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Denali / Mount McKinley

A mountain of extremes.

The highest mountain of North America, the most northern mountain above 5.000m and the world’s coldest mountain.

Initially named after the 25th US-president William McKinley, in 2015 the mountain officially has been given its original, indigenous name “Denali”. And he truly lives up to his name which translates to “the Great”, rising up to respectable 6.193 m. And with a topographic prominence of significant 6.144 m, the Denali towers over the wild tundra of Alaska. No wonder, that the sheer sight of this colossus gives you goosebumps and reminds you of the pristine beauty of our planet.
Despite its sheer beauty, there are also lots of dangers lurking around this mountain. Only 250 km from the polar circle it can get quite cold with temperatures dropping below -30°C. Strong winds are also one of the characteristics of the most northern mountain above 5.000m, which contributes to its reputation as the coldest mountain in the world. Only the peaks of the Antarctica can keep up with these temperatures.

Despite these extreme weather conditions, Denalis’ first ascend already took place in 1913 and since that, the mountain has become a mecca for adventurers an mountaineers who wish to prove their skills.

And this is where we enter the game. We want to take you to highest point of North America. Our expedition leads over the standard route “West Buttress”, which is technically moderate but still demands respect. The cold, storms and the wind-chill effect are the essential factors that make this expedition dangerous –equipment and know-how like in the Antarctica are necessary to defy these environmental influences. Those who make it to the top, will be rewarded with breathtaking views and the unique and untouched nature of Alaska which spreads over miles to all sides. Another memory that will imprint itself in the mind. A memory of the wild, rough and beautiful Alaska. A memory of “the Great”.

Adventure Factor spirited
Experience / Emotion mindblowing
Fitness / Struggle challenging
Risk few objective hazards
Comfort simple

Highlights:

  • Highest peak of North America
  • Wild beauty of Alaska
  • Technical moderate mountain
  • 1 guide : 2 climbers – ratio

Trip dates:

Booking code:-
Minimum members:-
Price per person: 0

Denali is a big, serious mountain with big mountain weather, geography, and acclimatization issues. The following itinerary represents a basic outline of what could happen on a given day during the course of a Denali expedition. Many factors can, and likely will, contribute to cause the following schedule to change. Our guides know the mountain and may elect to stray from this itinerary in order to give you the best possible shot at getting to the summit.

Planned schedule:

 

 

 

1. - 3. day: Travel to Basecamp

1. Day: Arrival in Anchorage
Pick up from the airport and rest of the day to relax.

2. Day: Meet in Anchorage.
Our Team Meetings are generally scheduled at 10 A.M. for an expedition orientation and equipment check. This is a very important meeting, which all climbers must attend. Be sure to arrive in Anchorage early enough to make the meeting, which may require arriving a day in advance. Our trip fee includes two night’s accommodation at the Lakefront Anchorage (formerly the Millennium Alaska Hotel), conveniently located and offers free airport transfers.

3. Day: Travel to Talkeetna and fly to the glacier
We provide transportation to Talkeetna for all of our Denali climbers, using our own vans and trailers so we are not tied to a third-party’s schedule. The drive takes a bit over two hours, and we’ll stop for coffee and snacks along the way. Once in Talkeetna, we’ll need to unload, organize, and weigh all of our equipment and supplies in preparation for our flight to the glacier. We will also finish the registration process with the National Park Service and attend a pre-climb orientation provided by one of the NPS Climbing Rangers. After finalizing all the NPS admin steps, we’ll fly to the glacier, weather permitting. Once on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, we’ll be busy establishing our camp for the night.

4. - 14. day: Acclimatisation and Ascent

4. Day: Single carry to 2.380m Camp 1
Departing base camp, we’ll drop down the infamous Heartbreak Hill and onto the broad Kahiltna Glacier. Our goal will be to move camp to about 2.380m, near the junction with the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. This is a moderately tough day of about 5 miles and is a good shakedown for the upcoming days. Throughout the expedition we will typically follow the “climb high, sleep low” technique for better acclimatization; however, the altitude difference between Base Camp and 2.380m Camp is minimal enough to permit us to generally “single-carry” this stretch. On the late May and June expeditions, we may climb early in the morning to avoid excessive heat and soft snow conditions on the lower glacier.
**Quick Stats: 8 km with 365m of elevation gain Climbing time: ~ 4.5 – 6 hours

5. Day: Haul loads up to Kahiltna pass.
We’ll head out of 2.380m Camp and carry loads up the 548m Ski Hill. Several options exist for campsites between 2.740 & 3.350m, depending upon weather, snow conditions, and team strength. This is a moderately difficult carry of 11- 14,5km round trip, with 600 – 900m of elevation gain and a return to 2.380m Camp for the night.
**Quick Stats: 12.87 km round trip, with 670m of elevation gain and loss Climbing time: ~ 6 – 8 hours

6. Day: Move everything to Camp 2
This is an incredibly beautiful location that basks in alpenglow when the sun travels around the north side of the mountain.
**Quick Stats: 7.64 km one way, with 1036m of elevation gain Climbing time: ~ 5.5 – 7 hours

7. Day: An “active rest day” for acclimatisation
We pick up the cache we left near Kahiltna Pass.
**Quick Stats: 2.4 km round trip, with 365m of elevation loss and gain Climbing time: 1.5 hours round trip

8. Day: Windy Corner.
Steep snow climbing up the 304m high Motorcycle Hill rewards climbers with spectacular views. The total distance for the day is about four miles round trip with a little over 609m of elevation gain. Fun climbing with crampons and ice axe gets you around Windy Corner where the upper mountain comes into view. Have your camera ready!
**Quick Stats: 6.43 km with 700m of elevation gain Climbing Time: ~ 6-7 hours round trip

9. Day: Ascent to “Genet Basin“ (4.350m).
This is usually a long, hard day. Our next camp is generally located at the well-equipped 4.350m camp in the expansive Genet Basin. Loads are getting lighter and the air is getting thinner. Upon arrival, everyone will need to pitch in to build our camp, as we need to fortify our tents due to the possibility of severe winds.
**Quick Stats: 4 km with 914m of elevation gain Climbing time: ~ 5 – 7 hours

10. Day: Another “active rest day,”
The team will descend from Genet Basin to the Windy Corner cache and bring everything up to 4.330m. We’ll spend the afternoon going over climbing techniques that we will use in the upcoming days.
**Quick Stats: 1.6 km round trip, with 213m of elevation loss and gain Climbing time: ~ 1.5 hours round trip

11. Day: “Headwall“ to the ridge.
Our goal is to cache supplies up on the ridge above us and return to 4.330m. Climbing up the “Headwall” (the section of route with fixed lines running from 4.720m – 4.900m) with a heavy pack makes this one of the more strenuous days of the trip because of the steep terrain, heavy pack and thinning air. The views from the ridge can be as breathtaking as the rarefied air!
**Quick Stats: 3.8km round trip, with 670m of elevation gain and loss Climbing time: ~ 5-7 hours

12. Day: Rest day – Acclimatisation

13. Day: Move to High Camp (5.250m).
Weather and team strength will again determine this decision. While there is a camp site at 4.900m, it is very exposed, so we usually push for the 4.240m site which is more secure and the better choice for camp. This is a really tough day, as our loads are big and some of the the terrain we will negotiate is steep. Rewards for our work are in the awesome climbing along the ridge. Weaving in and out of the rocks and occasionally walking a knife edged stretch, combined with big exposure, make this day one of the most memorable of the route.
**Quick Stats: 3.21km with 914m of elevation gain Climbing time: ~ 6 – 8 hours

14. Day: Rest day
We usually take a rest day before attempting the summit if circumstances allow.

15. day: Summit

15. Day: Summit day.

It is important to be patient on a big peak like Denali and we will only try for the summit when the weather is good; meaning mostly clear and calm. The round trip climb will take eight to twelve hours or more.
**Quick Stats: 8km round trip, with 914m of elevation gain and loss Climbing time: ~ 9 – 12+ hours

 ***The weather needs to be good and everyone attempting the summit must have demonstrated that they can reasonably give it a shot. This is often the most grueling day of the expedition (some climbers say of their lives!). The guides have the ultimate decision as to when the team will make a summit bid. The guides also have the discretion to decide that a team member has not shown that he or she is capable to make a summit bid. Such occurrences are rare; but remember getting everyone home healthy is primary concern.***

Day 16 - 26: Descent and Return Journey

16.-17. Day: Descent.
The descent from High Camp takes from one to two days, depending on the team’s strength and motivation to get home. Weather dictates when we can fly out to Talkeetna for food and showers. Not much beats a steak and salad at the West Rib Tavern after working hard on Denali!

18.-24. Day: Reserve days.
We build seven “contingency days” into our schedule. Denali has a well deserved reputation for arctic weather and it is common to take weather days at some point on the mountain.

25. Day: Back to Anchorage.
We will provide group transportation back to Anchorage and assist in making any necessary lodging reservations; however, lodging after the climb is your responsibility. As we cannot predict when we will come off the mountain, we cannot make arrangements for lodging ahead of time.

26. Day: Journey home.
With lots of unforgettable memories, we´ll make our way home.

check_circle_outline  Included:

  • Organization of the expedition
  • Guidance of a local, English-speaking, experienced guide (our local partner Mountain Trip requires any Guide wishing to lead a Denali climb to have 5 previous expeditions on the mountain – most do have 10+)
  • 1 mountain guide : 2 climbers – ratio
  • Up to two nights lodging (shared room) at the Lakefront Hotel in Anchorage before the climb
  • Airport transfer as provided by the Lakefront Hotel
  • Team transportation in Anchorage for last minute shopping on the day of your Team Meeting
  • Round trip, scheduled group transportation between Anchorage and Talkeetna
  • Scheduled flights between Talkeetna and Base Camp
  • All food while on the mountain
  • All group equipment (tents, kitchen, ropes, sleds, snow pickets, shovels, group med kit, satellite phone, GPS tracker, etc)
  • Assistance arranging for post-climb activities in Alaska
  • When booking with us as an Austrian travel agent, you receive further advantages as for example: flight offer and – booking (if required), unlimited pre-trip access to our office sources (European time zone), etc.

highlight_off  Not included:

  • International flights to/from Anchorage (We can provide you with an offer)
  • personal clothing and equipment
  • Excess baggage fees on included flights
  • Any additional lodging including post expedition lodging.
  • Meals while not on the mountain
  • Mountaineering special use fee ($275 for climbers 24 years old and younger, $375 for older climbers) and Denali National Park entrance fee ($15) paid to the National Park Service at the time you register for your individual climbing permit.
  • ESTA Travel Authorization USA or visa fees
  • Travel and/or rescue insurance
  • Costs incurred due to evacuation or unplanned departure from the mountain due to illness or other problems
  • Costs incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Mountain Trip
  • Customary gratuities for guides (around US$ 1.000-1.500)
  • Costs as a result of force majeure
  • Transfer from the hotel to the airport post-expedition
  • All the services not specifically mentioned above in “included services” section.

 

info  General Infos

An expedition to high altitudes still presents an enormous challenge despite modern equipment and tactics. Besides technical and fitness requirements, the high altitude still poses the largest hurdle. That is why we place great emphasis on prudent, slow acclimatization.

Weather and conditions on the mountain can lead to program or route changes. Participation in the expedition lies in your own individual responsibility. Furtenbach Adventures assumes no liability for accidents, damages or loss of materials.

If you are not sure whether taking part in an expedition is the right thing for you, feel free to contact Lukas Furtenbach at Tel +43 512 204134 or per email [email protected] for an answer to this question during a personal interview!

This package in general is not suitable for persons with reduced mobility.

Note: This expedition is run by Mountain Trip Alaska, LLC, (135 W colorado Ave, Telluride CO 81435, phone: +1 970 369 1153) an authorized concessionaire of Denali National Park and Preserve (tour operator). Furtenbach Adventures only acts as an austrian partner and travel Agent.

language  Entry Requirements

Passport and Visa Regulations

Swiss or EU citizens:

USA: When entering the country, you need a 6 months valid passport. For the USA a primary ESTA registration is required.

Information on recommended vaccines and health regulations:
http://www.who.int/ith/en/

More detailed information regarding entry, visa and health requirements for this travel destination will be provided once you’ve communicated your nationality.

 

https  Insurance

We strongly recommend taking out a travel insurance (including trip cancellation, interruption, medical and luggage insurance) For this journey, the Global Rescue Signature Travel Insurance is suitable. The price of the insurance depends on the trip and the personal data of the traveller. We happily make you an offer after booking or upon request.

To cover search and rescue costs in the mountains, we ask our expedition participants to take out a “medical only”-membership at Global Rescue. This membership can be concluded here before departure: https://ss.globalrescue.com/partner/furtenbach/. Further information are provided after your booking.

 

work  Equipment

You need to bring your own personal equipment including a sleeping bag with a comfort zone for -20° C. Please consider that the temperature is likely to drop below -30° C, and a strong win-chill-effect and storms can occur. Following your booking we will send you a detailed equipment list. We will be happy to advise you personally during the selection and purchase of required equipment. With years of expedition experience, we know what has proved its worth and what not.

 

insert_chart_outlined  Difficulty/ Technique

The Denali does not present any big technical climbing challenges but due to the extreme cold and the possibility of heavy storms it should not be underestimated.

The ascent always lies in the participant‘s personal responsibility, while led by the mountain guide and expedition leader. Participants must be able to move safely and independently in mixed terrain (rock, snow, ice) and – if required – independently build rope teams under the guidance of the mountain guide. Cooperation, camaraderie and support on the mountain increases the chances of success for all. The guide is there to provide guidance for the whole group, the possibilities for him to respond to individual needs is limited. It is imperative that participants adhere to the instructions and decisions made by the mountain guide. Regardless, each participant must know their own physical limits, and be able to make a timely decision to turn back.

 

perm_identity  Physical fitness

A key success factor in expeditions is being in good shape. Train in the months before the expedition! Several hour climbs with a backpack and around 1000 meters per day should not be a problem for you. Mental training is also advised for this very challenging expedition. We will gladly provide individual advice on how to best prepare yourself mentally and physically for an expedition!

 

local_hospital  Health

We recommend that each participant undergoes a medical examination prior to the expedition. Good health is a prerequisite for participation. Particularly important is a visit to the dentist because previously unnoticed dental problems can become quite acute due to the sudden change in pressure conditions in higher altitudes.

 

how_to_reg  Experience

You should bring experience in cold-weather mountaineering or winter tours and be familiar with the use of ice pick and crampons in ice flanks with an inclination of up to 50°. Also the carrying of a 20 kg backpack should not be a problem. We are very familiar with the charm and attraction of a high mountain! However, we want to make certain that you can ascend safely, come back alive, and be able to enjoy the expedition while on it and not afterwards. When booking, please let us know which heights you have already reached and which high mountains you have climbed. If you are a newcomer, no problem, we offer a bespoke program aimed to train you for reaching your desired destination.

We offer a special introductory weekend for all those who want to learn about – or refresh their knowledge of – all the skills and techniques needed on an expedition. More info here.

 

payment  Payment

Deposit Payment is made less than eleven months prior to the end of the trip and is US$ 2.500,-. The balance must be paid 120 days prior to departure. Please find more information regarding the payment in the GTC of the tour operator.

 

directions_run Right of withdrawal

The traveller has the right to withdraw from the travel contract at any time by paying the according cancellation fee stated in the General Terms of Conditions of the tour operator.

The following fees apply for cancellations on the part of the client prior to travel:

until 121 days prior to departure……………US$ 1.500,-,
120-90 days prior to departure……………… 50% of the tour fee plus US$ 2.500,-,
from the 89th day prior to departure………100% of the tour fee.

The tour operator will be released from the contract if the specified minimum number of participants is not achieved . Further the tour operator reserves the right to cancel an expedition prior to the departure date for any reason.