The Kahiltna Glacier is the longest in the Alaska Range—a 45-mile long river of ice! You’ll cross it 35 miles up it, at an elevation of 5500 feet above sea level. See any dark specs on the surface of the glacier? Those are the climbers and tents of Denali (Mt. McKinley) basecamp! Most climbing expeditions begin here. A base camp manager coordinates communications between climbers and air taxis. During the busy climbing season, there can be over 500 climbers going up and down the mountain. Climbers affectionately dub it “Kahiltna International Airport.” As you climb the Kahiltna Glacier, look for climbing teams slowly trudging their way. Climbers travel roped to each other (in case of crevasse falls), on skis and snowshoes, and don’t use oxygen. It might be in the 60’s in Talkeetna, but outside the plane, the temperature gauge reads a balmy 10 degrees above. Compare that to 95 below zero, the coldest recorded temperature on the mountain, or minus 148, the wind chill experienced by the first winter ascent party in 1967.
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- Coordinates: 62.992664, -151.216736