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North America, United States, Alaska, Denali National Park, Other Ascents

Denali National Park, other ascents. The following information supplements the individual reports above. Ian Welsted and Chris Brazeau started up the Denali Diamond after the Japanese party (see above), and though they skipped the upper four pitches (including the crux), traversing off left to the Kahiltna Horn, they spent 44 hours on the face and a mere 73 hours round-trip from the landing strip.

On Mt. Foraker, the Talkeetna Ridge, known for its elaborate cornices and having only two prior ascents (the 1968 FA and 1986 first alpine-style ascent), saw two rapid ascents in early May. Both parties, Sue Nott and John Varco, then Dave Nettle and Aaron Zanto a week later, found fun, moderate climbing without any significant cornices—likely due to the exceptionally warm and dry season and the effects of climate change experienced throughout the range and beyond. Nettle and Zanto used a variant start: “We followed the ridge closely, except for a logical direct variation up a 3,000-foot thin ribbon of snow that splits a large triangular face above the upper Lacuna Glacier and joins the main ridge at 12,000'.” Nott and Varco also climbed McKinley and Hunter, becoming the fourth and fifth people to climb the three prominent peaks in one season.

As another example of typically fearsome corniced ridges being in excellent condition, on May 19-20, Nate Opp and Eric Pallister climbed Mt. Huntington’s French Ridge from base camp in a 26-hour round trip.

On Mt. Barrill in the Ruth Gorge, on June 29, Ryan Nelson and Jared Ogden made the fifth ascent of the Cobra Pillar and the first free ascent of both the route (with variations) and the east face. On the third and final previous aid section, a hooking headwall on pitch 18, they found a wet crack variation to the right. They rated the route 5.11+ and made incredible time, climbing the route in 15 hours (20 hours roundtrip from camp).