Sunday Photo – Orient Express, Denali

| July 20, 2008

This is one of those cases where the actual skiing was crap, but the location was so amazing it didn’t matter.

Doug Byerly skiing the Orient Express on Denali (Mt. McKinley) around 10:30 at night. 1995
Doug Byerly skiing the Orient Express on Denali (Mt. McKinley) around 10:30 at night. 1995

Having never skied above 11,000′, Mark Holbrook and I decided it would be a good idea to try skiing Denali (20,320′) for some reason.  We made it to the 14,300′ camp (visible in the basin below right at the sun/shadow line) and within a day started up the Upper West Rib for an acclimatizing hike.  We didn’t expect to get far, but were also joined by Doug Byerly, two climbers from Colorado and two Park Rangers who were looking for some lost Spanish climbers.  Much to my surprise, we ended up making it a lot higher than I ever would have guessed.  The Rangers and Mark turned back at around 17,000′ while Doug, the two Coloradans and I continued on.

Just as we were about to crest an area called “The Football Field” we came across the lost Spanish climbers huddled in their tent.  It was a grim scene and all the wanted was “rescue, rescue” – no food, water or anything else.  Doug and I decided to ski down the way we had come up while the two Colorado climbers were going to descend the Messner Couloir.  The first group to the bottom would start the rescue.

Because we were on a mission, we didn’t have a lot of time to think about the skiing, snow quality or the fact that this face was named the Orient Express in honor of all of the Asians who had fallen to their death down it while trying to take a short-cut off the peak.  But at one point, I was able to snap a few photos.

As a trivia note, Doug is skiing with $5 poles he got from a rental shop on the extended loan program.  :)

For 15% off on non-rental Black Diamon Carbon Fiber pole from, click the photo below…


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Category: Sunday Photo

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (1)

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  1. Tobin says:

    Looks amazing. Just booked flights for Denali for next spring… been trying to decide whether to ski or just climb… thanks for making up my mind.

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