West Buttress, Denali (6 195 m / 20 325 ft)

Mountain: Denali (6 195 m / 20 325 ft)
Activity type: Mountaineering
Activity level: Tough/ Extreme
Elevation: 6 195 m / 20 325 ft
Duration: 21 Day(s)
Expenses: from$ 5 000
Image of West Buttress, Denali (6 195 m / 20 325 ft)
Credit: Dmitry Sidorov


Route Name:
West Buttress, По западному контрфорсу, Normal Route
Activity type:
Activity level:
Tough/ Extreme
Type of Climb:
Snow & Ice
North America, United States (USA): (Alaska)
Starting Point:
Parent Range:
First Ascent:
??/??/1951 Bradford Washburn (USA)
21 Day(s)
Max. Elevation:
6 195m / 20 325 ft
Vertical Gain:
4 100m / 13 451 ft
22km / 14 miles
Climbing Season(s):
15 Apr-31 Jul;
Convenience Center(s):


North America, United States (USA): (Alaska)
  • Your Chance To Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    Mount Denali is the highest peak of North American continent and ascent to it is a quite memorable experience of being in the world of ice and snow, polar sun, communication with climbers from different countries united by common goal. The conditions are tough - tents are placed on a glacier surrounded by lot of crevasses, the temperature can plummet to minus 35 degrees Celsius. However, on the other hand - it is the polar day, an acquaintance with an American approach to all the details and nuances that can seriously affect the success of your expedition. In addition, only Denali so organically combines high-altitude expedition style and excellent infrastructure of the National Park.
  • Description Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    West Buttress is considered the least technical way to get to the summit. Difficulty is a hard thing to quantify in climbing, especially when it comes to expedition climbing and routes. For a mountain like Denali, difficulty needs to be thought of in terms of 1) technical difficulty, 2) weather and conditions, 3) objective hazards, and 4) the environment. In terms of the technical difficulty of the climb, the West Buttress route involves extensive and highly crevassed glacier travel as well as snow and ice climbing to about 40 degrees in steepness. The steepest part of the route -- the headwall above the 14,200-foot camp -- is protected by fixed lines. Conditions on the 'Autobahn', which is the snow and ice slope leading from High Camp at 17,200-feet to Denali Pass at 18,200-feet, can vary from deep snow (avalanche danger) to hard ice. Climbers should be prepared to place their own protection as needed on the upper mountain (i.e. the Autobahn, just below Zebra Rocks, Pig Hill and the summit ridge).The Autobahn has been the scene of more fatalities on Denali than any other part of the mountain.
  • Getting There Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    The easiest option to get to Base Camp - is to use the air taxi services. There is a number of companies that are based at the airport in Talkeetna. Round-trip ticket will cost you approximately 400-500 dollars. Plus additional 140-180 dollars for a transfer from Anchorage to Talkeetna and back.
  • Red Tape Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    All climbers attempting Mount Denali must register with Denali National Park and Preserve at least 60 days in advance of the climb, as well as pay the Mountaineering Special Use Fee. The fee can be paid by credit card via official website of the Denali National Park and Preserve. Registration and mountaineering ranger staff are available year-round at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station to answer your questions.
  • Are You Ready? Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    Climbers should train to carry a heavy (40-70 lb) backpack while pulling a heavy (60-80 lb) sled on mostly moderate terrain for 6 to 8 hours at a time. In addition to the climbing and carrying of heavy loads, there is a lot of work involved with building camps on Denali. Focusing on general fitness in addition to uphill and downhill fitness will be a big benefit. Most climbers benefit more from training for endurance and longevity rather than for peak performance. It is fair to say that the best training for walking uphill with a heavy backpack on is, well… walking uphill with a heavy backpack!
  • Tips Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

  • Parameters Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    Base Camp Elevation: 2 225 m / 7 300 ft
    Summit Camp Elevation: 5 273 m / 17 300 ft
    Accommodation in Base Camp: Tents only
    Accommodation above Base Camp: Tents only
    Number of Camps: 6
    Avg. Cost: 5 000 USD
    Age Restrictions: At least 21 years old
    Soloing: Yes
    Avg. Descent Time: Please update
  • Key Points Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    Name (Elevation) Description
    Pig Hill
    5 800 m / 19 029 tf
    Summit Ridge
    6 000 m / 19 685 tf
    A narrow snow ridge from the top of Pig Hill right to the summit. Sometimes it is so narrow that could be called a "snow knife". In busy days climbers even have to stay in a queue to pass the most narrow parts one-by-one.
    Base Camp
    2 225 m / 7 300 tf
    Camp I
    2 377 m / 7 800 tf
    Ski Hill
    2 896 m / 9 500 tf
    Camp II
    2 987 m / 9 800 tf
    Camp III (Camp Eleven)
    3 414 m / 11 200 tf
    Motorcycle Hill
    3 475 m / 11 400 tf
    Squirrel Hill
    3 658 m / 12 000 tf
    Windy Corner
    4 115 m / 13 500 tf
    Camp IV (Medical Camp)
    4 328 m / 14 200 tf
    4 877 m / 16 000 tf
    Washburn's Tower
    5 090 m / 16 700 tf
    Rescue Gully
    5 212 m / 17 100 tf
    Camp V (High Camp)
    5 243 m / 17 200 tf
    5 400 m / 17 717 tf
    Denali Pass
    5 547 m / 18 200 tf
    Zebra Rocks
    5 639 m / 18 500 tf
    Archdeacons Tower
    5 791 m / 19 000 tf
    Football Field
    5 913 m / 19 400 tf
  • Agencies Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

  • GPS-Tracks

    Mountain Planet
    66 download(s)
  • Did You Know Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

    Warmer temperatures have led to dramatic thawing of permafrost. Thaw releases carbon, as once-frozen materials decompose, but allows increased plant growth. Researchers in Denali are studying whether thawing permafrost will increase or decrease world-wide carbon emissions.


  • References Edit •  Add / Share you knowledge with mates

Last update: Slava Shevtsov (27 Jun 2018) • History
Dmitry Sidorov

 Dmitry Sidorov 

51 years, United States (USA)



Mountaineering, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Backcountry Skiing
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Day 1

Arriving in Talkeetna.
Orientation and final gear check.

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Day 2

Flight to Kahiltna Glacier.
You will board a ski-equipped aircraft and fly to Base Camp on the S.E. Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier (7,300'). The flight to Base Camp is marvelous, presenting outstanding views of a variety of peaks including Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, and the Moose's Tooth. Upon arrival you prepare your Base Camp. A glacier travel review may be done on this day.

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Day 3

Glacier travel review.
You will carry to your intermediary camp (approximately halfway to the traditional Camp I). This gives you a chance to get an easy start and let you sort out any adjustments in gear and sled-pulling setup. This is important, as you will be pulling sleds for the next eight days.

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Day 4

Carry loads to Camp I (7,800 ft.).
Snowshoes may be necessary between camps on the lower part of the mountain.

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Day 5

Carry loads to Camp II.
Carry loads to cache between 9,800 and 10,000 ft. (Camp II) and return to Camp I. The route this day ascents a slope called "Ski Hill," which flattens out as we approach Camp II.

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Day 6

Move to Camp II.
Your carry today depends on snow/ weather conditions and how the group is feeling. You will either ascend back to your cache and camp for the night or continue on to 11,200 ft. (Camp III.) Camp III is located in a small cirque at the base of Motorcycle Hill.

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Day 7

Move to Camp III.
You'll carry all your loads to Camp III. Night in Camp III.

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Day 8

Carry loads to Windy Corner.
You'll carry part of your gear up Motorcycle and Squirrel Hill and then traverse a long gradually rising plateau to Windy Corner. Then you'll continue on around this narrow corner for a few hundred meters more to make a cache (at approximately 13,500 ft.) and return to Camp III. Stone falls possible so helmets required.

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Day 9

Move to Camp IV.
This day you'll move to Camp IV. Usually climbers leave their sleds, skies and snowshoes in Camp III due to the steepness of the upper part. However, sleds can be used up to Camp IV. Be careful on the traverse because it's quite hard to keep your balance while carrying the sleds. They even can cause your fall down the steep slope to the icefall.

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Day 10

Carry loads to Camp IV.
Descend to your cache at 13,500 ft. and carry to Camp IV. This is an easy day as you'll descend 700 ft., pick up your gear, and return to Camp IV. In the midday you may make an easy walk up to the beginning of fix ropes.

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Day 11

Carry loads to 16,500 ft.
You'll carry loads up to 16,500 ft. and return to Camp IV. You'll ascend 1,100 ft. of moderate snow slopes to reach the beginning of the fixed ropes. Using ascenders on the ropes to self-belay, you'll climb the Headwall, which consists of 900 feet of 45° to 50° snow and ice up to the crest of the West Buttress. From there, the climb takes on an entirely different nature with views that fall off in both directions several thousand feet below you.

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Day 12

Rest Day.
Rest Day at Camp IV.

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Day 13

Move to High Camp (Camp V).
Carry and move to High Camp (Camp V, 17,200 ft.). You'll again ascend the fixed ropes and follow the exposed ridge 600 feet up around Washburn's Tower, and on to Camp V, which we establish on a saddle just above the Rescue Gully.

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Day 14

Rest Day.
Rest and prepare for the summit push. To obtain acclimatization you can take an easy walk up to the beginning of fixed ropes.

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Day 15

Summit Day.
You'll traverse across a steep snow face to Denali Pass. From there, you'll follow gentler slopes to reach Archdeacons Tower and a large plateau at 19,400 ft., known as the "football field." From the plateau, you'll ascend moderate terrain to the crest of the summit ridge. Once on the summit ridge, excitement grows as you'll climb the last 300 feet of the narrow snow ridge to the top of North America. From the summit, you'll have a 360° view of the entire Alaska Range, with Mt. Hunter and Mt. Huntington to the south and Mt. Foraker to the west. These peaks, along with scores of others, make this mountain view one of the most impressive in the world. After taking photos, you'll descend to the High Camp. This day usually takes up to 18 hours or more for the return climb.

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Day 16

Descent to Camp IV.
Descent and carry all your gear to the Camp IV.

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Day 17

Descent o Camp II.
Descent and carry all your gear to Camp II.

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Day 18

Return to Talkeetna.
Return to Base Camp where you'll board a plane and return to Talkeetna.

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Day 19

Reserve Day.
For inclement weather, rest and acclimatization if needed.

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Day 20

Reserve Day.
For inclement weather, rest and acclimatization if needed.

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Day 21

Reserve Day.
For inclement weather, rest and acclimatization if needed.

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