Denali Summit Day

Elevation Gain:  From High Camp to the summit = 3,120' (17,200' to 20,320')

Distance:  2.5 miles

Time:  The trip from high camp to the summit and back takes most parties 13-14 hours and is usually the hardest day of the expedition.

From High Camp we cross a long flat section of glacier and gain the slope leading to Denali Pass known as "the Autobahn". There are fixed pickets along this section of the route and the climbing can be on anything from deep winter snow to bullet-proof blue ice.

After reaching Denali Pass at 18,200 feet, climbers traverse across another long fairly flat section called the "Football Field" after which we ascend the last and final slope, "Pig Hill", below the incredible summit ridge.

Because of the high altitude and harsh conditions we try to minimize time spent at high camp. More than one AAI team has endured foul weather and conditions for as long as a week before getting a break for a summit attempt. Most groups spend 3-4 days at high camp.

  Video: The view from the top of North America (May take a while to load depending on connection speed)


An AAI team gearing up at high camp on their summit day.

Approaching the base of the Autobahn and chasing the shade away on summit day.

Enjoying views of High Camp and Foraker from the Autobahn.

Climbers on the headwall (The Autobahn) with High Camp below.

Looking up towards Denali Pass from the Autobahn.

Reaching Denali Pass.

Above Denali Pass near 19,000 feet.

Looking up towards the base of the Football Field above Denali Pass.

Climbers nearing the Football Field with Pig Hill in the distance.

Approaching the base of Pig Hill, the last obstacle before the summit ridge.

Looking up the final length of ridge to the summit of Denali.

An AAI group walking along the final bit of ridge below the summit of Denali.

Just below the summit.

On the summit at 20,320 feet.


Learn more about American Alpine Institute's Denali Climb  >>


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