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Summer Rock Climbing in/around Denali Natl Park
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Mar 24, 2013
Hey all,

My girlfriend and I just got positions for the summer working in Denali National Park at one of the resorts. (Yay for being a bellhop!) We're wondering if it'll be worth it to bring our climbing gear with us for the summer. I can't find many rock routes on Mountain Project, but I'd really like to get some climbing in while we're out there.

We won't have a car, but I understand the shuttles and public transport are pretty good out there.

If anyone has any advice or suggestions I'd really appreciate it. I have a basic (small, singles of bd cams from .75 to #3, BD nuts from 4-13) trad rack, and some experience leading trad, my Girlfriend can probably follow up to 11.c-ish

Brian Taylor
From Salt Lake City, UT
Joined Dec 7, 2009
0 points
Mar 24, 2013
No beta for routes but sounds like an awesome summer job!! I'm curious to know what site you went through to find a job like that? I have always wanted a fun summer job in an awesome location like the 2 of you are doing. Have fun with it!! SteveBSU
From Muncie, IN
Joined Nov 6, 2011
0 points
Mar 24, 2013
There is no good, easily accessible climbing in the front country/Healy area. There are a few short walls like Hotel Rock in the front country that people top rop occasionally, ~40', and 1 or 2 routes. Not worth hauling a rack. I'd recommend either preparing for alpine, or just leave the rack at home and boat - there will be awesome whitewater right out your front door. Ben Warner
From Boston, MA
Joined Sep 21, 2009
0 points
Mar 29, 2013
Climbed last summer at some chossy crag on Mt. Fellows. I would just leave the gear. Talk with the locals and MCA guys. Theres definitely some stuff to scramble/climb around on.

Have fun out there, sounds like a sweet gig!

Elias Jordan
From Ouray, CO
Joined Nov 23, 2011
90 points
Apr 12, 2013
I would agree that bringing your trad rack is going to be a waste of time. While Denali National Park and Preserve has absolutely stellar granite, it's at 16,000 ft. In and around the Glitter Gulch area (where the hotels and such are) there is little in the way of climbing.

Some of the areas I've heard of though...

Dragonfly Creek- Just north of Glitter Gulch, Dragonfly Creek is a popular ice climbing destination during the winter months for the Fairbanks crowd. Ive heard the 30-40ft cliff to the left of the creek has 2-4 routes on it. Fairly chossy, with 3 bolts and trees at the top for anchors.

Under the Windy Bridge- The tall bridge that spans the Nenana River north of Glitter Gulch has some climbing holds glued to the pillars. Popular with the rafting guides apparently.

Savage River climbs- Head into the park to Savage River, normally the farthest point you can travel with a personal vehicle. I've heard that there are some climbs on some of the small chossy crags in the valley to the North where the established trail goes. I've believe there is also some decent bouldering there too.

Tatlanika boulders- about 30 minutes north of Healy. Boulders on a hillside. If you're into that sort of thing.

There is a small (25ft?), steep and often wet limestone crag with some bolted sport climbs south of the park, at about mile 1 or 2 of the Denali Highway from Cantwell. Right next to the road.

Of course, you could head further south to Hatcher Pass or the Glenn Highway for some bigger and better climbing. If you think you can get some time to hit Hatcher Pass, then bring the rack. Heading North, if you ever make it up to the glorious town of Fairbanks, there are a few more developed areas there as well, but they will likely disappoint as you're coming from Utah.

If you make it up to Fairbanks, let me know. If I'm not in the field, I can point you in the right direction for some of the local stuff.

But seriously, you should be tearing up the whitewater everyday.
James Smith
From Fairbanks, AK
Joined Nov 30, 2011
15 points
Apr 20, 2013
I will also be working this summer up in Denali as a trail worker and I am on the lookout for climbing as well as climbing partners. I will be coming with most of my gear plus a crash pad though the actual climbing options look sparse. We shall see. Keep in touch and maybe we can meet up. Alex Garcia
From South Lake Tahoe, CA
Joined Apr 20, 2013
0 points
Apr 20, 2013
Hey Brian,
I worked for Princess at Denali last year, and I got to do next to NO climbing. As somebody mentioned, there are a few things around - Hotel Rock, which I never made it to, and the glued on holds under Windy Bridge, which I saw but never climbed - but it looks like you could easily set a toprope. The aren't bolts up that climb though, so you can't lead it.

I did get to climb the one shitty, chossy climb at Dragonfly Creek - there are bolted anchors at the top of this now, which you can set a toprope on. The route goes climbers left of the waterfall, and it's basically a one move wonder - the lower portion is just scrambling, there's a tricky balancy move (I'd guess 5.10ish the way I did it), then more easy stuff up to the top.

Anyway, I was super bummed on the general choss and lack of climbing in the Denali area, and was mega weak by the time the season was over. I took my harness, shoes, chalk bag, and a couple of slings and lockers with me to AK, and just borrowed a rope from somebody that worked in the canyon. You can usually find a raft guide or someone who has one - I'm sure you can spot the climbers. I was kind of surprised at the lack of outdoorsy people working summer jobs up there. It seems like I ran into a ton of people who had never even hiked before. Anyway, since youre flying up, you probably don't wanna bother cramming a bunch of climbing gear into suitcases that have to fit five months worth of other stuff.

Sorry if any of this sounds discouraging! There's a ton of other stuff to do up there, so take advantage of your discounts - go rafting, DRIVE THE ARGOS! That was super fun. Go on some hiking excursions and some overnights in the park! I'm not heading back this summer, but I'm super glad I had the experience, even if my arms well like jello and I could barely toprope 5.9 when I got back, jaja.

Let me know if have any more questions or want any beta about Healy! I feel like I just left there. And have fun! Bring a tent/sleeping bag/pad/jetboil instead of a rope and rack, and pack your harness and shoes just in case (:
From Louisville, KY
Joined Jan 22, 2012
5 points

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