The seven summits, the highest peaks of the 7 continents: Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson, Carstensz! Trips, Statistics & information!
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Denali

Summit of North America, 6194m

                 

 

On the new 7summits site we will place trip reports to the 7summits, so email them and we will add them!

Below is the report of 7summits' Harry Kikstra climbing the West Buttress route.

Happy reading :-)

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Click the pictures below to enlarge:

But the ever present Ice axe kept us safe and after making a last turn around a big corniche and up a little hill around 19.45hr, we saw a thin line of Tibetan prayer flags: The summit of Denali, USA and the North American Continent! Suddenly the tiredness was gone for a moment and for the first time on the ridge I could take the time to enjoy the magnificent views.

 My watch read 6175m, but I hadn't reset it since 4200m so I was impressed with it's accuracy as it was only 20m off.

We hugged and congratulated each other on the summit which is a few square meters wide and starting taking pictures of each other, the sponsor banners and of course the amazing views. The sun was setting and the light was great. I took out my handycam battery and shot about 10 seconds of film with a shaky hand. There was no wind at all and we didn't have to wear our Gore-Tex, let alone the down jackets we brought! A few thin clouds passed the sun and immediately the temperature dropped 20 degrees. Time to get down!

Going down the narrow ridge was even scarier than going up and we took our time for it. The crampons were biting the ice, the ice axe helped us keeping our balance and were descended safely. We noticed how exhausted we were when we had to climb about 20 meters up the "Pig Hill": this took us about 15 minutes and we needed about 5 rests each! Fortunately the rest of the way was down from here...

Harry on the summit: 4 down, 3 to go!

 

 

Harry at the summit! 

4 down, 2 to go!

View from the summit to the South East

View South east from the summit

View from the summit North East

View North East from the summit

The summit ridge

The summit ridge as seen from the summit

Jose going down the summit ridge

Jose going down the summit ridge

Jose going down the sharp summit ridge

Jose on the narrow summit ridge

 

 

We kept on moving while the sun was setting and stopped only for taking some pictures of the incredible views of the Alaskan range.

We just blindly followed the other crampon tracks down, but when we reached Denali pass we couldn't find our rope. It seemed that we had descended about 50 meter too much it took us quite a while to get back up again. We roped up at the start of the traverse which is also known as 'the Autobahn' named after the speedy way many climbers go down here, of which a large number are European. The next day we heard that it deserved it's name as one of the Austrian climbers we saw summiting slipped and fell over 250m down. He was very lucky as he only broke his nose and his ankle and he was taken off the mountain by a helicopter.

The rope got stuck again and we decided to descend the rest of the slope unroped. Like zombies we went down and it was after 23.00 when we finally reached our tent. Jose went to sleep immediately, but I was so dehydrated that I need some fluid first and I started to melt some water. Just when it was starting to cook, the sun disappeared behind one of the ridges and the temperature dropped to -25. I drank about 1,5 liters of soup and energy drink while shivering all over and then crawled into my warm sleeping bag.

The next morning the weather was still nice and one of the climbers that didn't make it yesterday went for the summit with a ranger. We got up very slowly again, still tired but satisfied after the successful summit day. The clouds were still at 4200m level and the view down the ridge was amazing. I shot some film of the scenery and in the afternoon we went down to base camp. We had to stop several times to take pictures of the beautiful ridge between 5200m and 4900m while other tired climbers slowly made their way up the ridge. The mountain was completely surrounded by a blanket of clouds and only the ridge we were standing on and Mt Foraker in the distance were able to poke through, verrrry nice!

When we came to 4900 we had to use the fixed lines again, but going down is just a bit trickier than going up as you have to face the 40-60 degrees slope while descending. The ice was crunchy and was shattering under our feet; we were very glad that the fixed lines were in place!

After the lines it was just another hour to base camp and (again exhausted) we dumped our backpacks in front of Jose's TNF Mountain Tent that was waiting for us. The base camp was fully packed and the bringing of the extra tent probably saved us from making a new campsite.

We discussed the next day and decided to try to bring al our stuff down to base camp in one day. But the next morning Jose didn't want to wake up until late and it was already 14.30 when we left. We had almost 2 weeks worth of fuel and food left and we gave that to a group of Spanish climbers who were very happy with the Hamburgers, Parmesan cheese and chocolate! Even without the food our packs were about 30kg each and the descend was very hard (We each carried a tent now and had all our gear we took up in two separate carries; also we had al our garbage to carry down).

Jose was going fast and I asked him to take a rest around Windy Corner but he wanted to rest further down. I was really tired and it didn't take long until one of my crampons got stuck behind my other feet and I tripped. It was not on a very steep part, but I landed on my knee and the weight of the backpack made it quite painful. I shouted to Jose that I needed a rest now, but he said that that this was not a good place, that it was all in my head and continued, pulling the rope and me with it. Meanwhile we were inside the clouds and it was very windy, but my knee wouldn't let me descend on a high speed and I tripped again. This time my thermos filled with warm tea slipped out of its pocket and before I could grab it, it slid down the icy slope, full speed over the edge.

I was tired and getting really pissed off now and shouted to Jose that I did want to stop now, as this Motorcycle Hill was not really a place to trip and slide down as there was an even steeper and icier part ahead. I walked slowly towards Jose, and we got into a heated discussion! Harsh words fell towards the both of us, but the moment I I said the magic words 'Fuck You Jose, I am going to rest now' he got crazy. He approached me, eyes wide open and shouted that no-one talks to him like that and before I could move he put the sharp end of his pickel to my throat, threatening to push it if I didn't 'behave'.

I was really getting angry now, but kept my calm and said and did completely nothing but staring back until he lowered his ice axe. This was not the best place to get into a physical fight and I wanted to get down the mountain as soon as possible.

After a few moments we started moving again without saying another word until we reached the Motorcycle camp. The clouds were very thick now and we could not see more than 50 meters. We found our cache, marked with our skis and dug up our big red North Face duffel bags and the two sleds we hid under the snow.

There were a few Swiss people in our old camp and they invited us in for a cup of pasta, which we gladly accepted. This also forced us to talk again which broke the ice a little bit between Jose and me. I went to him and said that we reached the summit together and that I wanted to get off the mountain together too and he agreed.

We discussed about the best way to get these heavy sleds downhill through the snow and decided to let it slide before us, while skiing behind it, tied to the sled with a few schlinges. This was actually quite fun, although not really effective and it took us almost an hour to get down the hill. There we changed placed with the sleds and dragged it down. Every time the slope was a bit steeper my sled would pass and either flip over itself or flip me over so it was not the easy ride down we had hoped for. After another disastrous descent on Ski Hill (were I took off my skies and walked down and still was faster than Jose skiing). We decided that we'd better spend another night on the mountain as it would be at least another few hours to the landing strip and it was after midnight already (but still light!)

We pitched only our inner tent, made some food and went to sleep.

The following day Jose spent over two hours getting up and organizing his stuff before we could continue and we left at noon. This last part was almost horizontal, but 9 km long and Jose was clearly very tired as he kept going slower and slower (it's just in the head right?).

He asked me to go ahead and I continued with a firm pace, but he could not keep up so I had to wait every few minutes. Just when we reached the last hill -named heartbreak hill because it's actually 180m up- I noticed that I didn't have to stop for the last 10 minutes and I looked back. Jose had untied the rope without letting me know, because of the weight of the rope I had not felt the difference and he was several hundreds of meters behind. This made me very angry and gave me an energy boost that took me up the hill in no time. Halfway up I untied as well, leaving the rope on the hill for Jose to pick up and continued to the base camp manager.

She had bad news: the clouds were so thick that we would not be able to leave today, and maybe not even tomorrow. I went outside to tell Jose who was approaching, but he didn't answer and went to the campsite to pitch his tent. I joined a few other waiting climbers into the fuel storage and we had actually a fun evening, with 3 rolls of chocolate chip cookies we got from the rangers, a bottle of gin from a Canadian climber and lots of good stories from the mountain! The storage tent was half-filled with boxes containing 6 gallons of Coleman fuel each (the stuff we cooked on on the mountain) and I spent that night on top of more than 750 liters of explosives, which made it probably my most dangerous night ever!

The next morning it was still cloudy and we spent the day inside the basecampmanager's big tent solving riddles and exchanging stories. She told us that last week some climbers had seen a bear on the mountain at 2300m altitude. They were not completely sure, but it had happened a few times before, one time the bear was even inside a tent and another time one had fallen into a crevasse...

Just as we were preparing for another night on the fuel cans a patch of blue sky appeared and within an hour about 6 Cessna planes arrived. There was a long line of waiting climbers in Talkeetna and therefore there were enough spaces to take us all out. On the way we encountered a hailstorm but the flight was as enjoyable as on the way over.

We decided to spend another night in Talkeetna with the other climbers we met; (Jose and I did talk to each other and actually had quite a good time, but our ways parted the next day.) First we went in to the laundry, not for our socks, but for ourselves! There were hot showers and you never appreciate such things until you are deprived from it for 3 weeks... The famous Roadhouse was not serving dinners yet so we went for a big McKinley pizza and then continued to the Fairview inn. This place is known for the mix of climbers and locals and we had a good time until late at night, drinking many pitchers of Canadian beer, while the Alaskan music was played live by a band called Yukon Rider.

That's it!!! The rest of the time I spent in Seward, where I walked up Mt Marathon (900m) which is actually a race every year (43 minutes is the record for the ascent and descent!); I went on a cruise and saw whales, orcas sea lions, sea otters and a 'tourist' glacier up close; I went to Homer and spent a few days in Anchorage hiking, mountain biking and relaxing. 

I have seen no bears, but did see two big moose, of which one up close, come see the video!

CU all soon and thanks again for the support!

Thanks and keep climbing, Harry

***********************************************

The Denali trip 4 Warchild team is sponsored by:

* The North Face Outdoor Gear: http://www.thenorthface.com 

* ESIRE e-consultancy: Http://www.esire.net 

* Suunto Wristcomputers: altimeters and more!: Http://www.suunto.fi 

* Radical Design backpacks: http://www.Radicaldesign.nl 

* Northern Mountain Supply: Online outdoor gear: Http://www.killerdeals.com 

* Talkeetna Air: Denali flightseeing tours!: Http://www.talkeetnaair.com 

Http://www.7summits.com !

Harry on the 17000ft ridge

Harry at 5100m, in the distance, Foraker is poking it's head through the clouds

Climbers descending the headwall to 14000ft camp

View from the headwall towards base camp and Hunter

 

Why climb?

Wise words from Mallory, as seen in the rangers place, Talkeetna

 

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3