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Denali - unepic West Buttress expedition
Timestamp Free: 2020.01.23 - 22:18:15
Ranges: North America Ranges / Alaska Ranges
  (22 days)
Participants: Serguei Okountsev, Weiwei Yin
Unguided Denali expedition via West Buttress. GPS attached.
[photo]DSCN8296.JPG[caption]PHOTO (by Weiwei Yin): At 16K ridge (~5,000m), with Mt. Foraker (5,304 m) at the back.[/photo]

Two of us climbed Denali via standard route West Buttress. It took 22 days after two years of research, training and preparations, two major accidents, a 1st degree frostbite, a rescue, surgeries and 7-days hospitalization at VGH trauma unit. We practiced camping at -20C, climbing at 100km/h winds, ascending fixed lines on very steep snow. On top of that, tons of our expedition gear (down parkas, sleeping bags, backpacks, etc.) were once stolen from our car parked in a US state park, so thanks to it, we got brand new modern replacement - our original gear was in fact outdated.

After such an epic prepping, the entire expedition was what they usually call "uneventful": none of us had altitude effects (used no altitude pills), frostbites or bad falls - major reasons for failing to summit, the climbing season 2019 had enough of each of them. We had a very good appetite every day and even gained weight - no kidding!

Checking in the Talkeetna rangers office, we saw first injured - they made it to 17K, got frostbite and went down without topping Denali. "Too cold." Only after return we fully realized, that even making it to 17K camp then was quite an achievement - at that time even 14K camp had no rangers. Some people never got higher than 11K camp - two weeks trapped in bad weather, go home. Getting on the air taxi, we saw two skiers unloading - "How high did you guys make it?" - "Not high". All the way to 11K we met parties returning without success. "Too cold".

Windy Corner was in a very sad shape, blue ice patches under dust of snow just above a huge drop. Someone before us fell there, broke some ribs and had to stay through -20C bad...

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