JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. - Kit DesLauriers commences her attempt to be the first woman to ski Denali (Mount McKinley) from its summit. A team of four American alpinists from Jackson Hole, Wyo., will ascend the West Buttress Route before their attempt to ski and snowboard the Messner Couloir or Orient Express. Kit will be joined by her husband and skier, Rob DesLauriers, snowboarder John Griber and skier/photographer Chris Figenshau.
The expedition left Anchorage May 1. Base camp is at 7,200 feet on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. From there they will skin up to advanced base camp at 14,200 feet pulling all personal equipment with them via sleds. The descent will include a 4,800-foot couloir of 40-55 degrees, which should prove the ultimate test. The planned summit window will be between May 15 and May 24.
At 20,320 feet above sea level, extreme latitude and cold temperatures, a ski or snowboard descent of Denali is one of the premier ski mountaineering challenges. The first descent by a woman would be a prize for Kit DesLauriers, who has also added a Women's World Cup Extreme Skiing Championship and a first descent by a woman of Mount Aspiring in New Zealand to her resume in the past year.
Rob DesLauriers co-wrote the book on steep skiing, titled "Ski the Whole Mountain"
and is one of the top steep ski coaches in the world. Griber has a long list of pioneering snowboard descents from the Himalayas to the Tetons. Finally, Figenshau will document the ascent and descent with video and photo footage, on skis himself.