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Thread: Climbing McKinley

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    Default Climbing McKinley

    Hey everyone! Me and a friend of mine have a goal to one day climb Mt. McKinley not only for the experience, but the bragging rights that come with it! We were wondering what are some prerequisites needed before you can even attempt this climb, like classes. Also how much would it cost us and how long would it take? We don't want to do it with those big groups of climbers that go with guides. We want to do it on our own so we can take a picture of us at the summit with a big old middle finger and send it to all of our friends that say we will never do it. So how much would we be looking and for classes, gear, expenses, etc. and how long are the classes and even the climb in itself. And even share what your experience was if you have already conquered this feat.

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjennings2012 View Post
    ...but the bragging rights that come with it!....
    That mountain has made angles out of many that had better reasons for climbing it than you......

    Good luck on your trip......

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    What's your climbing experience? Ever been in sub-zero weather? Rope work? Glacier travel? "Classes" won't cut it; if you've never climbed, you've got years of work ahead of you before you're ready for Denali.
    Some info: http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...rationinfo.htm
    " the stars, the snow, and the fire. These are the books he reads most of all." ~John Haines

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    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Good luck on the training and climb!
    Me, personally, I never could understand why anyone would want to climb past the elevations that animals live. But I'm always impressed by those that conquer the big ones.
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    I would guess about $15,000.00 to maybe $22,000.00 "EACH" should get it done.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjennings2012 View Post
    Hey everyone! Me and a friend of mine have a goal to one day climb Mt. McKinley not only for the experience, but the bragging rights that come with it! We were wondering what are some prerequisites needed before you can even attempt this climb, like classes. Also how much would it cost us and how long would it take? We don't want to do it with those big groups of climbers that go with guides. We want to do it on our own so we can take a picture of us at the summit with a big old middle finger and send it to all of our friends that say we will never do it. So how much would we be looking and for classes, gear, expenses, etc. and how long are the classes and even the climb in itself. And even share what your experience was if you have already conquered this feat.
    Mountaineering is as much a way of living and a way of viewing the world around you, as anything. The term 'conquer' really has no applicability, unless used in the context of referring to something within yourself. Conversely, the many applications of the term 'respect' are something you will need to become very intimate with. Climbing a mountain like Denali is not something you accomplish as a result of simply taking a few classes. And raising your middle finger from the summit is no more appropriate than it would be in church, arguably less so. Best of luck in your journey.
    He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. ~Thomas Jefferson

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    http://www.climbalaska.org/ Colby and Caitlin...along with their staff run an excellent program.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisi...taineering.htm

    This link has FAQs and the annual reports from the mountaineering rangers make interesting reading. If one of your potential climing mates is in Alaska, have them inquire at the Denali south district ranger station in Talkeetna about sitting in on a climing team briefing. The rangers often meet face to face with teams prior to their departure to review requirements for hauling out trash, sanitation, etc. It's a pretty enlightening and sobering presentation, particularly the photos of frostbitten hands and feet that will end up being amputated, and the matter of fact statements about the need for self-sufficiency during what is typically a 16-24 day trip. 907-733-2231 is the main number there. AKDoug's advice about AMS is good; the NPS site also lists the other licensed guide companies and licensed air taxi companies that can get you into McKinley or other Alaska Range peaks.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Honestly I think your reason for climbing McKinley is the wrong one, but that asside I'll take a stab on what will be required. I'm assuming you have little or no climbing experience. If you want to be able to safely and succesfully climb McKinley I would say you should plan on spending 5 years in training to gain the necessary skills, apply them to smaller peaks, and to get in the necessary shape. Hard to say how much that will cost, but it won't be cheap.

    One reason McKinley has claimed so many lives is many very experienced climbers come to the mountain thinking well it's only a 20,000 ft peak, nothing like the Himalaya's. While the air may not be as thin, the weather and extreme cold are on par with anything on earth.

    If you have the drive, you can do it. But it is a game of suffering and there are necessary skills and conditioning you must have.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Denali is the pinnacle achievement for most mountaineers. Gaining the experience and equipment needed was a 20+ year task for me.

    First, gaining the experience. I did extensive climbing in the Rockies bagging fourteeners in winter conditions. I also learned traditional rock climbing. Then I started gaining glacier experience on Rainier and Hood. Next was experiencing "easy" high altitude climbs on Orizaba and Ixta in Mexico. I've probably got $20,000 tied up in these experiences.

    Some of the big ticket equipment needed for the above climbs and/or specific to Denali:
    -minus 40 800 fill down bag, $900
    -glacier boots, $600
    -overboots, $150
    -3 person four season tent, $900
    -800 fill down parka that will fit over multiple layers, $600
    -Large capacity pack, $500
    -Denali climbing permit, $250
    -Three weeks food, $500
    -Air taxi to Denali base camp, $600
    -Assorted gear: harness, rope, sled, stoves, fuel bottles, ice ax, snowshoes, etc, $1,500

    Excellent classes in glacier mountaineering are offered by Alaska Mountaineering School, Rainer Mountaineering, etc. A great place to start even before these schools is the great book "Mountaineering, Freedom of the Hills".

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    I'm no mountaineer, but enjoy reading about the expeditions. I can highly recommend "Forever on the Mountain" and "In the Shadow of Denali". These accounts will give pause to anyone who entertains thoughts of attempting the climb. It's not a lark.

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    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scbrown4 View Post
    Denali is the pinnacle achievement for most mountaineers. Gaining the experience and equipment needed was a 20+ year task for me.

    First, gaining the experience. I did extensive climbing in the Rockies bagging fourteeners in winter conditions. I also learned traditional rock climbing. Then I started gaining glacier experience on Rainier and Hood. Next was experiencing "easy" high altitude climbs on Orizaba and Ixta in Mexico. I've probably got $20,000 tied up in these experiences.

    Some of the big ticket equipment needed for the above climbs and/or specific to Denali:
    -minus 40 800 fill down bag, $900
    -glacier boots, $600
    -overboots, $150
    -3 person four season tent, $900
    -800 fill down parka that will fit over multiple layers, $600
    -Large capacity pack, $500
    -Denali climbing permit, $250
    -Three weeks food, $500
    -Air taxi to Denali base camp, $600
    -Assorted gear: harness, rope, sled, stoves, fuel bottles, ice ax, snowshoes, etc, $1,500

    Excellent classes in glacier mountaineering are offered by Alaska Mountaineering School, Rainer Mountaineering, etc. A great place to start even before these schools is the great book "Mountaineering, Freedom of the Hills".

    Which 14ers have you completed?
    Lurker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    Which 14ers have you completed?
    I've done Longs Peak by North Face route (old cable route), by Keyhole route and Keiners. North face and Keyhole routes were done numerous times in both summer and winter. I've done Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, Pikes Peak (summer and winter), La Plata Peak. January and February climbs would allow you to experience the warmer side of Denali temps.

    Although not in Colorado, Mt. Rainier is over 14,000 ft. and is a good glacier travel and crevasse rescue training opportunity.

    El Pico de Orizaba at 18,500 in Mexico is a good place to experience high altitude on a budget. Base camp is at 14,000 ft. and would be, altitude wise, similar to the basin camp at 14,000 ft just below the headwall on Denali.

    A more expensive alternative to Orizaba (but worth the bragging rights) would be 22,800 ft Aconcagua in the Andes. Its the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere and the tallest outside of the Himalayas. It is, for the most part, non-technical and an easy summit if you are patient and acclimatize. Its basecamp is also at 14,000 and most will establish 3 additional camps enroute to the summit.

    Knock out achievements like these and become extremely proficient in glacier travel/rescue and you'll be ready for Denali. Be aware that Denali kills Coloradans at a disproportionate rate. 3 years ago I watched a Coloradan attempt a solo summit climb from 14,000 ft. We saw him reach the west buttress ridge and he was never seen again.

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