May – June
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22 days in Alaska
Grade: Advanced


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Denali, “The High One,” is one of the seven summits as well as the highest mountain in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet (6,168 m) above sea level. At some 18,000 feet, the base to peak rise is considered the largest of any mountain situated entirely above sea level. A Denali expedition is a serious undertaking and can take up to 22 days in Alaska. The climbing season on Denali is May – June when the weather is most ideal in the Alaska Range and the glaciers are still accessible. The weather can be extremely cold and frequent storms due occur.

Denali • West Buttress • 22 Days

The West Buttress is the standard route on Denali and ascends the massive Kahiltna Glacier from basecamp to camp at 14,400ft. First climbed by legendary mountaineer Brad Washburn in 1951.  It has long been considered one of the more remote and difficult of the Seven Summits, which makes a trip here unforgettable.

Mountain Gurus encourages you have previous climbing experience before attempting Denali. Although a guided expedition, self-reliance in the mountains and being a committed, contributing team member are important attributes of a safe and successful expedition. Climbs recommended prior to Denali include the glaciated peaks of the Pacific Northwest such as Mt. Rainier or Mt Baker as well as a 5-day Glacier Mountaineering Course.

It is also beneficial to have some high-altitude experience on international expeditions such as Mount Elbrus, Island Peak, Cotopaxi, Peaks in Peru, Bolivia, or Aconcagua.

We advise you to call our office and speak with us directly. Contact us for information!

*MG operates Denali climbs through an authorized concessionaire

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Talkeetna, Alaska • Gear check
Day 2 • Flight to Kahiltna Glacier • 7,300 ft
Day 3 • Move • Camp I • 7,800 ft
Day 4 • Carry • Kahiltna Pass to cache gear
Day 5 • Move • Camp II
Day 6 • Back carry • Kahiltna Pass
Day 7 • Carry • Windy Corner • 13,500 ft
Day 8 • Move • Camp III • 14,200 ft
Day 9 • Back carry • Windy Corner
Day 10 • Carry • 16,200 ft
Day 11 • Rest Day • Camp III
Day 12 • Move • Camp IV • 17,200 ft
Day 13 • Rest Day • Camp IV
Day 14 • Summit Day • Denali • 20,310 ft
Days 15-16 • Kahiltna Glacier Basecamp
Day 17 • Return to Talkeetna, AK
Days 18-22 • Contingency Days


Denali • West Buttress

Expedition begins and ends in Talkeetna, Alaska

Day 1 • Arrive Talkeetna, Alaska

Meet afternoon in downtown Talkeetna for group orientation, gear check, and expedition lunch packing.

Day 2 • Flight to Kahiltna Glacier • 7,300 ft

After breakfast we will stop by the park office for a mandatory presentation. If weather is good, we will board our plane in the afternoon and make the flight into the famous Alaska Range. (D)

Day 3 • Move • Camp I • 7,800 ft

This morning we will pack up the entire camp and descend Heartbreak Hill to gain the main fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. We will move our camp to the base of Ski Hill, which will serve as our Camp I at 7,800 ft. (B, L, D)

Day 4 • Carry • Kahiltna Pass

We will ascend Ski Hill in the morning with equipment and food for the upper mountain. This is a great way to acclimatize and get more familiar with pulling sleds. After caching our gear we will descend back to Camp I. (B, L, D)

Day 5 • Move • Camp II • 9,500 ft

Leaving Camp I behind we will take the remainder of our gear and food, establishing our Camp II at 9,500 ft. (B, L, D)

Day 6 • Back carry • Kahiltna Pass

Today we descend back to Kahitna Pass to collect our cached gear. This day is often shorter and a good way to acclimatize. (B, L, D)

Day 7 • Carry • Windy Corner • 13,500 ft

Ascending Motorcycle Hill we will carry equipment and food to Windy Corner. This will set us up well for moving to Camp III. (B, L, D)

Day 8 • Move • Camp III • 14,200 ft

We will move and set up at Camp III. (B, L, D)

Day 9 • Back Carry • Windy Corner

Today we descend back to Windy Corner to collect our cached gear. This day is often shorter and a good way to acclimatize. (B, L, D)

Day 10 • Carry • 16,500 ft

This will be the last carry of the expedition. We will ascend the fixed lines to 16,500 ft were we will cache gear for Camp IV. (B, L, D)

Day 11 • Rest Day • Camp III • 14,200 ft

Rest and recovery at Camp III. We will also review fixed line use in preparation for the next few days. (B, L, D)

Day 12 • Move • Camp IV • 17,200 ft

Moving back up the fixed lines we will collect our cache at 16,500 ft and continue along an exposed ridge line to Camp IV. (B, L, D)

Day 13 • Rest Day • Camp IV

Rest and recovery at Camp IV. (B, L, D)

Day 14 • Summit Day • Denali • 20,310 ft

Starting early, we will traverse the infamous Autobahn, a slope of 40 degrees, for a few hours before reaching Denali Pass. From here we will make our way along the summit plateau to Pig Hill and then the summit ridge line. After photos and celebrations, we return to Camp IV. (B, L, D)

Day 15 • Camp IV • 14,400 ft

We will collect our gear and descend the fixed lines back to Camp III for a short night’s sleep. (B, L, D)

Day 16 • Kahiltna Glacier Basecamp • 7,400 ft

Utilizing our sleds, we will descend the entire route back to basecamp. If weather and time are on our side, we will fly back to Talkeetna this afternoon. (B)

Day 17 • Depart Talkeetna

Depart Talkeetna, Alaska

Day 18 – 22 • Contingency Days

These days are built in to accommodate eventualities with weather, conditions, and team needs. (B, L, D)

Itinerary Notes
Mountain Gurus makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner




Deposit and Payments

  • Balance due at time of acceptance, due with application.
  • The deposit and balance can be paid by check, wire transfer, or by credit card with a convenience fee of 4.0%

Price Includes

  • Scheduled roundtrip flight to Kahiltna Glacier
  • National Park Service special use fees
  • Base camp fee
  • Tented accommodations
  • All meals on the mountain
  • Professional mountain guide
  • All group equipment for the expedition
  • Pre-rigged custom sleds

Price Does Not Include

  • International and domestic airfare and meals during travel
  • Meals and lodging in Anchorage and Talkeetna
  • Transportation to Talkeetna
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Personal gear
  • Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Early departure fees
  • Excess baggage fees
  • Tips and gratuities


A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in the PreClimb information upon reservation.

Head and Face

  • Warm Hat: Wool/ synthetic, one that covers the ears.
  • Buff or Neck Gaitor
  • Heavyweight Balaclava
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Glacier Glasses: Essential eye protection at altitude. Wrap around style or side shields.
  • Goggles: Dark lenses to help with snow and wind.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: Two synthetic long-sleeve shirts.
  • Mid-layer Top: This is a synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Hardshell Jacket: GORE-TEX© or a fully waterproof shell. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Light Insulated Jacket: Light synthetic insulated jacket
  • Expedition Down Parka: Insulated hood: 700+ fill down


  • Lightweight Gloves: One pair (WINDSTOPPER© is recommended)
  • Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.
  • Heavyweight Gloves: Insulated glove with GORE-TEX© or waterproof outer.
  • Expedition Down Mittens w/ wrist straps: One pair
  • Handwarmers / toe warmers: 3 sets of each

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: Two pair. Synthetic, no cotton
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© pants full-length side zips are required; you may need to take off your Hardshell pants without removing your boots.
  • Insulated Pants: One pair of synthetic insulated pants with full side zips.
  • Gaiters: Full-sized waterproof gaiters that must fit snugly over your mountaineering boots.


  • Mountaineering Boots: Full shank crampon compatible. Double plastic mountaineering boots or Heavy weight synthetic/ hybrid mountaineering boots or 8000 meter mountaineering boots are required.
  • Mediumweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks.
  • Heavyweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks for sleeping in and for summit day.

Note: Please read our Mountaineering Boot and Crampon guide for more information.


  • Sleeping Bag: Bring a warm bag (rated to minus 20ᵒ fahrenheit).
  • Sleeping Pads: A full-length closed-cell foam pad and inflatable pad.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 70-100L pack with good support, adequate to carry personal, and group gear. The pack should fit properly, have a good waist belt, and be able to carry gear between 45-60 lbs.
  • 20L waterproof stuff sack
  • Duffle/zip Bag: One large size, transporting gear via sleds.
  • Duffle/zip Bag: One medium size, store non-mountain gear during the expedition.
  • Liner Bags: 2-4 Large plastic contractor bags.

Climbing Gear

  • Ice Axe: 55-65cm mountaineering axe.
  • Crampons: 12-point steel with anti-balling plates.
  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Alpine Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops.
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and collapsible with snow baskets.
  • Locking Carabiners: (4) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-locking Carabiners: (4) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.
  • Ascender: Left or right handed
  • Rappel/Delay device: Figure 8 recommended
  • Prussik Cord: 40 feet, 6mm perlon
  • Nylon Sling: (2) 60cm nylon slings


  • Water Bottle: Two, 1L wide-mouth plastic bottles. NALGENE©
  • Water Bottle Parkas: Two, fully insulated water bottle covers.

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Small personal first-aid kit and medications
  • Plastic bowl, insulated mug, and spoon
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • Earplugs



Program Location:
Begins and ends in Talkeetna, Alaska

Visa/Entry Information:
No visa requirements for US citizens.

Health & Immunizations:
Immunizations are not required.

Flight Travel Information:
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Anchorage, Alaska

International Departures:
Itineraries reflect the date and time you will need to arrive in country for a program. Mountain Gurus programs begin and end in-country in the destination city. When booking your flight, you will need to account for travel time and crossing the international dateline if needed. It is easiest to give your booking agent the day and time you will need to arrive.

Meals and Food:
All meals are provided as per meal schedule. See itinerary.

A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your program will be sent to you in the pre-departure packet upon reservation. For your safety and comfort, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.

Denali Fitness & Training

Climbing Grade: Advanced   

Denali is considered perhaps the hardest of the Seven Summits due to its remote location and lack of any support. From the base to the summit this peak rises 13,000 ft, more than that of Everest. Once we land at basecamp our team will be completely self-sufficient. Using large packs and sleds we will move our gear up the mountain with a combination of carry and move days. Be prepared to carry at least 50 lbs. per day and pulling up to 100 lbs. with a sled.

Prior to the expedition we recommend taking at minimum a mountaineering course and climbing other high-altitude peaks.

Here’s a suggested progression of climbs before attempting Denali.

  • Northwest Climb (Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Shuksan)
  • Glacier Mountaineering Course
  • Aconcagua

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be able to contact friends and family while on the mountain?

This mountain is extremely isolated. There is no cell phone service or internet once we leave Talkeetna. A satellite phone will be on hand for emergency purposes.