Climb Details

Cost:
Deposit:
Length:
Difficulty:
Type:

$8500
$4250
21 day(s)
Level 4 difficulty 
Mountaineering

Availability

Please call for program dates.

Upcoming Climbs

May 29, 2014 - FULL

Guide(s):

Eric Frank, Geoff Schellens


Mt. McKinley (20,320'), also known as Denali, is the highest peak in North America and considered one of the most impressive mountains in the world. McKinley's Upper West Rib Route is an inspiring and aesthetic line that climbs the steep south face from 14,200' to the summit ridge. High altitude, Alaskan weather, and the technical and committing nature of this route have drawn climbers to the Upper West Rib for over 50 years. Expedition highlights include:

  • Navigate the enormous Kahiltna Glacier up the flanks of Mt. McKinley, establishing high camp at 14,200' in Denali's Genet Basin.
  • Weave through the granite rocks and snow ridgeline above McKinley's south face on a summit bid up McKinley's Upper West Rib.
  • Join an expedition structured for success: no pre-determined ending date and a flexible itinerary gives our expedition the freedom to make a summit bid on a timeline dictated by the mountain and the climbing team.
  • Climb with experienced RMI Guides, benefiting from their background, training, and expertise as you venture to high altitudes.

McKinley Upper West Rib

RMI's Upper West Rib Expedition approaches on the West Buttress Route, ascending the Kahiltna Glacier to Advanced Base Camp at 14,200'. From here, we move onto the Upper West Rib, climbing the prominent ridgeline toward the mountain's summit. The route offers spectacular exposure with climbing on 35 -45+° snow, ice, and mixed terrain. We acclimatize and train before moving onto the Upper West Rib, which requires endurance and stamina for the push from 16,300' to the top of North America. After reaching the summit, we descend the West Rib or return via the West Buttress route, depending on conditions and weather.

The Upper West Rib Expedition is ideal for climbers with strong technical backgrounds and experience at altitude. The climb is led with a 2 to 1 climber to guide ratio and a maximum of 6 climbers and 3 guides. These small ratios ensure extensive personal guidance and the highest level of safety on this committing route.

Prior to making your reservation, RMI must review your climbing resume in writing. Please complete the McKinley Registration Form and email or fax to our office.

THE RMI DIFFERENCE

RMI was established in 1969 and is one of America's oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. We have guided on Mt. McKinley since 1975 and have led over 300 expeditions on the mountain.

The remote and inhospitable landscape of Denali's slopes necessitate that all the finer points of an expedition are addressed and our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips; we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Our preparation before departure helps you with the trip logistics, from the expedition planning, to help with travel plans, to mountain flights with K2 Aviation - so that you can focus on preparing for the climb. RMI does not establish final end dates to our expeditions, giving us the flexibility to take into account considerations such as weather, route conditions, acclimatization and the strength of the climbing team while on the mountain. This flexibility allows us to move higher when the weather permits and climbers are ready, not just because of the need to adhere to a pre-determined schedule.

Upper West Rib on DenaliClimbing on the Upper West Rib

Our Mt. McKinley Upper West Rib Expedition is led by RMI’s foremost guides and a small climber-to-guide ratio ensure that each climber has the highest level of support possible. Our guides bring years of climbing experience on not only McKinley but on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Antarctic to the Himalayas. With over 35 years of accumulated knowledge guiding Denali, our guides are second to none. The guides closely monitor climbers' performance and acclimatization throughout the team's ascent and will make day-to-day variations in order to better your chances of reaching the summit. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated.

SAFETY

Safety has always been RMI's top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI's experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same strict standards of safety we bring to the Antarctic and the Himalayas to our climbs of McKinley's Upper West Rib. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, flexibility in our itinerary, and diligent attention is taken as we venture to high altitudes. Additional resources are stationed at Base Camp and 14,000' Camp and comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the climb.

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.

NPS Authorized ConcessionerAuthorized Concessioner

RMI Expeditions is an authorized concessioner of Denali National Park and Preserve.

Mt. McKinley Upper West Rib Equipment List

Whittaker Mountaineering

The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.

Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2014.


Pack & Bag Guides' Pick

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DUFFEL BAG: A 100+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers. This duffel will be used on the mountain to transport gear in your sled.


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BACKPACK: A 90+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb.   Your pack  must be large enough for your layers, climbing gear, and food, as well as a portion of your tent and group load (kitchen equipment). A separate summit pack isn't necessary.


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SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated to -20° to -30° F. Either goose down or synthetic, with ample room for movement. Most guides prefer down, because it is lightweight and compactable. A waterproof bag is preferred, but not mandatory.
The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth. Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range. Using two sleeping bags together is not recommended.


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SLEEPING PAD - CLOSED FOAM: A second full-length or 3/4 length closed cell foam pad. This pad is used in combination with the first sleeping pad.


Technical Gear Guides' Pick

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ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.


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ICE HAMMER: A second technical ice climbing tool of 50 - 55 cm will be needed.


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CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.


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1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.


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6 NON-LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for pack ditch loop, etc.


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HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.


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CRAMPONS: The 12-point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal.


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AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.


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TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.


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MECHANICAL ASCENDER: For traveling on fixed ropes. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.


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Two 60 cm 'single-length' pre-sewn slings.


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Two 120 cm 'double-length' pre-sewn slings.


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20' of nylon accessory cord for miscellaneous lashing.


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Three bungee cords (approximately 12” – 18” each).


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25' of 6mm perlon cord for sled tether, sled prussik and backpack 'ditch loop'.


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SNOWSHOES: Select a short to medium length model of snowshoe. The 22" model and the optional heel lift work well for most climbers. Team members are more often 'drafting' as opposed to actually breaking trail, so it is not necessary to have a longer pair. The 'shoes should have an attached claw or crampon for better purchase. Miles of roped glacier travel will be logged wearing snowshoes. It is recommended to spend some time walking in them prior to the trip.


Head Guides' Pick

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WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.


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BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.


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2 PAIR GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.


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GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.


HEADLAMP IS NOT REQUIRED FOR THIS TRIP


Hands

Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.


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HEAVY WEIGHT INSULATED GLOVE OR MITTEN: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves or mittens. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.


Upper Body

We recommend six upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Three of these should be insulating layers, one light, one medium and one heavy that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.


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2 LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.


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RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood.  We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.


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DOWN PARKA WITH ATTACHED HOOD: This item becomes of highest importance when we are faced with poor weather. This should be an expedition-style parka. The parka is worn primarily in camp, at rest breaks, and on summit day (when it is of crucial importance). When sizing a parka, allow for several layers to be worn underneath; buy it large. The parka must have an insulated hood.


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SPORTS BRA: We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.


Lower Body

We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.


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CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.


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RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.


Feet Guides' Pick

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MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Expedition-style double boot, with high altitude expedition-style inner boot is mandatory. Price is the best indicator. Though expensive, the function of footwear is of crucial importance. Select a brand's "top of the line" model and it should be sufficient for Denali. The boot needs to be roomy enough to allow for good circulation. Anticipate a sock combination when sizing them (single sock, liner and sock, or two heavy socks on each foot). The idea is to adequately fill the volume of the boot, and to insulate. Wear the boots as often as possible before the climb, to determine proper fit, comfort and performance. Intuition liners may be considered if you're looking to upgrade plastic boots for additional warmth, comfort and performance.


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OVERBOOTS: Expedition overboots add significant warmth, especially at high altitude. All-in-one mountaineering boots do not need the added insulation of overboots.


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BOOTIES: Goose down or synthetic fill. Booties can be worn inside of the overboots while walking around camp, which allows an opportunity to dry out inner boots.


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GAITERS: We recommend a knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing.


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4+ PAIR OF SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.


Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick

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LIP BALM: We recommend SPF 15 or higher.


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SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.


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MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.


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2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.


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2 - 3 INSULATED WATER BOTTLE COVERS: These help prevent freezing. It should completely cover the bottle.


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5 - 6 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.


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ALKALINE BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.


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CAMERA


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LIGHTER


Toilet Articles

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TOOTHBRUSH


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HAND SANITIZER(S): Personal size (2 oz.) bottle.


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PEE BOTTLE: 1 to 1 1/2 quart size


Personal First Aid Kit

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BAND-AIDS


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ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL


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BLISTER TREATMENT

 
Dr. Scholl's Blister Cushions and Moleskin
 
Spenco 2nd Skin

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ANTACIDS


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IMODIUM (ANTI-DIARRHEA)


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PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)


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SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE


Personal Medications

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ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.


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TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain


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ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness


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DEXAMETHAZONE: For HACE.


Utensils Guides' Pick

Optional Items Guides' Pick

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SLEEPING MASK


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READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL


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THERMOS: One-half liter capacity, maximum.


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MOSQUITO REPELLENT: For Talkeetna.


Pre-Trip Checklist

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Purchase travel insurance.


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Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.


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Arrange Lodging in Talkeetna.


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Purchase airplane tickets.


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Reserve rental equipment.


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Arrange Transportation to Talkeetna.


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Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!


Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, shovels, climbing ropes, climbing anchors, and avalanche probes.

Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.

Each member will have a sled for use during the program. Sleds aid in transporting loads between camps on the lower mountain.