/ Alaska or Himalaya
I've always wanted to hit up the Cassin on Denali and I'd actually have the time.
I've always wanted to make some sort of big trip to the Himalaya.
Not worried too much about cost, but I know Alaksa will end up being cheaper overall.
Due to work (teacher) and not being able to disappear during a regular school year I work from late August until end of June usually which stops me from big trips to far off places. I do have a full 14 months off work (paid) but might not get another year off in this decade, and who knows, I'll probably do the whole family and kids thing so my expenses might limit me in the future anyway.
So with one big crack at some massive great trip, to a range that I most likely won't be able to visit for a while (not saying ever, but it might be a good few years before going back)... which would you choose?
Peaks and climbs in both areas definetly interest me.
I envy you, you are doing exactly what I have dreamt of for most of my adult life but have no way of making it happen in my current situation.
Me personally I would go to Alaska. There are about 11 core places in the world I have on a personal list of must go before I die. Obviously the list contains many many many fascinating places but there is a desire for these 11 places some of them climbing related , some canoe related, some just general sight seeing etc
Back to the point Alaska is in my 11 places to go - so I would suggest Alaska.
where ever you end up, enjoy!!!
Alaska if you like shooting wildlife and macho talk.
Himalayas if you like chanting mantras and meditation.
That's how I'd decide. The mountaineering will be phenomenonal either way... Although seeing the likes of Nanga and Everest would top it for me.
- For one big trip lusting after the Cassin is putting all your eggs in one basket. Some years the weather is just not right, or the Japanese Couloir is a bit hard. Would you be so keen to go there if you 'only' summited via the West Butt?
- Weather? Prob better than Himalaya, but no guarantees
- You also definitely need a partner for this, a good one, and do they have as much time off as you do to hang around for the right window?
- Cost? Depends on flights, but AK is $$$ and it adds up, with food, skiplane flight, new cold gear, city travel expenses, insurance - all of which are an unavoidable minimum, plus beer etc
- Culture/Off-Mountain Experience? You're in America until about 11,000ft. I like America, some don't
- Risk? Cassin approach = significant, or difficult, Cassin no good in a storm, West Butt fine
- Climbing Satisfaction? The Cassin is a great tick, if you get it, and if you do it will be under your own steam. The West Butt, using the ropes and tracks of others?
Himalaya? (depends where you mean but I guess Nepal at that time of year?)
- greater chance of getting sick and trip ruined
- greater chance of bad weather
- Eggs in baskets? If you fail on the main thing there will probably be other things nearby to 'have a look at' or at least a trekking route, more options than Denali
- you'd want a partner for something serious and non-commercial, but if their time ran out or they bailed there might be relatively safe solo options, or hire a local. Not in Alaska.
- Culture/Off-Mountain? Interesting cultural aspects if you like that sort of thing, out of the hills you're in a 3rd world country
- Risk? Depends what you do. Altitude prob more of a factor, as is objective danger on some routes
- Climbing Satisfaction? Major summit a good tick if you get it, but possibly on the backs of others? Will a big mountain experience in all forms give you satisfaction, or do you really want a summit?
I vote for the Cassin on Denali
Himalayas can be ridiculously cheap if you're not too fussy on what you climb. My own attempt at Himalayan mountaineering ground to a halt before we really got started in terrible weather, but the year before my mate had been to the same area and climbed a bunch of peaks. It didn't cost them much beyond food an fuel, and an aeroflot ticket to Delhi and the bus up to Manali. Same for us.
Probably not relevant to your plans as if you want to climb on a bigger peak you'll need permits and maybe to be part of an organised expedition, but worth knowing.
It is always possible to spend more money on expedition:) But I reckon you can do a climbing trip far cheaper to the Himalaya than to Alaska. Transport, food and guides are far cheaper in India or Nepal than in the USA.
As has been said, would you rather be in the USA or be in Nepal / India / Tibet / Bhutan? I have never been on Denali, but from what I have heard, you are very much in the USA even when you are high on the mountain.
Of course, in both Alaska and the Himalayas it is possible to choose a mountaineering objective where you are always around other people and where even finding a camping spot might be tricky, and in both you can choose a mountaineering objective where few or no climbers have been before.
I'd be fine with "just" west butt but certainly not my main objective, probably acclimatize on it anyway.
Got lots of time to decide but wanted a few ideas to see if I'm swayed either way.
I would start the year with a few weeks ice in norway Jan feb.
March to mid april id spend in the alps. Late april mid May it would have to be the Ruth gorge in Alaska. 3 weeks. Then fly out of the gorge and chill for a few days in Talketena, then fly back in for the Cassin. 3weeks for that.
June July, id head down to Peru. Check that out for a month or two. Probably do some surfing around south america for a few weeks and knock the climbing on the head after all that coldness.
Sept/ oct back to USA for big walls in yosemite. November December id hit some early ice mixed climbing in canada. then Jan id head to patagoina for a few weeks.
After all that if i was still alive id go back to teaching.
But hey im not you Ah...
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