Climb Denali

Climb the standard route of Denali via the West Buttress.

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Climb Denali with Benegas Brothers

Notorious for bad weather, it's high altitude, and heavy loads, Denali is a coveted peak and a formidable member of the Seven Summits. It is also a training ground for climbing the 8,000 meter peaks of the Himalaya and for extended expeditions in the Arctic or Antarctic.

Upcoming Dates

May and June

Standing tall at 20,308 feet / 6,190 m, Denali dominates the Alaska Range, home to some of the most beautiful and remote walls in the world.

The standard route up Denali is via the West Buttress. Pilots in based out of Talkeetna, Denali’s gateway town, offering a regular service of glacier landings, and the national park ranger service nowadays has a full time base camp manager living on the Kahiltna Glacier during the climbing season.

A straightforward snow ramp leads us between peaks and ridges, and it’s possible to haul a sledge to 14,000 ft Camp (4300m) on a broad plateau looking south. Above here the route is steeper and we are limited to backpacks, but the climbing is straightforward. A steep slope leads up to a dramatic ridge which needs to be traversed to high camp at 5,250m.

Summit day involves a short traverse to Denali Pass, the 5545m col between Denali’s north peak and main summit. Above this the route climbs to the left of the ridge crest and crosses a flat expanse known as the Football Field before reaching the short but exposed summit ridge.

Benegas Brothers Expeditions ‘Guest Guides’ Denali with Alpine Ascents International.

  • Cost


    Minimum of 6

  • Duration

    21 days

  • Location

    Denali National Park, Alaska

  • Client/Guide


  • View in Map

Day before departure: Arrivals in Talkeetna
We meet in Talkeetna for a thorough briefing and equipment check.

Day 1: Flight to Kahiltna Glacier
Today we make our registration with the National Park Office, before flying to the Kahiltna Glacier. Here we establish Base Camp and time-permitting can review camp protocols and rope skills.

Day 2: Load Carry to Camp I (2,377m/7,800ft)
Here we establish Camp I, normally reached in around 4 hours. However, we depart early to avoid excessive heat if the weather is clear.

Day 3: Kahiltna Pass Haul to Cache Gear
This is a moderate day where we cache equipment and food at 11,000 feet approx., returning to Camp I to sleep. We now begin employing a climb-high sleep-low strategy for our elevation gains to come.

Day 4: Move to Camp II (3,414m/11,200ft)
Today we take the infrastructure from our Camp I up to Camp II; moving days are tougher than haul days, but we are rewarded by a stunning sunset at Camp II.

Day 5: Cache Pick Up Day
Almost a rest day, today we descend to our gear cache at 11,000 feet and move it up to Camp II.

Day 6: Load Carry Up The Mountain
Today we move gear up to the 'Windy Corner' cache at just above 14,000 feet, a four-mile round trip.

Day 7: Move to Camp III (4,328m/14,200ft)
Another move day, with thinning air to combat. En route we pass our gear cache at 17,000 feet and take up only our camp and meals for the night. We will have to construct snow walls to protect our camp, hard work for which every bit of stamina counts.

Day 8: Cache Pick Up Day
We descend to our gear cache at 17,000 feet and move it up to Camp III today.

Day 9: Load Carry Up The Mountain
Today we move gear up to almost 17,000 feet, and if possible cache it as high up as our High Camp/Camp IV, passing en route the infamous head-wall which requires the use of ascenders. This is a really tough and technical day and we also feel the altitude.

Day 10: Rest day
Today we factor in a full rest day. Our bodies need rest by now, as well as some time to acclimatize and properly re-hydrate.

Day 11: Move to High Camp (5,243m/17,200ft)
Probably our toughest day, today we move up to Camp IV. The climbing is superb, and a true reward for the hard effort being put in! Again we must save some energy to build snow walls for our camp on arrival.

Day 12: Rest day at High Camp
This is a final rest day before our summit push, normally much appreciated by everyone.

Day 13: Summit Day
Summit Day on Denali is tough and cold and long. Guides' decisions are always made with safety as our primary concern. The summit ridge is utterly breathtaking, but we enforce a strict turnaround time.

Days 14 to 15: Descent
Our descent normally takes a couple of days, depending on team energy and motivation. We finally return to Base Camp for a well deserved celebration dinner!

Days 16 to 20: Contingency days

Day 21: Return to Talkeetna, trip ends

Weather permitting we fly out and catch a shuttle out from Talkeetna, with much to celebrate in Anchorage!

In-and-out Travel
Due to the extremely unpredictable weather the chances are very high that you will not fly on your regularly scheduled return flights, thus having flexibility is extremely important.

Travel and Rescue Insurance

Failure of coverage will prevent a climber from leaving Anchorage. Evacuations from Denali can be incredibly complicated and extremely expensive. Additional cancellation coverage may be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit.We require the purchase of insurance plans to protect you from the unexpected. Please consult with your insurance company with any specific questions, regarding coverage, and policy details, and if you have any questions contact our offices.

Coverage should always include lost or damaged baggage, BBE is not responsible for the personal items or baggage of its members at any time.

All of the meals served on Benegas Brothers Expeditions Denali trips are a specialty items brought from the US. We are happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions and/or allergies. We practice an expedition motto of “happiness through eating!”

Mountain Snacks
We recommend that you bring snacks to supplement the mountain meals we provide. We won’t have a chance to purchase much additional food in Chile. Take snacks that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.

Breakfast and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider).

Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. There are limitations in Antarctica due to weight, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.

Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize. The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude. In addition to a proper rate of ascent, your performance is often related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Proper hydration, nutrition, and warmth must be maintained on a daily basis throughout the expedition.

Denali can be the coldest of the Seven Summits. The area has  unstable weather conditions that are ruled by high pressure over the polar icecap. Wind when coupled with cold air temperatures results in brutally low wind-chill temperatures, forming the greatest threat to climbers.

Your Responsibilities
Please ask yourself, why are you goals on Denali? Try to take an introspective look at the risk vs. reward as you make your decision. Any ascent this altitude involves a certain amount of risk. Our use of conservative, experience-based decision making will help minimize those risks and increase your chances for success, but ultimately, big mountains can be unforgiving require serious commitment and reflection. Team members are ultimately responsible for their own well being. This includes making all the necessary preparations to ensure good health and excellent physical conditioning both be- fore and during an expedition. Our guides will oversee and discuss important issues along the way, but you should arrive in Anchorage very well prepared.

At BBE safety is paramount, and our proven success rate reflects our decades of experience. In addition to our exceptional knowledge of the routes we climb, backed up by a phenomenal support staff in base camps and weather forecasting via satellite, we are prepared for every outcome, with rescue and medical equipment and support always standing by. Our climbs and acclimatization programs are meticulously planned, for the most enjoyable ascents possible, focussing on our teams’ safely to give you the experience of a lifetime.

Location: Denali National Park, Alaska Range

Length: 21 Days

Trip Dates: Custom dates

Prerequisites: Only for qualified climbers. Climbers attempting this route need previous high altitude experience on longer self-powered expeditions. Essential: Excellent physical condition, previous experience at high altitude such as Aconcagua, carrying loads. Able to follow WI 3, and previous glacier travel (a must).

Primary Goals: Gain technical experience, summit arguable the toughest of the Seven Summits

Follow-up expeditions: Everest, South Pole

Guide Ratio: 1:3

Group Cost: $8,800

Deposit: $750

Trip fee includes:

  • Charter flights
  • All guides’ costs
  • All communal climbing equipment
  • All expedition permits, food and supplies

Trip fee does not include:

  • International Air Travel
  • Hotels and Meals in Talkeetna (lunches and dinners)
  • Hotels and Meals in Anchorage (lunches and dinners)
  • Personal equipment (your equipment list will be sent to you on the receipt of your booking deposit)
  • Charges incurred as a result of flight delays / earlier than expected departure from National Park back to Anchorage (including any additional hotels nights)
  • Bar bills and laundry
  • Travel, rescue insurance
  • Climbing/trip insurance and any rescue expenses as needed
  • Any cost if the climber abandons the trip
  • Customary guide gratuities
  • Any other expenses incurred beyond the control due of BBE e.g. due to changes in the itinerary or clients personal needs
  • Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
  • Any medications, ground or air evacuations, personal items such as room services, laundry, beverages, phone communications and items of personal nature, insurance liability, hospitalization or medication of any kind, any other service not mentioned

** NB Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is subject to availability i.e. a single room is not available in huts and tents, or in all hotels.