The Rainbow Summits Project



“Everything was cold. Even our souls were cold.”
—Dougal Haston, In High Places (1972)

Background Information:

Also known as Mt. McKinley, Denali (which is the local Native American name for the mountain) is the highest peak in North America at 6,194m (20,320ft) above sea level. Many consider Denali to be the most physically difficult of the Seven Summits due to the physical exertion necessary to carry up all of one’s gear, equipment, and supplies for the three-week expedition.

Climbing Information:

Denali is primarily climbed in the late spring and early summer due to the mountain’s extremely cold temperatures. Though it requires some technical knowledge, the biggest danger on the mountain is the weather, which can be extraordinarily variable. The mountain’s most popular and easiest route is the West Buttress Route, but it is still very physically demanding and climbers routinely carry between 80-150lbs on their backs for several days of an expedition.

Fun Facts:

  • If measured from its base to the summit, Denali is in fact the Earth’s tallest mountain on land. In terms of prominence, it is the third highest (after Everest and Aconcagua).
  • Like Vinson Massif, Denali is known for its extremely cold temperatures, which have reached as low at -59.7˚ C (-75.5˚ F) and -83.4˚ C (-118.1˚ F) with windchill.
  • Due to a continuing name dispute, the mountain has two official names: According to the Alaska State Board, it is Denali, and according to the National Board, it is Mt. McKinley.
  • Denali is only 315km (196mi) from the Arctic circle.
  • There is a weather station located on the mountain at 5,800m (19,000ft), which is one of only two weather stations in the world located at or above 5,500m (18,000ft).

Cason’s Climb:

Cason spent five days at the West Buttress Route High Camp in his summit attempt, but weather shut down his expedition. He will climb it again June 15th to July 15th, again with Mountain Trip.

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Day 18: Weather Day

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

Another weather day…I finished Battlestar Galactica and also finished another book—a sci-fi class, Ender’s Game. I had actually purchased The Hunger Games a couple months ago because I had confused it with Ender’s Game. Turned out that both are fantastic … Continue reading

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Day 17: Weather Day

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

Well, no summit bid today. The weather worsened significantly overnight (as the forecast had predicted). The storm dumped a bunch of snow on us and the wind’s howling kept us awake most of the night. It is very difficult to … Continue reading

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Day 16: Move up to High Camp (17,200ft)

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

Well the weather hasn’t gotten bad yet. We made it up to High Camp in yet another day of splendid blue skies. The highlight of my day (and possibly my trip) came as we broached the top of Washburn’s Thumb, … Continue reading

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Day 15: Rest Day

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

I have a new obsession. Don’t mock me… I’m really into sci-fi and fantasy and I don’t know how I missed out on this series, but….here it is…I’m obsessed with Battlestar Galactica. No, not the original back from the 80’s, … Continue reading

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Day 13: Rest Day

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

Our first full rest day at Camp III. We did skills training; we learned how to ascend the fixed lines that will greet us when we ascend the Headwall tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve described how intimidating the Headwall looks … Continue reading

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Day 14: Cache at the 16,200ft Ridge

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

The verdict: not so bad. I guess my expectations were that it would be exceptionally difficult, but I honestly didn’t the Headwall to be particularly difficult. Granted, we weren’t carry that much in our packs, but it’s still a steep … Continue reading

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Day 12: Backcarry Windy Corner Cache

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

We had an “active” rest day today, which means that we walked down to Windy Corner and dug up the gear and food we had left there. All in all, it was a pretty easy and unremarkable day. The weather … Continue reading

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Day 11: Move up to Camp III (14,200ft)

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

Yes! We were able to pull two in a row and move up to Camp III—the famed “14k Camp”—today. The weather was better than yesterday and we had almost too much sun. It can really get hot! It took us … Continue reading

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Day 10: Cache at Windy Corner (13,700ft)

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

And it did improve! Thank goodness… It actually wasn’t looking very good when we woke up at 8am this morning. We had a team meeting to discuss our plan: go up, or stay here. A couple members of our team … Continue reading

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Day 8: Weather Day

Date: August 9, 2012 Category: Denali

The weather has gotten worse and we’re stuck at Camp II still. (We were supposed to put our cache in at Windy Corner today). One group did manage to move up today, but that was a risk that Joe was … Continue reading

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