Gear for Adventure: Cassin Ridge, Denali
Have dreams of climbing Denali but don’t know what kind of kit you need? Look no further.
My first trip to the Alaska Range was an incredible one. I learned a lot, and feel that I planned physically, mentally and logistically well for this expedition. Much of the latter preparation was due to the advice, insight and previous gear beta from those that had been there before. It’s for that reason, I’d like to give back and share the gear we brought on our ascent of the Cassin Ridge.
We planned to climb as a party of two, but last-minute changes had us adapt for a party of three. I’ve outlined gear for the party of three, but noted some modifications for a party of two, as well as what I might do differently next time.
Full disclosure: Our ascent took us 40+ hours from ‘schrund to summit (and a little under 60 hours from Camp 14 to Camp 14). We had planned for an absolute max of three days of food and five days of fuel (water). Use this list at your own risk and adapt as needed for your specific style of ascent.
|Mountaineering Boots||La Sportiva G2 SM|
|Socks (2)||1 pair Smartwool Ski Merino & 1 pair Darn Tough|
|Baselayer Shirt||Merrell Paradox T (wool/poly)|
|T-shirt Baselayer||Merrell Merino|
|Long sleeve Baselayer||Patagonia Sunshade Hoody|
|Upper Insulation Layer||Merrel Unbound Jacket|
|Soft Shell/Wind Jacket||Patagonia Levitation Jacket|
|Hardshell/Goretex Jacket||Arc’teryx Alpha SV|
|Expedition Down Parka [800 Fill]||Patagonia Fitz Roy|
|Lower Baselayer (thermal long Underwear)||Icebreaker Merino|
|Softshell Pants||Patagonia Simul Alpine|
|Hardshell Bibs||Arc’teryx Theta SV Bib|
|Insulated Pants||BD Stance Insulated Pant|
|Head + Neck + Face|
|Light Beanie (Under Helmet)||Merrell Skull Cap|
|Balaclava (thick/Windstopper)||Smartwool Neckwarmer|
|Glacier glasses||Julbo Explorer|
|Glasses case||Julbo Plastic Case|
|Goggles||Dragon Eyewear (old pair)|
|Lip balm||Dermatone Tin|
|Liner Gloves||Arc’teryx Ignis Liner|
|Climbing Gloves||BD Terminator Glove|
|Insulated Ski/Climbing Gloves||BD Enforcer Glove|
|Insulated Mittens||OR Alti-Mitt|
|Sleeping Bag #1||Marmot Phase 20|
|Sleeping Bag #2||Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL|
|Sleeping bag compression bag|
|Full-length sleep pad #1 (air)||Exped Downmat 9|
|Full-length sleep pad #2 (air)||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm|
|2-Man Alpine Tent||Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2|
|Personal Climbing Gear|
|Technical ice tools||Grivel North Machines|
|Spare Ice tool pick||Grivel|
|Leash/Tether||CAMP Cassin X-Gyro Leash|
|Ice Clippers||(2) BD & DMM Vault|
|Belay Device + Locking Carabiner||BD ATC Guide + Camp HMS Nitro|
|Ascender||Petzl Micro Traxion|
|Hollowblock/Prusik||Sterling Hollow block|
|Locking carabiners (3)||CAMP Photon Lock|
|Cordelette||Sterling Tech Cord|
|(120cm) 5mm Perlon Cord|
|120cm Sling||Mammut Contact Sling|
|Team Technical Gear|
|Rope||70m Sterling Fusion Photon (7.8mm)|
|Snow pickets||(3) 2 x MSR 24″ + 1 x Yates 22″|
|Ice screws||(5) Petzl LaserScrews: 3 x 13cm, 1 x 16cm 1 x 19cm|
|Alpine Draws||(6) CAMP MACH Express Draws|
|Ultralight Cams||(4) Black Diamond Ultralight Cams [# 1, .75, .5, .4]|
|Stoppers||Light set of assorted nuts|
|Laminated Topo & Route Description||“Alaska Climbing,” by J. Puryear|
|Stove||Jetboil 1.8L w/ Lid|
|Lighters||(3) Bic lighters|
|“Alpine Bomb”||Homemade copper heat-exchanger|
|Stove Repair Kit||MSR Expedition Kit|
|Fuel||(5) MSR Fuel Canisters (3.9oz/110g)|
|Dehyrated Meals||Backpacker’s Pantry (3 days worth)|
|Breakfast||Quaker Instant Packets & Starbucks Via Coffee (3 Days)|
|Snacks||Variety of energy fuel|
|Nalgene/water bottles||(2) Nalgenes|
|Nalgene/Water bottles insulator (2 Per Person)||(2) OR Water Bottle Parka|
|Mug/Cup||Snowpeak Titanium 450 mug|
|Spoon/Spork||Sea to Summit Titanium Spork|
|3′ Duct Tape|
|3′ Bailing Wire|
|3′ 2mm Cord|
|Small Nail Clippers|
|1.5″ Leuko Tape|
|Large Safety Pins||4|
|3′ of 3″ Coban||3 feet|
|4″x4″ Guaze Pads||2|
|Ibuprofen (200mg)||20 tablets|
|Prednisone (20mg)||6 tablets|
|Pepto Bismol||6 tablets|
|Cough Drops||10 x 1 oz lozenges|
|Hand/Foot Warmers||3 sets|
|Electronics & Navigation|
|Sattellite Communication||Garmin InReach SE+|
|GPS||Garmin InReach SE+ & GAIA|
|Video Camera||GoPro Hero 5|
|Altimeter||Suunto Ambit 3 Peak|
|Alpine Climbing Pack||Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Ice Pack (2400 cu./39L)|
|Toilet Paper||1/4 Roll of Mountain Money|
MODIFICATIONS FOR PARTY OF 2
— 40m Sterling Fusion Photon (7.8mm) instead of 70m
— 0-2 Snow pickets instead of 3
— Just the spoonbill, and leave the 2nd sleeping bag behind
FOR A FUTURE ASCENT
— I would debate bringing the pickets. They gave us piece of mind, but were very time consuming and difficult to place (think t-slot, deadman anchors) every single time based on the snow pack during our ascent.
— MSR Reactor Stove (1.8L) instead of the JetBoil. The MSR Reactor has won me over as the more reliable stove for alpine ascents.
— I used the DeLorme InReach to msg, but used almost exclusively GAIA on my iPhone 7+ for GPS/Compass. The iPhone 7+ has a much larger screen that is easier to see.
As I mentioned above, I am incredibly grateful for the info I received from folks who had been there—Mark Smiley, Max Neale, Colin Haley, Jonathan Griffin and Colin Simon all spent time relaying their personal experiences in this area which helped me greatly in planning for a route like the Cassin Ridge.
With that in mind, I hope you find my gear info helpful and if you are planning on a trip to the southwest face of Denali don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly—I’ll do my best to help you wherever I can!
Jason Antin, a native of New England who now calls Colorado home, focuses all of his time striving to achieve the ultimate work-life balance. He also spends much of his time working as a Climbing Guide for Denver Mountain Guiding, as a strength and conditioning coach at The Alpine Training Center in Boulder, CO where he prepares his athletes for the physical and mental rigors of the mountains. Off the clock, Jason shares his home in Golden, CO with his wife Jenny and 2-year old daughter Avery. He enjoys moving quickly in the mountains over all mediums that mother nature shares with us whether that be trails, rock, ice or snow.
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