North American Classic Climbs

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Mount Hunter

West Ridge

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Mt. Hunter is the lowest of the trilogy of big peaks in the incomparable Denali National Park. In native Alaskan legend, it is the son (called Begguya) of Denali the father and Sultana (Mt. Foraker) the mother. This route is the most popular route to the true summit of Mt. Hunter at 14,370' (4425m), there being few real alternatives available to non-elite alpinists. It is significant historically as an early major climb by Fred Beckey in which he and his team demonstrated that a major Alaskan route could be done alpine style, without the fixed camps and seige mentality of the other routes established in the range at that time.

The route is almost entirely on snow, but has several rock towers along the way that contribute to its difficulty and keep it from being a routine snow slog. Also contributing to the seriousness are the infamous cornices, which can collapse at any time, taking the established track of previous parties with them. Avalanche conditions, steep steps of snow and ice, crevasses, and substantial length create a significant challenge that is appropriate only for climbers very experienced in this medium.

A more recent variation to the Beckey route climbs a steep face on the Northwest Bowl, avoiding the first rock tower but adding considerable objective hazards. This variation is falling out of favor as most parties revert to the longer and more classic full ridge route.


Snow & Ice




Denali Nat'l Park, Alaska, USA



I1, I12, G19, G43, W2


Alaska Grade 3+


Route Descriptions & Maps:

USGS topographic map

First Ascent:

F. Beckey, H. Meybohm, H. Harrer, July 1-5, 1954


Trip Reports:

Dargaud, 7/95
Hart, 5/94