Field Report, April 29

April 29, 2016 Posted by: Maureen Guatlieri and Mark Westman



Mt. Foraker

Registered Climbers



Climbers Currently On Mountain



Completed Climbs



Number of Summits



Summit Percentage



The Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station also maintains a daily automated statistics phone line, so if this blog is lagging behind and you need up-to-date registration numbers, call (907) 733-9127.

Weather Conditions

7K weather observations, 8:00 am
Max temp: -7 C
Min  temp: -8 C
Current temp: -7 C
Per Lisa Roderick at basecamp, skies were cloudy this morning, with a light snow falling. Winds were calm, with max gusts of 5 mph from the west. basecamp received 2.5 cm of new snow overnight. Barometer was steady.

The National Weather Service mountain forecast is now available. 

Ranger Update

Alaska Range Backcountry Patrol (AKR) #1 - As of yesterday evening, NPS Rangers Dan Corn and Joey McBrayer were at 9,500 feet at the base of the Beckey Chimney on the West Ridge of Mount Hunter. They were waiting on weather to continue up.  

AKR #2 - NPS rangers Tucker Chenoweth and David Weber called in last evening from 10,400 feet on the southwest shoulder of West Kahiltna Peak. Weather and time permitting, they intend to traverse to East Kahiltna Peak.

Denali 14K Patrol #1 - The first Denali patrol flies into Basecamp on May 5 to start their ascent. The patrol will be led by Denali mountaineering rangers Chris Erickson and Melis Coady, who will be joined by two climbing rangers from Grand Teton National Park and two mountaineering Volunteers-in-Parks (VIPs).  

Route Conditions

Climber check-ins are steadily building at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station.  In addition to a handful of teams on Denali and Foraker, here is a location breakdown for registered backcountry climbers currently in the following Park units:

Upper Kahiltna - 24 people
Upper Ruth - 37
Mount Hunter - 8
Tokositna Glacier - 11
Little Switzerland - 5
Lower Kahiltna - 14
Dall-Yentna Preserve - 2
Mt. Huntington - 3
Moose's Tooth - 9
(TOTAL - 113)

Ranger Mark Westman compiled the following observations recently left by returning climbers:

  • A report from April 20th of an ascent of Mount Barrille's Japanese Couloir reported "very good snow all the way up". It was also reported that the couloir was skied the following day by another party.

  • The same team made an ascent of Mount Dickey's west ridge route and reported decent snow aside from one section of deep depth hoar snow. 

  • Warm air moved into the Alaska Range after these ascents and it was reported that on the night of April 25th, it rained through the night at 4,500' in the Ruth Gorge. 

  • Another team reported making an ascent of "Wake Up" on Mount Wake in the Ruth Gorge, on April 12th. The party reported much deep snow and large cornices. This team, like many others who have ascended this route, reported a very close call with the serac on Wake's north face, an active feature which threatens the base area and the start of this route. Two days after this team's ascent, several cornices above the route also broke and swept the entire route.  

  • A ski group in the Pika Glacier reported good skiing on the north aspects, but the aforementioned warm front on the 25th brought rain, which created a crust on all aspects. This was followed by a significant avalanche cycle and then was followed by 2-5" of fresh snow.

  • Two parties reported finding very good climbing conditions on the ice routes of Thunder Mountain's south face. One of these parties climbed a new route on Thunder Mountain and new route on a pinnacle on the shoulder of Mount Providence. The second party also described excellent ice conditions on the south facing routes of Thunder Mountain, with variable sugar snow more prominent on the easterly aspects. 

  • One party has returned from an attempt on the Bibler-Klewin route on Mount Hunter's north buttress. They climbed to the top of the feature known as "McNerthney's Ice Dagger", about 1/3 of the way up the route, and reported: "great conditions...the ice was in perfect condition". They indicated that the Shaft, a prominent ice chimney higher on the route, appeared "very fat".

  • One party provided a report from an ascent of Mount Huntington's Harvard Route, accomplished from 4/21-4/25. They succeeded in reaching the summit but reported "blue collar" conditions, with much heavy snow and trenching required on the "Upper Park" as well as the summit slopes and summit ridge.  

  • From April 21-23, two climbers completed a difficult new route on the west face of the Citadel in the Kichatna Spires. This was also the first route completed on this face. The route featured hard and technical mixed climbing, and sections of very thin and steep ice, and was completed with only one bivouac.

Climbers and skiers are encouraged to share recent route condition observations and/or climbing photos with ranger station staff. We'll do our best to share it here so other climbers can get a feel for conditions and/or accomplishments in the Alaska Range. 

Photo of the Day

 Ski tips
Ski traverse, Eldridge Glacier, 2016. NPS Photo 

Last updated: April 29, 2016

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PO Box 9
Denali Park , AK 99755


907 683-9532
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