Bjørn-Eivind Årtun and I have just come out from a 37-day trip to Denali and Mt. Foraker, which was partially funded by a Mugs Stump Award and the Norwegian Alpine Club (NTK). Here is a report of what we did. [Bjørn-Eivind high in the Messner Couloir on our first visit of the expedition to Denali's summit. Photo by Colin Haley]
Editor's note: Patagonia ambassador Colin Haley takes the mic today for a recap of his recent trip to Alaska. Colin and Bjørn-Eivind Årtun won a Mugs Stump Award grant for the climb they would attempt on this trip: A single-push first ascent on the southeast side of Alaska’s second-highest peak, Mt. Foraker, one of the biggest unclimbed faces in the central Alaska Range. How did it go? Pull up a chair, grab your beverage of choice and enjoy a great read from one of America's premiere alpinists.
We flew onto the Kahiltna Glacier on May 13, and immediately started up Denali’s West Buttress route to acclimatize. We soon established a basecamp at the 14,200 ft. camp on the West Buttress to stay for a while. On May 21 we attempted to climb and ski the Orient Express route, but turned around and skied from 17,500 ft. in the face of dangerous wind slabs. On May 25 we climbed to the summit of Denali via the Messner Couloir and returned to the 14,200 ft. camp in 9:15 roundtrip. On May 29 we climbed to the summit of Denali again via the West Buttress route in 8:10 roundtrip.