• Denali Expedition 2016, The West Buttress

      Ramsey, Justin P. (University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-05-01)
      During the summer of 2016 the project team will conduct an expedition to climb the West Buttress of Denali. Denali is the highest peak in North America, with an elevation of 20,320 feet above sea level. The West Buttress is the most commonly climbed route starting at the Kahiltna Glacier and ascending to the summit. The three-week expedition requires robust planning prior to step-off since there will be no external support once started. Current expedition planning typically consists of ad hoc methods of planning, consisting of subject matter expert opinion and best guesses. The average summit rate for the past ten years on Denali hovers around 52% and the fatality rate hovers at three climbers a year. Unsuccessful attempts are often attributed to bad weather, injury, lack of fitness and lack of mountaineering knowledge. Can following systematic planning guidelines and establishing preexpedition go/no-go criteria for expeditions on Denali significantly increase safety and increase summit success? This project encompassed all pre-expedition planning and support. The project produced an itinerary for the threeweek expedition, researched and procured equipment for the team, researched high altitude nutrition and procured food items, developed a comprehensive physical fitness training plan for expedition members, and developed an expedition risk management plan. Will these deliverables ensure a more successful and safer expedition? Additionally, the detailed approach to expedition planning will allow the expedition team to establish a balance between unacceptably sparse and excessively burdensome equipment and supplies.