Yesterday we introduced the Seven Sisters to you – to remind you this is the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and amongst the mountaineering community considered to be a blue ribbon achievement to rank right up there with the greats.
We talked specifically about the America’s highest mountain – Aconcagua – located in Argentina, South America and so today we will travel north to North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, in Alaska.
Denali – The High One – is the Native (Athabascan) American word for North America’s highest peak and this is where Fahrenheit and Celsius meet secretly at night at -40 degrees.
Mt. McKinley has been the goal of aspiring high altitude climbers since it was first climbed in 1913. Its reputation as a highly coveted summit derives from its location near the Arctic Circle and the Pacific Ocean giving it some of the most ferocious weather in the world. Because of its weather and ease of access, some climbers use McKinley as a training ground for climbing the 8,000 metre peaks of the Himalayas.
The fact that the West Buttress route is not technically difficult should not obscure the need to plan for extreme survival situations. Of course, some climbers manage to get up and down in a perfectly nice but rare period of good weather. However they are the lucky ones – the West Buttress route is a terribly underestimated climb.
Climbers interested in more detailed discussions of Denali’s routes should consult HIGH ALASKA or the MOUNT MCKINLEY CLIMBER’S HANDBOOK.
Snow and weather conditions for climbing Denali are usually best from May through July. Colder minimum temperatures and strong northwest winds commonly occur in May. Winter climbing in Denali borders on the ridiculous more because of its unfathomable risks than because of its mountaineering challenge. Some of the world’s best climbers have either disappeared or perished form literally being flash frozen.
In the video below from DavidWhitingOutdoors an expedition to summit Denali is described and shown, starting at the 17,000 foot base camp and finishing with the summit of Denali at 20,320 feet – the highest peak in North America.
Where shall we go tomorrow – tune in to discover!