American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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West Kahiltna Peak, West Ridge

United States, Alaska, Alaska Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Mark Westman
  • Climb Year: 2011
  • Publication Year: 2012

West Kahiltna Peak (3,914m/12,835') is just off of the Kahiltna Glacier, and every West Buttress ascensionist looks at its west ridge of as they make their home at Camp 1. It is the obvious ridge closest to the northeast fork of the Kahiltna and may have been climbed previously, but there were no recorded ascents prior to 2011.

On May 23 two Italians, Diego Giovannini and Fabio Meraldi, ascended the ridge in 12 hours and reported finding 75° ice and 5.8 on their Grade 4 route. The climbing was generally moderate and enjoyable, but the final section of the ridge was dangerously threatened by an overhanging serac. They descended the route by downclimbing and rappelling.

Japanese Yuto Inoue and Tatsuro Yamada may have climbed this line in 2008, while traversing West and East Kahiltna Peaks before ascending the Cassin Ridge. However, they perished near the summit of Denali, and as friends could not confirm their line of ascent, the truth may never be known. For now the Italians’ feat stands as the first recorded ascent.

– Mark Westman, Denali National Park and Preserve

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