What a great trip! Clay, Rick and I spent a couple of weeks on Denali. Anyone familiar with the Alaska Range knows that the weather is one of the biggest challenges there. If it's snowing, blowing or severely cold, it makes otherwise straightforward routes like the West Buttress completely impossible. Something like half of all attempts on Denali fail, almost all of those due to severe weather.
And so we were shocked and pleased to have perfect weather for our entire trip! We had planned one full week of weather days into our itinerary, and never used one. We did get to experience some of the harsh conditions that Denali is known for, but they coincided with our rest / acclimatization days. We must have earned some good mountain karma somewhere along the line...
Twelve days after landing on the Kahiltna Glacier, Clay and I walked to the tippy-top of the continent in crystal clear and calm weather. It was a soul-quenching experience to see that much of Alaska from one vantage point.
My favorite part about this trip was what I learned. It took us rookies a lot of planning, organizing, budgeting, experimenting and practicing to pull off such a big adventure. Last year, when we first started thinking about Denali, the whole idea felt extremely daunting. After our positive experience on the mountain, I feel like I learned a lot. A lot about being a mountaineer, and a lot about myself. I can look back at what was daunting then, and see that I accomplished those things. That kind of success makes me confident and optimistic for other things that seem daunting now, whether in mountaineering or in life.