American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Mt. McKinley, Zanto's Riches

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Mt. McKinley, Zanto’s Riches. Torrey Riches and I summited the North Peak of Denali on May 15, via the Northwest Buttress. We spent 11 days acclimatizing on the West Buttress and three days climbing the Northwest Buttress. Our original plan was to make the first alpine ascent of the 1982 Bocarde Variation. However, when we arrived on the lower Peters Glacier the 1982 variation was out of shape. We spotted a new line approximately one-half mile up the glacier. The new variation, Zanto’s Riches (Alaskan Grade 4) climbed 5,000 feet of new terrain through a glaciated plateau, a steep headwall, and an icefall. It connects with the original Northwest Buttress route at the top of the first rock pyramid. The crux of the variation is a 55-degree ice headwall, which we named Toydoy’s Headwall. We slept at 12,000 feet and 16,500 feet. After summiting the North Summit on a low-visibility day, we returned to our high camp and the next day continued to the 14,000-foot camp on the West Buttress. During the climb we subsisted mainly on GU. By the time we reached the safety of the West Buttress, we had exhausted our three-day supply of food and fuel.

The North Summit of Denali has no crowds and has stunning views. The most inspirational part of the climb was proving to ourselves that out there on huge and popular peaks there are still unclimbed lines that moderate climbers can do in style.

Aaron Zanto, AAC

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