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Mt. McKinley
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West Buttress 
West Rib, The 

West Buttress 

Mod. Snow

   
Type:  Snow, Alpine, 12500'
FA: 1951 Brad Washburn
Season: Late April - Late June
Page Views: 8,262
Submitted By: R Squared on Apr 29, 2007

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BETA PHOTO: The West Buttress

Register with the NP Mountaineering Headquarters in Talkeetna, AK before climbing in the park!

Description 

The West Buttress is often considered the handicap ramp to the top of Denali. It is the easiest route to the top but it can still kill you very quickly. The route has around 12,500 ft. of elevation gain. Weather can change in a heartbeat so come prepared for anything.

Location 

The route starts at 7,200 feet on the Kahiltna Glacier and climbs all the way to 20,320 feet. 14 miles long so come in shape and prepared.

Protection 

There are fixed lines on the route so bring jumars. Ice axe, good winter tent, stove, fuel, food, motivation, patience, the proper clothing.


Photos of West Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
On Denali's West Buttress 6/11/2007.  Photo: Joel Schenk
On Denali's West Buttress 6/11/2007. Photo: Joel ...
Well....  is that it??
Well.... is that it??
Summit Ridge
Summit Ridge
Looking up at the summit from our food cache just past windy corner.  June 2003
Looking up at the summit from our food cache just ...
Day 1 of your trip, on the ground at Kahiltna Base Camp, 7,200 feet on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.  Looking down the landing strip toward the main Kahiltna Glacier.  Mount Crosson is the peak in the background.  You begin your trek up the West Buttress by walking down the hill - it's called "Heartbreak Hill" for the experience that you'll have on the way back up at the end of your trip - and turning right to begin the slog up the Kahiltna Glacier.
Day 1 of your trip, on the ground at Kahiltna Base...
Headed down Hearbreak Hill from Base Camp beside the Base Camp landing strip, at about 7,100 feet.  Mount Hunter (14,570 feet) in the background.
Headed down Hearbreak Hill from Base Camp beside t...
Advanced Base Camp, 6,800 feet, and the view up the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier with the west side of Denali in the background.
Advanced Base Camp, 6,800 feet, and the view up th...
A day at 14K.
A day at 14K.
Advanced Base Camp, 6,800 feet.  Stop gawking at Denali and look to your left.  That's Ski Hill ... your introduction to the pain and glory of carrying all of that junk you brought with you up a steep hill.  Beyond, opportunities for exposed camps in whiteout conditions at roughly 9,000 and 10,000 feet.
BETA PHOTO: Advanced Base Camp, 6,800 feet. Stop gawking at D...
A common sight on the West Butt route.  A line of climbers marching up at the top of ski hill.
BETA PHOTO: A common sight on the West Butt route. A line of ...
Looking back down the Kahiltna Glacier from the top of Ski Hill, at about 7,500 feet.  Advanced Base Camp is visible in the middle of the glacier.
Looking back down the Kahiltna Glacier from the to...
Siege the Day. Leaving 14,000 camp for 17,000 camp.
Siege the Day. Leaving 14,000 camp for 17,000 camp...
cribbage...lots and lots of cribbage
cribbage...lots and lots of cribbage
please email denaliresearchproject@gmail.com for more information
BETA PHOTO: please email denaliresearchproject@gmail.com for m...
The West Buttress Camp at 11,300 feet.  On this day, home to the Western State College (Gunnison, Colorado) Mountaineers.
The West Buttress Camp at 11,300 feet. On this da...
Motorcycle Hill, above the 11,300 foot camp.  The smoking pile in the background is the west end of the West Buttress.
BETA PHOTO: Motorcycle Hill, above the 11,300 foot camp. The ...
Evan...
Evan...
Looking down at the 11,300 foot camp from the top of Motorcycle Hill.
BETA PHOTO: Looking down at the 11,300 foot camp from the top ...
Denali Pass from 17K.
Denali Pass from 17K.
If the climb to this point at the top of Motorcycle Hill doesn't make you cry, the climb from here up to Squirrel Point might.  The west end of the West Buttress is the rock massif in the background.  The route follows the boot track that appears in this photo, and then follows easier, but breezier, ground (not visible in this photo) on the right side of the West Buttress.
BETA PHOTO: If the climb to this point at the top of Motorcycl...
ABC in the Genet Basin. Messner Coular in the background.
ABC in the Genet Basin. Messner Coular in the back...
The view down valley from the top of Kahiltna Glacier, looking over ski hill.
The view down valley from the top of Kahiltna Glac...
Looking down the route from Windy Corner toward Squirrel Point, as climbers make their way up from 12,000 feet.  This stretch can be wonderfully sunny or brutally windswept, and may be snow covered (as in this photo) or an exposed scree field.  There's a reason they call it Windy Corner.  Guided teams commonly cache loads along this stretch and descend to "sleep low" in the camp at 11.300 feet.
BETA PHOTO: Looking down the route from Windy Corner toward Sq...
The Belly of the Beast: The west face of Denali, viewed from about 13,700 feet.  The large camp at 14,000 feet is just out of sight, on top of the plateau that cuts across the middle of this photo.  From this point you can see the West Buttress (ascend to the top of the Buttress via a slope & couloir just left of center), the Messner Couloir (just left of the large expanse of rock at center) and the Orient Express (right of center) on the west face of Denali.  High camps on the West Rib are in the center of the skyline on the right, and the West Rib ascends the upper slopes of the Orient Express.  The fuzz on top of the mountain is a giant cloud of wind blown snow, which suggests that it would be a really, really bad idea to go for the summit on this day.
BETA PHOTO: The Belly of the Beast: The west face of Denali, v...

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By mlloyd
From: denver
Nov 29, 2011

I'm looking for a partner to climb denali via the west buttress in june 2012. Email me if your into it...