One Man's Guide to Climbing McKinley, aka Denali
(and other high cold places)

20 May - 8 Jun 2005 - by Tim Hult (view roster page)

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Text and Photos by Timothy Hult - Revision 3, February 2009
Copyright (c) 2009 by Timothy D. Hult - all rights reserved.
Published on Climber.Org with author's permission.

Table of Contents (see also Figures and Tables)
-FORWARD, CREDITS, REVISION NOTESPage 2
-TABLE OF CONTENTS (click on lines to jump inside PDF file)Page 4
-LIST OF FIGURES (click on lines to jump inside PDF file)Page 7
-LIST OF TABLES (click on lines to jump inside PDF file)Page 8
1PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITIONPage 9
2INTRODUCTIONPage 9
2.1.1.1Anecdote: Which is Harder Everest or McKinley?Page 11
2.2WeatherPage 11
2.2.1Weather ZonesPage 12
2.2.2Weather cyclesPage 12
2.3McKinley Weather ForecastPage 13
2.4Suggested climbing strategyPage 17
2.4.1"Sneaking up" on Big Mountains like McKINLEYPage 17
2.4.2Potential summit schedule from 14kPage 18
2.4.2.1Anecdote: The Wind. The windPage 20
2.4.2.2Anecdote: Snuggling with Amy.Page 20
2.5Are you ready for Big Mac?Page 20
2.6Attitude and SuccessPage 21
2.7Picking Your Partner(s)Page 22
2.8When to go and how long to budgetPage 23
2.8.1.1Anecdote: Crevasses and throwing the "Poo bag".Page 23
3EQUIPMENT:Page 25
3.1Tents:Page 25
3.1.1Thoughts on Pitching your TentPage 26
3.1.1.1Anecdote: McKinley isn't a three-season mountain:Page 27
3.2Personal Equipment (Hardware & Such)Page 28
3.3Personal Equipment ListPage 30
3.3.1A word on Books and other Diversions:Page 32
3.3.2Photography:Page 32
3.3.2.1Film Photography:Page 33
3.3.2.2Digital PhotographyPage 34
3.3.3Sleeping BagsPage 35
3.3.3.1Anecdote: Warming from the inside outPage 37
3.3.4Sleeping PadsPage 38
3.3.5Drag Bags vs. SledsPage 38
3.3.6Hydration systems:Page 40
3.3.6.1Purifying Drinking WaterPage 40
3.3.7What is a PEE BOTTLE and why do you want one?Page 40
3.3.8Vapor Barrier Socks.Page 40
3.3.9Skis vs. snow shoes.Page 41
3.3.10Choosing a backpack.Page 42
4GROUP EQUIPMENTPage 44
4.1Group Equipment ListPage 44
4.2Radios, Cell Phones and Family Service Radios (FSRs):Page 45
4.2.1CB radio:Page 45
4.2.2FSR (Family Service Radios "Talk Abouts")Page 46
4.2.3Cell Phone:Page 46
4.2.42m Single Side Band Radio.Page 47
4.2.5Satellite phonesPage 47
4.2.6Renting a Satellite PhonePage 47
4.3Emergency Locator BeaconPage 49
4.4Stove:Page 49
4.4.1Problems with Gas StovesPage 49
4.5First Aid kit and Medical training:Page 50
4.6A Discussion on WeightPage 51
4.7What I don't think is very usefulPage 56
5CLOTHING:Page 57
5.1.1.1Anecdote: Remembering your grade school mittensPage 57
5.2Clothing ListPage 59
5.2.1What I wore lower on the mountain.Page 61
5.2.2Down Jackets and ParkasPage 61
5.2.3Down PantsPage 63
5.2.4Boots and socksPage 64
5.2.4.1Some thoughts on Vapor Barrier SocksPage 66
6FOOD AND COOKINGPage 68
6.1Cooking Equipment ListPage 71
6.1.1A Discussion About Super Efficient Cooking SystemsPage 72
6.1.2Clean-up Tips:Page 72
6.1.3Wind screens and the Science of Boiling WaterPage 72
6.2Menus and FoodPage 73
6.2.1Food considerations:Page 73
6.2.2Some food suggestions:Page 75
6.2.2.1Anecdote: "Kudo" Bars to the MaxPage 76
7NAVIGATIONPage 77
7.1GPS use on McKinleyPage 77
7.1.1.1Anecdote: Humans as BlanketsPage 77
7.2Several Navigation Tips:Page 78
8HYGIENEPage 81
8.1Hygiene Items and ConsiderationsPage 81
8.2General Hygiene and Toilet Practices:Page 82
8.3Human Waste DisposalPage 83
8.4To shave or not to shave:Page 84
8.4.1.1Antidote: What kind of Harness do you want?Page 85
9SKILLS YOU'LL NEEDPage 87
9.1.1.1Anecdotes on Crevasse Rescue and Safety:Page 87
10PACKING FOR THE AIRLINES AND OTHER AIR TRAVEL CONSIDERATIONSPage 89
10.1Gas, Fuel Canisters, and Other "Terrorist" ItemsPage 89
10.2Airline Reservation flexibilityPage 89
10.3Packing for the FlightPage 90
11A SUGGESTED READING LIST:Page 91
12DENALI WILL KILL YOU (DISCLAIMER)Page 92
13COMPARISON OF CLIMBING SCHEDULESPage 97
14OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION AND RELEVANT NEWS ITEMS ON CLIMBING DENALIPage 103
14.1Relevant News in 2008 typical of the climbing season on McKinleyPage 103
14.2Park Service Web Site and informationPage 104
14.3Current Weather on DenaliPage 104

List of Figures (see also Contents and Tables)
Cover PhotoMt McKinley from the Denali Park RoadPage 1
Figure 1Around Windy (Icy!) Corner (13,000 ft.) Note storm clouds belowPage 15
Figure 2Snowshoeing through a snowstorm at 10,000 feetPage 16
Figure 3The successful 2005 "3-D" Team on top of McKinley 20,320 ftPage 19
Figure 4Throwing the "Poo bag" at 11k into a monster CrevassePage 24
Figure 5Snow Wall surround tents at 14,000 ft, poor weather Clouds and Mt Hunter in the backgroundPage 26
Figure 6Proper Tent Pitching in a McKinley Snow HolePage 27
Figure 7Our Group's Climbing Equipment Stash at 14,000 ftPage 28
Figure 8 Tim Hult Skiing up the Kahiltna 9,500 ftPage 29
Figure 9Joe Burton Working Cross word puzzles at 17,200 ftPage 32
Figure 10 Joe Burton in his Big, -40 F/C Down Sleeping BagPage 37
Figure 11Scott Warner Hefts his Monster Load at 8,000 feetPage 43
Figure 12Scott Warner Starts out with way too much weight 2005Page 52
Figure 13Scott Warner Practicing crevasse self-rescue on a training tripPage 53
Figure 14Mount Hunter from 8,000 ft CampPage 54
Figure 15Skiing up the Lower Kahiltna in a Low Clouds and FogPage 55
Figure 16The Rescue Helicopter Evacuates a climber from 14,000 ftPage 58
Figure 17 Tim's Summit KitPage 64
Figure 18 Going Down from 14,000 to pick up a Cache. Mt Foraker in backgroundPage 67
Figure 19Climbers moving up from Windy Corner at Dusk, Mt Hunter in backgroundPage 67
Figure 20 Joe Burton Prepares a Meal at 11,000 ftPage 69
Figure 21Day One Getting Ready to Pulling The Full Load Out of 7,000 ftPage 69
Figure 22Typical unbalanced sled positionPage 70
Figure 23Freezing Fog on the Lower Kahiltna GlacierPage 79
Figure 24Moving Up The West Buttress in Foggy Weather (15k 16,000 ft)Page 80
Figure 25Joe Burton Disposing the of the "Poo Bag" in a BIG Crevasse at 11,000 ftPage 83
Figure 26The High Altitude Poo Bucket and Other Gear at 17kPage 84
Figure 27Taking a sponge "bath" at 11,000 ftPage 86
Figure 28Alaska Range Memorial BoardPage 92
Figure 29Denali from 8,000 ft, NE Fork of the Kahiltna (foreground), West Rib (middle), and Denali's 20, 320 ft SummitPage 93
Figure 30Clouds "spill" over Kahiltna Pass at 11 PM - 12,000 ftPage 94
Figure 3111,000 ft CampPage 95
Figure 32The "ants" Marching up the West Buttress from 14,000 ft to 16,000 ft. on a good weather dayPage 96

List of Tables (see also Contents and Figures)
Table 1Personal Equipment ListPage 30
Table 2Group Equipment ListPage 44
Table 3Non-useful ItemsPage 56
Table 4Clothing ListPage 59
Table 5Cooking Equipment ListPage 71
Table 6Hygiene ListPage 81
Table 7Climbing Schedule ComparisonPage 97


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