Saturday, April 16, 2011

Northwest Buttress Route

I've been looking at the route in this book: High Alaska: A Historical Guide to Denali Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter, by Jonathan Waterman

High Alaska: A Historical Guide to Denali Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter

There are some really good pictures by the inimitable Bradford Washburn, with little lines on them (mostly correctly labeled) where the historical routes passed.

Perhaps it is because the Northwest Buttress leads to the North Peak instead of the higher South Peak that this moderately difficult ridge is seldom climbed. However it is a classic Alaskan route because it offers the full spectrum of climbing snow and ice cornices, a knife-edge ridge, couloirs, frost-fractured schist towers and pink-speckled granite. Last, but not least, it has an awe-inspiring view down the biggest wall in the world and across the vast Alaskan tundra.

Our anticipated route has the following elevations:

Plane Lands: 7,200'
Glacier Low Point: 6,700'
Kahiltna Pass: 10,000'
Peters Glacier, foot of Northwest Buttress: 7,800'
North Summit: 19,500'
Camp between summits: 18,500'
South Summit: 20,320'
Plane Pickup: 7,200'

The ridgeline should involve a couple thousand feet of up and down as we ascend the various peaks and spires along it, so we'll probably have to ascend over 15,000' from our plane dropoff.