Denali Alaska is the highest mountain in all of North America and it is a "real" mountain climb by any standards. A three week endeavour from start to finish, the climb begins with a flight into base camp from Talkeetna Alaska onto the glacier, where you are still eight miles from the actual base of the mountain. Denali is regarded as the second most difficult (though not the second highest) mountain of the famed "seven summits" to climb after Everest itself. It is very close to the arctic circle and 20,320' above sea level at the summit. Frigid temperatures, frequent storms with hellacious tent destroying winds and snow squalls that can last for days batter its slopes. People die every season making an attempt on this summit. A buddy and I decided to try our luck on it and we arranged with Alpine Ascents International to climb in June of 2010. To make the trip even more of an adventure we choose to drive the complete distance from Markham Ontario to Talkeetna Alaska, covering the full distance of the Alaskan Highway. Round trip it was 18,900 kilometres. I towed my ultra-light aircraft along for a unique "once in a lifetime" perspective of Alaska by flying it several times during our stay there. Paul made two skydives from the aircraft with Denali in the background for his jump. Our climb of the mountain was a fabulous experience, but success at making the summit was not to be had. High winds, snow, and biting cold kept us pinned at high camp for six full days. Out of time, we had to turn around and descend in a "walk off" from high camp at 17,000' without even being able to make an attempt for the summit. We hiked back to base camp in twenty three straight hours without setting up camp or sleeping, only stopping briefly to drink and eat along the way. All of the Canadian north and Alaska is amazing country. In July it is as warm in Alaska as it is in Markham, where I live. I will visit the far north again. For this adventure I chose to take my Canon 5D Mark II body and my 24-105mm f/4.0 L, 70-200 f/2.8 L, 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L lenses. I took just the 24-105 f/4.0 L for the climb itself. Some of my shots now grace the Alpine Ascents International web site for the Denali page. It was a fabulous trip regardless of the fact that we didn't make the summit and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Oh wait...I did do it again. My other trip to Denali is also in this digital travel section of the website. You can click on any image to enlarge it to full screen.
Headed toward Alaska via the famed Alaskan Highway.We drove in comfort along the way.We'd entered Alaska and were headed toward Talkeetna and then the mountain.Mount McKinley, or, as it it only ever referred to in Alaska..."Denali".A rail yard in Talkeetna Alaska with the mountain in the background.This calf must have dropped from its mother within a few days of this image."Sharps" (i.e. crampons, ice axes and anything else 'sharp') must be kept away from tents.A view from my tent door on the lower glacier, leading toward the base of the mountain.Slogging along the lower glacier toward the base of the mountain.My climbing partner pacing along toward the base of the mountain.Climbers trudging along the glacier.Second guide Rachel Greenberg leading her group along the glacier.A climber in the distance heads toward me, at 11,000' camp....and he continues his way toward me at 11,000' camp.He arrives at 11,000' camp smiling and exhausted.Second guide, Rachel Greenberg, in blue, and her group.A tent grouping at 14,500 camp with Mt. Foraker in the background.Jason by his tent the morning after a big snowfall.My travel and climbing partner, Paul.The view from 14,500' camp looking up to the fixed lines and saddle of the ridge.