Mt Denali summit, Alaska

Mt. Denali Expedition

24 Days from £11,230 (excl. International flights)

Anchorage  – Mt Denali

Mt Denali Climbing Expedition

Unique opportunity to climb the tallest mountain in North America with SAS mountaineer Krish Thapa.

Denali Expedition: 15th May - 7th June 2025

Trip leader: Krish Thapa, former head of SAS Mountain Troop.

**We are thrilled to have secured KRISH THAPA to lead our 2025 Denali expedition. Krish is a world-class high-altitude mountaineer, ex-SAS Mountain leader and professional guide who was one of the first of two Ghurkas to pass selection into the British SAS where he served as head of the Mountain Troop, successfully leading expeditions on Everest, K2. He has also completed ski descents from the summits of Dhaulagiri and Manaslu and recently led the first double amputee to the summit of Everest**

Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is the highest peak in North America at 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) and the second most difficult of the Seven Summits. This massive mountain in the Alaska Range presents an exciting challenge for mountaineers due to its remote location, extreme weather conditions, and grueling climb over glaciers and up steep ridges.

We are taking the classic route to climb Denali; the West Buttress. This iconic mountaineering route is a modestly technical but physically and mentally challenging endeavour. Many Denali climbers find this to be the most challenging climb they have done during their career in the mountains.

West Buttress expeditions start from the town of Talkeetna. From here climbers fly in by light aircraft to the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier (one of the most epic flights you'll ever have), landing on ski's at 7,200 feet.

From here you follow the Kahiltna north before ascending up onto the West Buttress proper. On the first day on the trail, climbers have 100+ lbs (+/-50kgs) of gear split between a backpack and sled. Climbers will use a variety of mountaineering techniques to make their way around crevasses and up steep terrain. The route finishes with a committing summit day (plan for 12 - 14 hours) that culminates with an incredible knife-edged ridge to the highest point in North America.

Joining Krish, we have an Alaska based guiding team with experience on teh West Buttress since 1976 - and they are one of just seven operators holding license from the National Park Service to conduct organised trips up Denali.

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The itinerary…

Day 1: Meet in Anchorage (15th May 2025)

Lakefront Hotel Anchorage Alaska

Lakefront Anchorage Hotel

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), which is conveniently located and offers free airport transfers.

Day 2: Travel to Talkeetna and fly to the glacier

Glacier flight, Alaska

Glacier flight

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 more than 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 (NPS) 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.

Day 3: Single carry to 7,800′ Camp

Denali pretrip kahiltna

Kahiltna Glacier

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 7,800′, 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 warm up 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 7,800′ 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.

Day 4: Haul loads up to Kahiltana Pass

Kahiltana Pass, Denali, Alaska

Daily climb

We’ll head out of 7,800′ Camp and carry loads up the 1,800′ Ski Hill. Several options exist for campsites between 9,000′ and 11,000′, depending upon weather, snow conditions and team strength. 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

Camp, Denali, Alaska

Base of Motorcycle Hill

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

Kahiltna, Denali, Alaska

View towards Kahiltna Pass

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 (13,000')

Windy Corner, Denali, Alaska

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'

Tent, Denali, Alaska

Pitching Tents

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

Camp, Denali, Alaska

Camp

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

Headwall, Denali, Alaska

The Headwall

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

Denalil, Alaska

Rest day at camp

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

Mountains, Denali, Alaska

Rocky Exposure on Denali

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 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

Climbers, Denali, Alaska

Climbers enjoying a respite

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

Denali Summit, Alaska

Climbers on the Denali summit

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.

Day 15 - 16: The Descent

Denali, Alaska

The 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 - 23: Contingency Days

Denali, Alaska

Waiting!

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

Denali Alaska

Goodbye Mountain

**WE ANTICIPATE A RETURN TO ANCHORAGE BETWEEN THE 1st & 7th JUNE DEPENDING ON CONTINGENCY DAYS TAKEN**

We will provide group transportation back to Anchorage and you can make plans to fly home as early as this evening. It is usually straightforward to amend departure dates of flights out of Anchorage if you get back earlier than expected.

This is a true transition day from the intensity of the mountain to the relative “big city” life of Anchorage.


Duration: 24 Days

Location: USA holidays, USA & Canada Holidays

Price: £11230pp

USD cost $13,700

This cost includes:

  • Unlimited pre-trip access to our office resources.
  • Guidance of our experienced Mountain Trip guides (we require any guide wishing to lead a Denali climb to have 5 previous expeditions on the mountain—most of our lead guides have 10+ trips).
  • Up to two nights lodging (shared room) at the Lakefront Hotel in Anchorage before your climb.
  • Up to seven contingency days are included on the mountain.
  • 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.

The cost does not include:

  • 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
  • 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 Mountain Trip.
  • Costs as a result of force majeure.
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