Denali Winter Ascent: Weather Thwarts Climb

800px McKinelyWestbuttress

After having limited Internet access for the past day and a half, I’m finally getting back online and starting to get caught up on everything that has been going down in the world of adventure. Updates may continue to be on the slow side for the next day or two, but things are progressing and improving.

One of the expeditions that I’ve been watching closely has been the winter climb of Denali in Alaska. Artur Testov and Christine Feret had been attempting that very difficult mountaineering feat, and when we last checked in with them, they were heading down to reassess their options. It turns out that the options were not so good, and so they decided to pack in the expedition and head home for another year.

The weather on Denali in the winter is fickle to say the least, and this is the second time that it has played havoc with Artur and Chritine’s attempt to summit the mountain. Much like last time, the pair spent several days huddled in a snow cave waiting for an opportunity to move up, but once again that opportunity never came.

The challenge wasn’t finished when they decided to end the expedition however, as the descent was a harrowing one, marred by very high winds, lots of snow, and cold temperatures. You can learn more about that part of their climb by listening to the audio dispatches that are available on the expedition’s blog.

Standing 20,327 feet (6,196 meters), Denali is the tallest mountain in North America and due to the northerly latitude that it falls on, it is a challenge to climb at any time of the year, let alone in the winter. Fortunately, Artur and Christine made it down in one piece and without significant injury. Perhaps they’ll be able to give it a go next year.

Kraig Becker