Explore-Share logo and link to home

Climbing West Buttress route on Denali – 24 days

West Buttress
West Buttress
West Buttress
West Buttress

Ascending Mount Denali, in Alaska, is a dream for mountaineers. Led by an AMGA certified mountain guide, ascend this 6190m summit via the West Buttress route. It is definitely a demanding expedition, but the satisfaction will be immense!

Alaska Range

24 Days

May - Jul

Very high

Advanced


Description

Mount Denali, in Alaska, is the highest peak in North America. It rises to 6190 meters and its ascent is very demanding. The easiest way (and the most popular) to ascend this impressive summit is through the West Buttress route.

But “easiest” is definitely a relative term. This ascent is very demanding, although the route is not technical. Indeed, it does not include rock climbing nor vertical ice climbing. But the conditions will be extreme: the expedition is long, there are steep climbing sections, the terrain is glaciated, the altitude is an important factor. The itinerary is flexible to adapt to the conditions and increase the chance of success.

This is without a doubt a once in a lifetime experience, a dream for mountaineers in an incredibly beautiful environment.

A key factor to succeed in this climbing trip is to achieve proper acclimatization. The program is designed to have a good and slow acclimatization, but it is also very important to be in excellent physical shape for your body to acclimatize properly.

For more information about the program have a look at the model daily itinerary below.

To join this trip you need to be in top physical shape and have glacier climbing experience. You need to have previously successfully completed a multi-day mountaineering seminar, including a successful summit climb. If you have doubts about your experience, let’s talk about it! And if you are looking for a seminar of this kind, have a look at this 8-day Mount Rainier preparation course for Denali.

Dreaming of climbing the mythical Denali? The West Buttress route is waiting for you, send a request and we will start the preparation!

Price includes

- Accommodation included

- Guiding fee

- Breakfast

- Lunch

- Dinner

- Local flights

- Transportation start and back

- Transport during the trip

- Clean drinkable water

- Mountain guide expenses

- Rope

- Camping equipment tents

- Camping equipment cooking utensils

Price details

Included:

Unlimited pre-trip access to our office resources.

Instruction and direction by our experienced guides

Up to two nights lodging (shared room) at the Lakefront Hotel in Anchorage before your 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.).

Custom expedition dispatch blog for your climb, complete with audio posts from team members calling from the mountain.

Uphill Athlete 24-week Mountaineering Training Program.

25% Discount on Patagonia clothing and equipment.

Assistance arranging for post-climb activities in Alaska.

Not Included:

Flights to and from Alaska.

Personal clothing and equipment, per our equipment list.

Any additional lodging including post-expedition lodging.

Meals while not on the mountain.

Travel and/or rescue insurance.

Guide Gratuity (typically 10-20% of trip cost)

Mountaineering special use fee ($330 for climbers 24 years old and younger; $430 for climbers 25+ years old) and Denali National Park entrance fee ($15).

Costs incurred due to evacuation or unplanned departure from the mountain due to illness, other problems or by choice. Costs may include, but are not limited to: additional lodging, shipping costs to return gear to you, and transportation.

Costs incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of the guide.

Costs as a result of force majeure.


Itinerary

Day 1: Meet in Anchorage

Meeting at Anchorage International Airport. We generally have an orientation and equipment check meeting at 10 am. You may arrive in Anchorage a day in advance to make sure you will attend this meeting.

Day 2: Transfer to Talkeetna - Fly to the Glacier

The transportation is ours. The transfer takes more than two hours, and we will stop for coffee and snacks. When we arrive, we get organized and prepared for our flight to the glacier. Once on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, we will establish our camp for the night.

Day 3: Kahiltna 7800' Camp

We depart base camp, and move to camp to about 7800' near the junction with the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. The distance is about 5 miles and is a good way to get ready for the upcoming days.

Day 4: Haul Loads up to Kahiltna Pass

This is a moderately difficult carry of 7-9 miles round-trip, with 2,000′-3,000′ of elevation gain and a return to 7,800′ Camp for the night.

Day 5: Move everything to 11,000' Camp

Our second camp is often in the 11,000’ basin at the base of Motorcycle Hill. This is an incredibly beautiful location that basks in alpenglow when the sun travels around the north side of the mountain.

Day 6: Back-Carry Day

This is an “active rest day” during which we drop back down and pick up the cache we left near Kahiltna Pass. It also helps give us another day to acclimatize before moving higher.

Day 7: Haul Loads Around Windy Corner

Steep snow climbing up the 1,000′ high Motorcycle Hill rewards climbers with spectacular views. The total distance for the day is about four miles round trip with a little over 2,000′ of elevation gain. Fun climbing with crampons and an ice axe gets you around Windy Corner where the upper mountain comes into view. Have your camera ready!

Day 8: Move Camp to 14,200'

This is usually a long, hard day. Our next camp is generally located at the well-equipped 14,200’ 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.

Day 9: Back-Carry Day

This is another “active rest day,” during which the team will descend from Genet Basin to the Windy Corner cache and bring everything up to 14,200′. We’ll spend the afternoon going over climbing techniques that we will use in the upcoming days.

Day 10: Climb up the Headwall to the Ridge

Our goal is to cache supplies up on the ridge above us and return to 14,200′. Climbing up the “Headwall” (the section of route with fixed lines running from 15,500′ to 16,100′) 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!

Day 11: Rest Day

It is often prudent to take a rest/acclimatization day prior to moving up to High Camp.  Many climbers feel this day really helps their acclimatization.

Day 12: Move to High Camp

Weather and team strength will again determine this decision. While there is a camp site at 16,100′, it is very exposed, so we usually push for the 17,200′ 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-edge stretch, combined with big exposure, make this day one of the most memorable of the route.

Day 13: Rest Day

Moving to 17,200’ and getting High Camp established can be a huge day, so we usually take a rest day before attempting the summit.  Circumstances could mean that we do not take this rest day, but if possible, we prefer to take it.

Day 14: Summit Day

If the weather is favorable, we’ll push for the summit. 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. Our guide staff is the most experienced on the mountain and your guides will make this sometimes difficult decision. The round-trip climb will take eight to twelve hours or more. Usually you will depart camp early (7-10 a.m.), climb up to Denali Pass (18,000’) and follow the route past Arch Deacon’s Tower and the Football Field to the slopes leading to the Summit Ridge. On this spectacular ridge you can often see down into the Ruth Glacier with views of beautiful peaks such as the Moose’s Tooth, Mount Huntington and Mount Hunter.

Reaching the Naya Khang peak depends on two crucial factors: favorable weather and your unwavering commitment to preparation. This particular ascent is often dubbed the expedition's "crucible," pushing even seasoned climbers to their limits. While reaching the summit is an exhilarating goal, our experienced guides prioritize safety above all else. Their expertise determines when the team attempts the summit and whether individual climbers are physically and mentally ready. While uncommon, they might even ask a team member to prioritize safe descent over individual summit aspirations.

Day 15 to 16: Descent

The descent from High Camp takes one to two days, depending on the team’s strength and motivation to get home. The descent can beat you up more than the ascent, as we often shoulder our heaviest loads of the trip hiking down from High Camp to Camp 2. 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!

Day 17 to 23: Contingency 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.

Day 24: Return to Anchorage and Fly Home 

We will provide group transportation back to Anchorage and you can make plans to fly home as early as this evening. If you are staying in Alaska, we are happy to assist in making any necessary lodging reservations; however, lodging after the climb is not included in trip cost. This is a true transition day from the intensity of the mountain to the relative “big city” life of Anchorage.

 

Details

More info

You need to bring your own lunches packed for the whole expedition.

Meeting point

At Anchorage International Airport.

FAQs

What experience and how fit do I need to be to climb this mountain? Is this program suitable for children or older people?

Everyone must come to the trip with a good physical condition although the activity isn't too technical.

How far in advance should I start training and what kind of training do you suggest?

We recommend taking a basic mountaineering course before the trip.

Will I need to bring any technical equipment of my own? Is it possible to rent equipment, and if so, what would be the approximate cost of that?

We provide all group equipment but you should bring your personal equipment. After you book, please contact us to provide you with the list of the gear needed. We have certain items available for rent.

How will accommodation and meals be handled on the mountain?

All food will be included on the mountain.

Can I join a group?

Yes, you can.

About the guide

Guide profile image

E-S Adventure Guides

4.70

(36)

Mountain Guide

One of our certified guides will take you skiing and climbing to some of the best spots in North America. In the USA we offer trips in California, Colorado, Maine, Alaska, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Montana, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Vermont. And in Canada, you'll find tours in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.

Languages

English

Request more information

What people are saying about E-S Adventure Guides

David

5.00

Great guides and great snow!

Peggy

5.00

Will was great wise and fun to spend the day with.

Phillip

1.00

Guide cancelled within 48 hrs and I was unable to find someone else and so far I’ve not been refunded. Put a small dent in my otherwise great trip to Revelstoke.

Lucie

5.00

All perfect

Amanda

5.00

Guide was very experienced and very patient with us. We learned alot and he tried to fit in all the knowledge he could in one day, super awesome. A little tough going back and forth to get the trip set up hard to tell if the site is sketchy until you see reviews but all worked out. Ended up with an awesome day with an awesome guide. Overall pretty satisfied and thankful!


You may also like

Join our newsletter!

Stay up-to-date on the best adventures.