Denali, West Rib, Variation. Jason McHam and I climbed the West Rib route on Denali, sum- mitting on June 26. We believe we made two variations to the standard route. The first variation, from 11,000 to 12,800 feet, is a section of Alaska Grade 4 rock and ice (5.7 to 5.9). The route is high angle with rockfall. It starts at a large diamond-faced rock and travels up the ridge west of the initial couloir.
The second variation, from 17,600 to 19,000 feet, lies between the Orient Express and the traditional West Rib upper couloir section. The route is straight up a rock and ice section of the buttress to the 19,000-foot plateau by the Kahiltna Horn exit. The travel is Alaska grade 4+ (5.9, poor if any anchors). A two-man team from New Zealand and the U.K. followed our route two days later because they did not like the postholing in the névé/slop snow. Brad Washburn and Roger Robinson believe these were new variations to the West Rib route.
Michael S. Smith