Denali Climb

Three women summit highest mountain in North America

At 20,320 feet, Denali boasts arctic winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, temperatures of −40 degrees, miles of heavily glaciated terrain with gaping crevasses, and renowned storms that pin teams in tents for up to a week at a time.

  • Our self-guided team of three women climbed the West Buttress route, moving through four camps.
  • We summited on  June 4, 1998, and arrived back at base camp on day 24 of our journey.
  • Due to poor weather conditions during that climbing season, only 36% of teams summitted.

Our team

Before heading to Denali, Susan, Alyson, and I had honed our climbing on Mount Rainier, a tough 14,411-foot glacier-covered mountain outside Seattle. A two-hour drive from where we lived, this mountain offered similar winter conditions of whipping snow and blasting winds as Denali.

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Beyond the summit

On the summit ridge of Denali, my teammates and I passed a team of three men who were on their way down after summiting. Our teams had been climbing for almost three weeks at the same pace, and had become friends. A year later, one of their team members named Marty became my husband and adventure partner for life.

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The extreme conditions experienced on Denali ultimately helped prepare my husband Marty and me for a quest that took place 15 years later.

Read all about our journey to the South Pole in my book, The Expedition.

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