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Cassin Ridge, Denali - harder and more rewarding than expected
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Max Neale
Cassin Ridge, Denali - harder and more rewarding than expected on 08/15/2014 10:56:59 MDT Print View

This is not a backpacking trip report, but it's relevant to those of us that enjoy backpacking in the sense that's it's a multi-day trip and that saving weight mattered a lot.

My partner dropped a tent pole in a crevasse, climbed a few thousand feet with mostly one arm, and woke himself up from farting. I was grappling with "why climb?" and "what's the point of outdoor activities?" the entire time. When we got down we learned that we were the only Americans to do a technical route on the mountain this year.

The trip report is here:


Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Cassin Ridge, Denali - harder and more rewarding than expected on 08/15/2014 18:12:15 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/22/2015 02:09:40 MDT.

Peter Atkinson
(sewing_machine) - MLife

Locale: Yorkshire, England
Cassin Ridge, Denali on 08/18/2014 13:04:05 MDT Print View

Belting story and great photos - thanks for taking the time to write/present it to us. Ace stuff.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Cassin Ridge, Denali on 08/18/2014 13:55:06 MDT Print View


I was in the general area of your climb; there was up to 3' of new snow per day during that period. Your narrative and photos are first class!

To put what you accomplished in a risk perspective, here are three photos I took near the climbers memorial memorial plaque in the Talkeetna cemetery. I took them after getting off the mountain. The plaque lists the names and ages of the climbers who died each year attempting the climb.



I don't recall any years without deaths


Edited by richard295 on 08/19/2014 16:51:22 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
denali. on 08/18/2014 14:09:56 MDT Print View

I'm giving this a HOLY CRAP! and a big congrats on getting up and down safe and sound.

Now that's some adventure. Your picture (above) says it all!

Edited by DaveT on 08/18/2014 14:10:26 MDT.

Jack M

Locale: Gates of the Arctic
Denali on 08/18/2014 15:24:39 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing. Great trip report and photos.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Denali on 08/19/2014 06:16:39 MDT Print View

Amazing trip report!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Cassin Ridge, Denali - harder and more rewarding than expected on 08/19/2014 08:04:21 MDT Print View

Nice one Max!

We need to see a gear list.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Cassin Ridge, Denali - harder and more rewarding than expected on 08/19/2014 09:34:31 MDT Print View

Wow!!!!! Great writing - I was hooked from the start of the story. Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us!

The pictures were really beautiful; what kind of camera did you use?

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Cassin Ridge, Denali - harder and more rewarding than expected on 08/19/2014 12:25:16 MDT Print View

Small world.. I've known Zeb since he was about 15 through climbing and has always been a beast on the wall. Nice trip!

Max Neale
gear list on 08/25/2014 13:48:15 MDT Print View

Thanks all.

We didn't put together a meticulous Andrew Skurka style gear list so please accept our mostly complete gear notes, which I pasted below. The first line is usually the category header.

A few things we'd change:

don't bring snow pickets on route or possibly at all- we only used them as tent stakes and to rap into the crevasse
bring a big pyramid tarp (HMG UltaMid 4) for basecamp
replace the 6L drom with a 10L drom
bring less food, especially less cheese
Zeb would have brought all-purpose crampons (like BD Sabretooths) instead of his mono points.
I would bring a full length closed cell pad instead of a half length
perhaps bring down booties--still not sure if they're worth buying
start with brand new gloves--I'd take the Arcteryx Alpha FL again
bring an extra fuel pump for the XGK
bring a solid wooden spatula instead of a slotted wooden spatula
Replace the Rab Xenons with the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody
don't bring the PLB--we didn't carry it on route
don't bring gaiters--never used
ignore the Smiley's suggestion to remove the leg loops on your harness. we found these to be very useful for hanging belays.

group climbing
cams (.5, .75, 1)
5 ice screws
2 snow pickets
slings and biners
45m rope
v thread tool

group camp
tent for the glacier- Hilleberg Staika
tent for on route- MH Direkt 2
solar panel
first aid kit
repair kit
ul zpacks tent + stakes for backpacking afterwards
zpacks sleeping pad attachments
packrafting gear for afterwards
ul headlamp
6L drom
extra glacier glasses

personal climbing
locking biner
atc guide / reverso
ice tools
umbilical chords
nose sun shield

personal camp
reading / writing materials
toothbrush and paste
toilet paper
nalgene cozy
neo air
foam pad
basecamp sleeping bag
lightweight sleeping bag for backpacking afterwards
ul headlamp
lip balm

group navigation / communication related things
iphone w/ GPS tracks loaded
paper map

group cooking
1.7L reactor
reactor hang kit
msr xgk
stove board
pot for xgk
fry pan for xgk
white gas
2 white gas bottles
pot gripper

personal cooking
coffee paraphenalia

packs and duffels
Patagonia duffel
HMG duffel
cilo gear 45L NWD
HMG Ice Pack 3500 cu in
ZPacks Zero
HMG stuff pack

glacier travel
snow shoes
trekking / ski poles
bamboo wands

zeb clothing
arcteryx alpha fl hardshell
ME K7 down parka
Rab Xenon
R2 fleece
rab fleece
cap 1 shirt
knifeblade bibs
down pants
arcteryx fleece bottoms
warm waterproof gloves
lightweight gloves
warm mittens
glacier glasses

max clothing
arcteryx alpha fl hardshell
knifeblade pants
down parka
Rab Xenon
R3 fleece
cap 4 hoody
arc bottoms
2 pair underwear
patagonia merino silkweight longsleeve
arc gloves
alti mitts
DAS pants
2 pair socks
glacier glasses
sun hat

Max Neale
camera on 08/25/2014 13:51:27 MDT Print View

d k: cameras: one Nikon RX100 II for basecamp and our smartphones (iPhone 4s and unknown Android) for on route.

Heath Poulter
(hpoulter) - F
Re on 09/27/2014 09:11:23 MDT Print View

Amazing trip report! How did you prepare for this ascent? I have been getting in to mountaineering and want to do this route some day.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Read it! on 09/27/2014 20:31:28 MDT Print View

Fantastic writing about an epic and inspired trip! Way to go Max!!

Read it, BPL!

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: Read it! on 09/27/2014 20:36:25 MDT Print View

You must be a sponsored athlete. Pat., HMG?

Regardless, great effort and post writing. Your work should be sponsored!

Edited by kbuggie on 09/27/2014 20:41:45 MDT.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Glad you had a safe climb on 09/28/2014 09:05:44 MDT Print View

Extremely dangerous undertaking compared the lives we normally lead.

Congratulations on a grand adventure!