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To the summit

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Posted on the ranger tent, was the weather forecast we were all after: at least some stable weather. Denali, Alaska This time, I had to painfully break the trail, which was swept by the recent storm. It is hard work when you are by yourself. Denali, Alaska Being acclimatized thanks to my extended waiting at 14300ft, I skip the 16000 camp, which is occupied by a guided team comming from the bottom of the ridge. Denali, Alaska On the West Rib. Denali, Alaska The Balcony camp on the West Rib really deserves its name. Panoramic view over 180 degrees. Denali, Alaska Remains of a tent which burned years ago from stove flare-up. Denali, Alaska Camping on the Balcony camp of the West Rib. Denali, Alaska The three tracks starting from the 14300 camp are very visible: to Windy Corner, the West Buttress, and the West Rib (although these were only my tracks). The 14300 camp would soon be in the shade. Denali, Alaska That day, I enjoyed the sun until after 11pm. Denali, Alaska Midnight sunset over Mt Foraker from the West Rib. Denali, Alaska The next day, unlike the other party which is making a round-a-trip summit day and leave their tent, I pack everything, since I plan to traverse the mountain and go down by the West Buttress. Denali, Alaska The West Rib has 45 degrees inclination, with some steeper mixed parts. This means that unlike the West Buttress, it is a somewhat technical route, where you have to do some sort of climbing, and be careful not to fall. Denali, Alaska Being late on my schedule, due to the unexpected effect of altitude, I am lucky to find a ledge large enough for my Stephenson tent. Denali, Alaska Camping high on the West Rib route. Denali, Alaska The next day, I would cross the gully and climb the ridge. Denali, Alaska Across the gully, the last camp spot is visible. Denali, Alaska Last technical steps on the West Rib route. Denali, Alaska Junction with the West Buttress route (see the numerous crampon marks) on the summit plateau. Denali, Alaska Summit ridge of Mt McKinley. Denali, Alaska A view from the summit of Mt McKinley. Denali, Alaska

All text and photos © Q.-T. Luong. See conditions for use of images. All the 20 pictures of To the summit are on this page