Gear for the Cassin Ridge, Denali

My first trip to the Alaska Range was an incredible one. I learned a lot, and feel that I planned physically, mentally and logistically well for this expedition.  Much of the latter preparation was due to the advice, insight and previous gear beta from those that had been there before. It’s for that reason, I’d like to give back and share the gear we brought on our ascent of the Cassin Ridge.

We planned to climb as a party of 2, but last-minute changes had us adapt for a party of 3.  I’ve outlined gear for the party of 3, but noted some modifications for a party of 2, as well as what I might do differently next time.


Full disclosure, our ascent took us 40+ hours from schrund to summit (and a little under 60 hours from Camp 14 to Camp 14) We had planned for an absolute max of 3 days of food and 5 days of fuel(water).  Use this list at your own risk and adapt as needed for your specific style of ascent.

  Me, near our only bivy spot (16,500’) just below the 2nd Rock band w/ the Valley of Death below. This HMG pack was perfect for the Cassin Ridge.

Me, near our only bivy spot (16,500’) just below the 2nd Rock band w/ the Valley of Death below. This HMG pack was perfect for the Cassin Ridge.

Gear for the Cassin Ridge:

Gear ItemDetails
Footwear
Mountaineering BootsLa Sportiva G2 SM
Socks (2)1 pair Smartwool ski Merino & 1 Pair Darn tough
Outerwear
Baselayer ShirtMerrell Paradox T (wool/poly)
T-shirt BaselayerMerrell Merino
Long sleeve BaselayerPatagonia Sunshade Hoody
Upper Insulation LayerMerrel Unbound Jacket
Soft Shell/Wind JacketPatagonia Levitation Jacket
Hardshell/Goretex JacketArc'teryx Alpha SV
Expedition Down Parka [800 Fill]Patagonia Fitzroy
UnderwearSaxx Merino
Lower Baselayer (thermal long Underwear)Icebreaker Merino
Softshell PantsPatagonia Simulalpine
Hardshell BibsArc'teryx Theta SV Bib
Insulated PantsBD Stance Insulated Pant
Head + Neck + Face
HelmetBD Vector
Light Beanie (Under Helmet)Merrell Skull Cap
BuffMerrell Buff
Balaclava (thick/Windstopper)Smartwool Buff
glacier glassesJulbo Explorer
glasses caseJulbo Plastic Case
gogglesDragon Eyewear (old pair)
lip balmDermatone Tin
sunscreenDermatone Tin
Hands
Liner GlovesArc'teryx Ignis Liner
Climbing GlovesBD Terminator Glove
Insulated Ski/Climbing GlovesBD Enforcer Glove
Insulated MittensMH Alti-Mitt
Shelter System
Sleeping Bag #1Marmot Phase 20
Sleeping Bag #2Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL
sleeping bag compresson bag 
full lentgh sleep pad #1 (air)Exped Downmat 9
full lentgh sleep pad #2 (air)Therma Rest X-Therm
2-Man Alpine TentMountain Hardware Direkt 2
Personal Climbing Gear
cramponsBD Snaggletooths
technical ice toolsGrivel North Machines
Spare Ice tool pickGrivel
Wrench 
Leash/TetherCAMP Cassin X-Gyro Lash
HarnessBD Xeno
Ice Clippers (2) BD & DMM Vault
Belay Device + Locking CarabinerBD ATC Guide + Camp HMS Nitro
AscenderPetzl Microtraxion
Hollowblock/PrussicSterling Hollow block
locking carabiners (3)CAMP Photon Lock
CordeletteSterling Tech Cord
(120cm) 5mm Perlon Cord 
pulleyDMM Revolver
120cm SlingMammut Contact Sling
Team Technical Gear
Rope70M Sterling Fusion Photon (7.8mm)
snow pickets (3) 2x MSR 24" + 1x Yates 22"
Ice screws (5) Petzl LaserScrews: 3x 13cm, 1x 16cm 1x 19cm
Alpine Draws (6) CAMP MACH Express Draws
Ultralight Cams(4) Black Diamond UL Cams [# 1, .75, .5, .4]
StoppersLight set of nuts
V-thread tool 
Laminated Topo & Route Description"Alaska Climbing" J. Puryear
Cooking Gear
StoveJetboil 1.8L w/ Lid
Lighters(3) Bic's
"Alpine Bomb"(homemade copper heat exchanger)
Stove Repair KitMSR Expedition Kit
Fuel5x MSR Fuel Canisters (3.9oz/110g)
Food/Nutrition
Dehyrated MealsBackpacker's Pantry (3 days worth)
BreakfastQuaker Instant Packets & Starbucks Via Coffee (3 Days)
SnacksVariety of energy fuel (see food post)
Personal Cookwear
Nalgene/water bottles (2) Nalgenes
Nalgene/Water bottles insulator (2 Per Person)(2) OR Insulator
Mug/CupSnowpeak Titaium 450 mug
Spoon/SporkSea-to-summit Titanium Spork
Repair Kit
Athletic Tape 
Multitool 
3' Duct Tape 
3' Bailing Wire 
3' 2mm Cord 
Med Kit
Alcohol Swabs 
Moleskin 
Small Nail Clippers 
1.5" Leuko Tape 
Large Safety Pins4
Pulse Oximter 
Triangular Bandage 
3' of 3" Coban3 feet
Band-Aids 
4"x4" Guaze Pads2
Surgical ABD 
Perscription Meds3
ibuprofen (200mg)20 Tablets
acetaminophen20 tablets
Albuterol 
Prednisone (20mg)6 tablets
Diamox (125mg) 
antibiotics(respiratory) 
antibiotics(GI) 
Pepto Bismol6 Tablets
Cough Drops10x 1oz Losenges
Hand/Foot Warmers3 Sets
Electronics & Navigation
Mobile/iPhoneiphone 6+
Sattellite CommunicationGarmin InReach SE+
GPSGarmin InReach SE+ & GAIA
Video CameragoPro Hero 5
AltimeterSuunto Ambit 3 Peak
Other Gear
Alpine Climbing PackHyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Ice Pack (2400 cu./39L)
Toilet Paper1/4 Roll of Mountain Money
  Time to eat once the storm broke at 16,500. Backpacker’s Pantry was fuel for the body and mind.

Time to eat once the storm broke at 16,500. Backpacker’s Pantry was fuel for the body and mind.

Modifications for Party of 2:

  • 40M Sterling Fusion Photon (7.8mm) instead of 70M

  • 0-2 Snow pickets instead of 3

  • Just the spoonbill, and leave the 2nd sleeping bag behind.

 

For a future ascent:

  • I would debate bringing the pickets.  They gave us piece of mind, but were very time consuming and difficult to place (think t-slot, deadman anchors) every single time based on the snow pack during our ascent.

  • MSR Reactor Stove (1.8L) instead of the JetBoil. The MSR Reactor has won me over as the more reliable stove for alpine ascents.

  • I used the DeLorme InReach to msg, but used almost exclusively GAIA on my iPhone 7+ for GPS/Compass.  The iPhone 7+ has a much larger screen that is easier to see.

  Ryan Edwards, Nate Kenney and I on the Summit of Denali after climbing the Cassin Ridge.

Ryan Edwards, Nate Kenney and I on the Summit of Denali after climbing the Cassin Ridge.

As I mentioned above, I am incredibly grateful for the info I received from folks who had been there – Mark Smiley, Max Neale, Colin Haley, Jonathan Griffin and Colin Simon all spent time relaying their personal experiences in this area which helped me greatly in planning for a route like the Cassin Ridge.

With that in mind, I hope you find my gear info helpful and If you are planning on a trip to the SW face of Denali don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly, I’ll do my best to help you wherever I can.