Kahiltna Base Camp
Perched at 7,200 ft (2,195 m) elevation, Kahiltna Base Camp is the starting point for the majority of climbing expeditions in Denali National Park. The camp houses people from all over the world, especially during May and June. It is affectionately nicknamed the “Kahiltna International Airport”, thanks to the many planes that visit the camp each year.
In one of the Alaskan Native languages, this mountain is known as “Begguya”, or “Denali’s Child”. Don’t let the name fool you; Mount Hunter is still taller than the highest point in the continental United States. The 14,573 ft (4,442 m) tall mountain rests only 8 miles (13 km) south of Denali, and is crowned by a glacial plateau.
Don Sheldon Amphitheater
Named for a famous Alaskan bush pilot, the Amphitheater is a glacier-filled bowl a third of the way up Denali. With an ice-sheet surface almost a mile thick, the vast, flat landscape means that visitors can catch a great view of the surrounding mountains.
10 miles (16 km) from Denali, Ruth Glacier cuts a breathtaking picture into the Alaskan landscape– quite literally. This glacier measures 3,800 ft (1,158 m) deep, and many of our glacier landings take place here.
The Great Gorge
Over time, the Ruth Glacier has carved into the surrounding granite to create these picturesque stone walls up to 5,000 ft (1,524 m) above the glacier’s surface.
Also known as McKinley Glacier, this ice mass was once believed to be the only survivable route up Denali. The first landing by ski plane on the glacier was made by Joe Crosson in 1932.
An attempted climbing route up Denali, named for Judge James Wickersham, who led a team on the first attempt for the summit in 1903. The original Wickersham and his team only reached 10,000 ft (3,048 m) up the sheer face. Today, Wickersham Wall stands as a 13,652 ft (4,161 m) continuous drop.
“Denali” roughly translates to “the Great One”; it’s an impressive title, but doesn’t begin to describe the sheer awe that this 20,310 ft (6,190 m) giant inspires. Denali reigns as the highest mountain in North America, and the third highest of the Seven Summits.
Mount Foraker is the second highest peak in the Alaska Range, and third highest peak in the United States. This 17,400 ft (5,304 m) colossus has multiple native names, including “Sultana” (“The Woman”) and “Menlale” (“Denali’s Wife”). It was first climbed in 1934, and has been host to a series of expeditions since then.
Denali's West Buttress
A route to Denali’s summit, the West Buttress was pioneered by famous photographer Bradford Washburn in 1951. Today, the Buttress is the most popular route up the mountain.