains can get pretty unsightly, and of course at that time of year there really isnt much night at all and the temperature variation for the evening hours may not be enough at the lower elevations to consolidate much. It all varies from year to year tho.... Talk to Paul Denkewalter at Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking in Anchorage for any really specific info.

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