ID Route Name Category Rating Time Description
01 West Buttress Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 2 More than two weeks This is the normal route. It follows the winding Kahiltna Glacier to a large basin, where 2,000 feet of climbing yields the West Buttress. The ascent to the summit culminates in a steep traverse to Denali Pass, from which the final ascent is made. This route has the reputation of being an easy climb, but its steep grade, severe weather, and numerous crevasses demand caution and respect.
02 Muldrow Glacier Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 2 More than two weeks This North Face route begins at McGonagall Pass, nineteen miles from the Wonder Lake trailhead. It ascends via Muldrow Glacier and the higher Harper Glacier to Denali Pass, from which the summit is a steep climb on a poorly-defined ridge.
03 Northwest Buttress Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 4 More than two weeks The Northwest Buttress follows a knife-sharp heavily corniced ridge to the North Peak, the lesser of McKinley's two summits. It is a technical climb that provides a tremendous variety of challenges, and spectacular views of the 14,000-foot Wickersham Wall and the vast Alaskan tundra.
04 Wickersham Wall Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grades 3 and 4+ More than two weeks This great north-facing wall rises 14,000 vertical feet, from the 5,400-foot Peters Glacier to the 19,470-foot North Peak. The Canadian Route (Grade 3) follows a spur ridge on the west side of the wall. The more difficult and dangerous Harvard Route follows a slightly protected wrinkle in a direct line to the North Summit. The Wickersham Wall holds several hanging glaciers, and avalanche and rockfall are its greatest dangers.
05 West Rim Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 4 More than two weeks The West Rim is a 4,000 foot ridge that joins the West Buttress route at 13,600 feet. During its 4,000 feet, however, the West Rim provides awesome challenges, including the exposure of a knife edge ridge, and ice climbing at 70-degrees.
06 West Rib Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 4 More than two weeks The West Rib route provides a direct route to the summit. Following the approach, the short, steep ascent requires only 3 miles of climbing, compared to 17 miles for the normal route on the West Buttress. The route is steep (including short sections of up to 60-degree ice), but otherwise poses few serious technical difficulties.
07 Pioneer Ridge Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 4 - 5 More than two weeks Pioneer Ridge is a long, serrated knife-edge that stretches from McKinley's North Face. It is a direct route to the summit, but hanging glaciers, 70-degree snow and ice, and Class 5 rock pinnacles make this a very challenging route. The route was attempted as early as 1912, but was not successfully completed until 1961.
08 South Buttress Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grades 3 to 6 More than two weeks McKinley's South Buttress is the prominent feature of its south side, as it stretches for miles, rising five times to heights above fifteen thousand feet. The buttress is seldom used as a route to McKinley's summit, but its steep lofty crest is itself the goal of a variety of technical climbing routes.
09 Cassin Ridge Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 5 More than two weeks This is a direct, 9,000-foot granite ridge up the South Face to McKinley's summit. The route includes 40- to 65-degree snow and ice climbing, and up to 5.8 rock on several pitches below 16,400 feet.
10 Ridge of No Return Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 6 More than two weeks Appropriately named, this ridge is the most difficult on Denali. It begins on the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier, and rises sharply to the South Buttress at 15,000 feet. Its first 3,000 feet are sustained 50- to 70-degrees snow and ice, with vertical and overhanging sections, on a double-corniced ridge. The final 4,000 feet are a steep mixed face.
11 Southwest Face Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 6 More than two weeks Any route on the Southwest Face is a direct line to McKinley's summit, and is a very difficult mixed climb (5.9, A3) with short vertical sections of ice.
12 Czech Direct Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 6 More than two weeks This is the most direct ascent of McKinley, one mile straight up the south face. The route is swept by avalanches after snowstorms, so an ascent must be fast. The route includes 5,000 feet of 60- to 100-degree snow and ice climbing, with 5.9 rock.
13 American Direct Major Mountain Expedition Alaska Grade 6 More than two weeks This is a steep, dangerous climb to the South Spur, from which McKinley's summit is attained. Includes sustained snow and ice climbing of 50- to 65-degrees from 12,000 to 16,000 feet, followed by a mixed rock buttress (5.7, A2) to the summit ridge.