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kmehrtens

Denali Prep

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I am looking to the future with attempting Denali in mind. I got into mountaineering a few years ago after rock climbing for 20 years or so off & on. I have climbed Mt Rainier via the DC Route (2011) and recently completed Mt Hood (2012) via the Hogsback Route on the Southside. Both of these trips were with a guide service. I am trying to plot out my next climbs with the culmination being Denali. All of the future trips will need to be with a guide service, per my wife & I's mountaineering/climbing "agreement". Plus living in the midwest, there is not a whole lot of seriously interested folks in mountain climbing. Or at least in the circles I frequent, and I have a "normal" Monday - Friday day-time job, but with the vacation time to support a couple of climbing trips a year. So just knowing that I have a "built-in" climbing partner as a guide with more mountaineering skills than me is nice (but always wanting to learn more to make myself better equipped & less of a liability).

 

This is my list:

2011 - Mt Rainier; DC Route (complete)

2012 - Mt Hood; Hogsback/Old Chute Route (complete)

2013 - Mt Adams; South Lunch Counter Route (& maybe Mt St Helens if time allows)

2014 - Mt Baker; Easton Glacier

2015 - Mt Whitney; Mountaineer's Route

2016 - Denali Prep on Mt Rainier (in March or April)

2017 - Denali; West Buttress

 

Does anyone have any other suggestions for prep climbs or any other advice?

Suggestions for Denali Guides? AMS, IMG, AAI, etc...

 

Oh, also part of the wife's climbing "agreement", all climbing must be done in the US.

 

I have posted this in both the "Newbies" & "Alaska Route Reports" forums.

 

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I suggest you don't bother with Mt Adams in 2013; does not lend itself to your objective. Instead, consider Mt Shasta or the Emmons Route on Rainier in 2013.

 

 

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choose adams over whitney.

I think you could shorten your timeline by a couple years easy. (assuming you are in reasonable shape)

2013 baker route, maybe a private with extra on expedition skills

2014 denali prep in spring and west buttress in june

 

If saving up vacation days is needed, then do the prep and the trip ion 2015. Do the prep and trip in the same year.

 

for the rest of the year, hike whatever hills you got with a full pack. maybe hump up 40 pounds of water and dump it on the summit. and go snow camping in the worst times of the year in the midwest. head out in nasty weather, hike in 5 miles or so and go camping overnight. (don't get lost, maybe even just hike along the road)

 

Make sure you are comfy with cramponing. denali prep may not be able to prepare you for that as the snow may be too soft for crampons.

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or hire a guide in NH to do the president range traverse in winter . that will teach you some cold weather survival skills.

Edited by genepires

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Gene's advice for hiring a guide to do a traverse of the Presidential Range is spot on. Look into doing a Winter climb of Rainier. Get used to shitty cold windy weather camping. Bone up on your crevasse rescue and glacier travel skills. Bon chance.

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Thanks for all of the good advice. I completely forgot about the Presidential Range. Talk about shitty weather in the winter. It also seems that the consensus about ditching Whitney and substitute with Shasta sounds like a good plan. The only real reason I originally picked it was for the higher altitude. I also thought about moving the schedule up a year or so, but I didn’t want to rush into it & not have the best chances of making to the top because of inexperience.

 

I would love to combine both the Denali Prep & Denali in the same year. That sounds like the most sense, but I’m not sure I about taking a week off in the spring & 4 weeks off in June. That seems a little aggressive. Plus I may need a little recover time?

 

The comment about trading in my wife, that’s not an option. I’m already on my second one & she supports & encourages my climbing/mountaineering habit. It’s nice to have two incomes to fund a sort-of expensive hobby. I would kind-of like to keep this one.

 

Thanks again for the advice. Keep it coming if anyone else has anything else to add.

 

Any comments or advice regarding a Denali guide service?

 

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I would love to combine both the Denali Prep & Denali in the same year. That sounds like the most sense, but I’m not sure I about taking a week off in the spring & 4 weeks off in June. That seems a little aggressive. Plus I may need a little recover time?

 

The comment about trading in my wife, that’s not an option. I’m already on my second one & she supports & encourages my climbing/mountaineering habit. It’s nice to have two incomes to fund a sort-of expensive hobby. I would kind-of like to keep this one.

 

Any comments or advice regarding a Denali guide service?

 

I would say any guide service that has been working there for a while has got their act together. AMS, alpine ascents and AAI run a good show from what I have seen. I bet the others are good too. (disclaimer....I used to work for alpine ascents)

 

She sounds like a keeper.

 

if you want experience with altitude, go for something with altitude. Maybe do aconcogua the year before denali. That is the usual peak progression.

 

If a month is not enough recovery between denali prep and denali, then maybe you are not ready for denali. The denali prep is not as intensive as you may believe. It is more skills based, not a physical test for competency. (speaking for alpine ascents some 5 years ago....maybe things have changed) It will be hard but no where as hard as climbing a high altitude mtn.

 

A little plug for alpine ascents, you may be able to do denali prep on rainier in the spring. This is obviously a great training ground in the lower 48 for something like denali.

 

sorry about plugging alpine ascents so much but I can only talk about what I know.

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I agree with Gene regarding the denali prep. You should definitely be able to do a prep course and Denali in the same year. Like he said, it's mostly gonna be skills and some climbing, but nowhere near the amount of work that Denali is. You should be able to do them in the same year if you're in shape. The 3 Rainier guide companies all do some kind of Denali Prep in the spring. I don't have any Alpine Ascents experience, but I believe Gene if he says its a good plan. I only mentioned Mountain Trip because of their visibility on the mountain and the way they usher folks through their trips. This of course is all based on my single experience this year. I was independent on the mountain so it was nice to see the guided groups from the outside. I would say that there was ONE major guide service I was extremely unimpressed with on Denali. You might be able to figure it out, but if not, PM me and I'll give you my opinion.

Edited by CaleHoopes

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I know you don't want to go out side of the U.S. but Mexico has some volcanos that reach 19000 ft. Might be a good idea to find out what 19000 ft feels like as you'll be going over 20,000 on Denali. The cost is pretty resonable and you will learn what works in your gear locker for higher altitude climbs and more importantly how your metabolism works at higher altitudes. There is alot of difference between 14,000ft. and 20,000ft.Have fun, stay safe, know where your feet are...

 

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I agree that you should skip Adams and Whitney. Neither one are very helpful in advancing you toward your objective, especially if your arrangement with your wife is to stick with guided ascents. Baker and Shasta are definitely worthy goals. If you can swing it financially and time-wise, you should consider trying both Baker and Shasta in 2013 (you could combine them in a week-long trip) and then go for the Denali prep and West Buttress climb in 2014. Your goal is accomplished much sooner and you'll save money to boot.

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I climbed the West Butress first and only time in 2002 with 2 friends, no guide service. 13 days from base camp to the summit and back down. We read a lot and practiced more. Our prep list of climbs included Liberty Ridge, Emmons and DC route on Rainier, The North Face and Sandy Glacier Headwall, Mt. Hood, plus several other day trips to practice crevasse rescue and glacier travel. The best thing you can do for yourself in my opinion is to really nail down your pack.(assuming you already know how to climb safely) By that I mean know what you like and what you need to be safe and comfortable. We packed way too much food even though everyone told us not to. Also carried too much fuel. People are dying to give that stuff away on the Mt so they don't have to carry it back out. With that said though you can't go onto the Mt expecting to survive on someone else so you really need to go out A LOT and get your sh!t dialed. Also, practice pulling a loaded sled...learn how to do it safely while crossing a glacier. Small things like weight distribution are super critical. Get high as much as you can so you know how your body responds to altitude...Are you in Oregon now? Your "location" is listed as MO. I would be happy to talk with you more....I have been thinking it may be time for a repeat myself :)

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As for the suggestion to skip some of your climbs. DON'!!!! Climb all of them. When your finished you'll have expierienced something few people have had the opportunity to enjoy. Standing near the top of the World. Climb everything you are capable of....

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On the east coast check out Katahdin in Maine. If you are hiring a guide you might as well climb something above your lead ability level and if you have been rock climbing for a while I'm sure you can swing ice tools so aim for the cilley barber route. The only way to get in there in the winter is a 13 mile hike so most people drag a sled, there's your sled dragging experience. Definitely one of the climbs I wish I had gotten on while living out east.

 

http://www.summitpost.org/cilley-barber-route/259394

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spend a week camping in a meat-locker and call it good...
And a few long soaks in a bathtub full of ice...

Don't forget to take a dump in a windstorm on a bucket with your hands frozen in ice.

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Presi Range in NH is pretty legit, though it can also be pretty cake. I did it solo in less than 24 hrs with an open bivy in mid February with perfectly clear skies. Khatadin is bigger and probably more similar to what you might encounter in Alaska.

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