Katie Bono’s record breaking climb of Denali

Katie Bono at Kahilna Glacier base camp at 7,200 ft. elevation. Photo credit: Savannah Cummnins @sav.cummins


Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, attracts numerous individuals during the summer season between May and July. Tourists enjoy flight tours over the mountain range with the possibility of a short landing on it; backcountry climbing and mountaineering are what attracts most outdoor enthusiasts to Denali.

Every year, the Walter Harper Talkeetna ranger station provides summaries of the mountaineering activities and conditions in Denali National Park and Preserve. Mike Connolly, one of the rangers at the Walter Harper station, describes this climbing season as quite challenging due to the weather conditions.

“In this 2017 climbing season, it seems that summit weather windows were fewer and farther between than average years. The daily Denali recreational forecast repeatedly stated low pressure, cold temperatures and snow showers. The summit percentage rate is also quite telling of the weather. It is lower than the annual average rate of 50 percent,” Connolly said.

In mid-July, the mountain climbing season was announced completed and registrations closed for the 2017 season due to the weather conditions. The summit rate stayed low at 42 percent, as only 495 of the 1189 climbers reached the top.

One of them was Katie Bono, 29, who did so with record breaking speed. On June 13 and 14, Bono became the first woman to make an official speed ascent of Denali via the classic West Buttress Route. Bono, originally from Minnesota and now living in Colorado, has a background in backcountry and cross country ski racing and is also a well-experienced mountaineer. She has guided trips up Denali and Rainier before attempting her climb this summer.

Bono managed the round-trip ascent from base camp at 7,200 feet to Denali’s 20,310-foot summit in astonishing 21 hours, 6 minutes. Only two men have been reported to have accomplished that…

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