The first summit of the season came early this year, with two climbers succeeding via the technical Cassin Ridge route and enduring a white-sphincter descent that saw their tent shredded by high winds at 19,000 feet. Preparation, judgment, technique and gear are all necessary components of your safe ascent and descent, start by checking out our Denali Approved gear!
Every year the Denali climbing season is brought to you by the good men and women of the National Park Service with a huge assist by Fort Wainwright's B Company 1st Battalion 52nd Aviation Regiment, nicknamed the Sugar Bears. These brave men and women fly their CH-47 Chinook helicopters to basecamp, getting valuable high-altitude mountain flying experience while doing the Park Service - and all us climbers - a solid by hauling thousands of pounds of supplies to build basecamp. Check out some great photos from past years.
Your first stop in researching your climb should be the official Denali Dispatches blog, your source for daily-ish field reports and mountain alerts. Check it out to meet the rangers who will be working the mountain this season, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of Denali National Park, and the second year since Denali became the official name in 2015. Suck it Ohio!
Your first stop should be the National Park Service Denali Mountaineering page to look at the annual weather summaries and mountaineering summaries. Last season saw many fewer than normal climbers registered for Denali, the lowest number since 1992. Only time will tell if we'll be anywhere near the crazy 68 percent summit rate from 2013. The biggest factor is of course the weather, and the National Weather Service will soon be tracking the weather on Big Mac; their page isn't up yet, but you can get some stats at Mountain-Forecast.com. Be sure to terrify yourself by looking at it daily. And don't forget, this is your big chance to beat Kilian Jornet's speed record from 2014 on the West Buttress route: 11 hours and 48 minutes, set in June of 2014.
By the way, you know what do all these organizations have in common? They are paid for by our tax dollars, so respect that and don't burden them any more than you have to. Plan and train to take care of yourself and your team on the mountain, and don't be a Jadranka! So switch on, get up there, have fun and most of all be safe. As always getting to the top is optional; getting back down is mandatory.