Expedition with Marabut
 
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Denali (6 194 m) – North America
Denali (6 194 m) – North America
Denali: - 40ºC; hurricane winds; numb hands and frozen fingers. We are on the top of Denali. It took us ten days of climbing to reach the peak of the highest mountain in North America, but for us our main goal was not achieved yet. We were there not to conquer the West Buttress route.

Denali: - 40ºC; hurricane winds; numb hands and frozen fingers. We are on the top of Denali. It took us ten days of climbing to reach the peak of the highest mountain in North America, but for us our main goal was not achieved yet. We were there not to conquer the West Buttress route.
A few days after leaving Krakow we were on board of a small plane to reach our Base Camp (2130 m ASL). Small Cessna was packed with four climbers, a pilot and a lot of equipment (60 kg per person). The flight took about 40 minutes and ended with a thrilling landing on the Kahiltna glacier at Mount Hunter. In the base camp we picked some cooking fuel that we had paid for at Talkeetna and we hit the road. Nice weather lifted our spirits as we started our trek up to Talkeetna glacier, dragging our equipment on the pulks.
After 12 hours of marching, passing in the meantime Camp I (2340 m ASL), we reached Camp II (2845 m ASL). There we could feel that we were on the coldest mountain in the world. Tactics applied by climbers for this mountain is generally a little different than in other parts of the world. We usually were getting up around 9 am and started to climb around 10am – 11am (only the glacier was passed in the night-time). I took us another two days to reach Camp IV, which is often called “14” as it is situated at the height of 14,200 feet (4 325 m ASL). We stopped for a short break. There, we were proven that weather forecasts for this area could not be treated seriously.

We decided attack the mountain quickly via West Buttress route (the route was led for the first time in 1951 by the team of B. Washburn), (Alaska Grade 2) that would take us from "14" to the top. We left the camp at 5 am, but unfortunately, at „17" (Camp V, at 5250 m ASL) a snow-storm broke out and we were forced to return to our Marabut tent in "14".
Really bad weather lasted for one week. When the conditions improved a bit, we decided to move to "17". We took food for 5 days, burying the rest in snow and marking the spot with a special mark. The route from "14" to "17" initially led us along fixed ropes to the pass, from which we walked on the exposed ridge covered with snow and rocks, to reach an extensive plateau. After a one-day rest, we wanted to continue along West Buttress route to get to the top.

At 12.00 noon, we left our tent as the last climbing team. This late departure proved to be a good decision as the violent and cold wind stopped in the afternoon when we were still fresh, unlike other climbers that had to struggle with it longer. After few hours we reached Kahiltna Horn, a spot separated from the top only by an exposed ridge, full of snow overhangs. On June 8, at 7 pm we reached the peak of Denali (6 194 m ASL).
We took only few photos as the temperature on the top was really low. Around 10 pm we were back in our tent in “17”. For the whole next day we were collecting materials and samples for our glaciology research (“Mountain glaciers of the world" – a work carried out under the guidance of prof. Jan Lach of Pedagogical University of Cracow), and then we descended to "14". We considered our climbing along West Buttress route as a preparation and acclimatization before our main goal – quick ascent along West Rib Cut Off route (Alaska Grade 4), which starts and finishes in camp "14".
 
To complete this challenge we had to wait for good and stable weather. While waiting for the proper moment, we rested and talked with Vlado Zboja from Zuberec who camped next to us. Finally, we decided to attack the peak on June 18. It took us 19 hours to cover the distance of 1800 metres to the top, along West Rib Cut Off route and to return to "14" (using West Buttress route). After this success, we just had to wait for a suitable time to descent to the Base Camp. For safety reasons, we covered this distance in one night, booking into a list of persons waiting for the plane to Talkeetna at 5 am. Five hours later we were sitting in West Rib bar in Talkeetna, where we discussed the further parts of the trip, sipping beer.
Text and photos: Michał Apollo, Marek Żołądek
 
 
The members of the expedition used Arco tent



OUR TESTERS
 
Ola is a climber, mountaineer and ski-mountaineer, who participated in many journeys and  adventures. As a first Polish woman, she climbed Gasherbrum II (8035 m ASL) and extremely dangerous Pik Pobeda (7439 m ASL).
 
 
Marek Żołądek – a traveller, and mountaineer who participated and co-organized many climbing and research expeditions that took him across 6 continents, e.g. the Himalayas, Andes, Alaska Range, Africa, Europe, Caucasus Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, Tierra del Fuego and Australia.
 
Maciek Ciesielski - a climber and author of many climbing routes in the Alaska Range, Asian mountains, Yosemite Mountains, Alps, Tatra Mountains, Karkonosze. Maciek is also a climbing instructor and a rescuer (a member of TOPR -Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue).
 
 
Michał Apollo - a traveller, climber and mountaineer. He participated and co-organized many expeditions including: the Himalayas, Andes, Southern Alps, Caucasus Mountains, Great Dividing Range, Alaska Range, European mountains, Kilimanjaro Range, Cape Fold Belt and the Rocky Mountains.