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Gear for Adventure: Cassin Ridge, Denali

Have dreams of climbing Denali but don't know what kind of kit you need? Look no further.

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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 two, but last-minute changes had us adapt for a party of three. I’ve outlined gear for the party of three, but noted some modifications for a party of two, 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 three days of food and five days of fuel (water).  Use this list at your own risk and adapt as needed for your specific style of ascent.

High on the Cassin Ridge. Photo: Jason Antin.
Gear Item Details
Mountaineering Boots La Sportiva G2 SM
Socks (2) 1 pair Smartwool Ski Merino & 1 pair Darn Tough
Baselayer Shirt Merrell Paradox T (wool/poly)
T-shirt Baselayer Merrell Merino
Long sleeve Baselayer Patagonia Sunshade Hoody
Upper Insulation Layer Merrel Unbound Jacket
Soft Shell/Wind Jacket Patagonia Levitation Jacket
Hardshell/Goretex Jacket Arc’teryx Alpha SV
Expedition Down Parka [800 Fill] Patagonia Fitz Roy
Underwear Saxx Merino
Lower Baselayer (thermal long Underwear) Icebreaker Merino
Softshell Pants Patagonia Simul Alpine
Hardshell Bibs Arc’teryx Theta SV Bib
Insulated Pants BD Stance Insulated Pant
Head + Neck + Face
Helmet BD Vector
Light Beanie (Under Helmet) Merrell Skull Cap
Buff Merrell Buff
Balaclava (thick/Windstopper) Smartwool Neckwarmer
Glacier glasses Julbo Explorer
Glasses case Julbo Plastic Case
Goggles Dragon Eyewear (old pair)
Lip balm Dermatone Tin
Sunscreen Dermatone Tin
Liner Gloves Arc’teryx Ignis Liner
Climbing Gloves BD Terminator Glove
Insulated Ski/Climbing Gloves BD Enforcer Glove
Insulated Mittens OR Alti-Mitt
Shelter System
Sleeping Bag #1 Marmot Phase 20
Sleeping Bag #2 Feathered Friends Spoonbill UL
Sleeping bag compression bag
Full-length sleep pad #1 (air) Exped Downmat 9
Full-length sleep pad #2 (air) Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
2-Man Alpine Tent Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2
Personal Climbing Gear
Crampons BD Snaggletooths
Technical ice tools Grivel North Machines
Spare Ice tool pick Grivel
Leash/Tether CAMP Cassin X-Gyro Leash
Harness BD Xeno
Ice Clippers (2) BD & DMM Vault
Belay Device + Locking Carabiner BD ATC Guide + Camp HMS Nitro
Ascender Petzl Micro Traxion
Hollowblock/Prusik Sterling Hollow block
Locking carabiners (3) CAMP Photon Lock
Cordelette Sterling Tech Cord
(120cm) 5mm Perlon Cord
Pulley DMM Revolver
120cm Sling Mammut Contact Sling
Team Technical Gear
Rope 70m Sterling Fusion Photon (7.8mm)
Snow pickets (3) 2 x MSR 24″ + 1 x Yates 22″
Ice screws (5) Petzl LaserScrews: 3 x 13cm, 1 x 16cm 1 x 19cm
Alpine Draws (6) CAMP MACH Express Draws
Ultralight Cams (4) Black Diamond Ultralight Cams [# 1, .75, .5, .4]
Stoppers Light set of assorted nuts
V-thread tool
Laminated Topo & Route Description “Alaska Climbing,” by J. Puryear
Cooking Gear
Stove Jetboil 1.8L w/ Lid
Lighters (3) Bic lighters
“Alpine Bomb” Homemade copper heat-exchanger
Stove Repair Kit MSR Expedition Kit
Fuel (5) MSR Fuel Canisters (3.9oz/110g)
Dehyrated Meals Backpacker’s Pantry (3 days worth)
Breakfast Quaker Instant Packets & Starbucks Via Coffee (3 Days)
Snacks Variety of energy fuel
Personal Cookware
Nalgene/water bottles (2) Nalgenes
Nalgene/Water bottles insulator (2 Per Person) (2) OR Water Bottle Parka
Mug/Cup Snowpeak Titanium 450 mug
Spoon/Spork Sea to Summit Titanium Spork
Repair Kit
Athletic Tape
3′ Duct Tape
3′ Bailing Wire
3′ 2mm Cord
Med Kit
Alcohol Swabs
Small Nail Clippers
1.5″ Leuko Tape
Large Safety Pins 4
Pulse Oximter
Triangular Bandage
3′ of 3″ Coban 3 feet
4″x4″ Guaze Pads 2
Surgical ABD
Perscription Meds 3
Ibuprofen (200mg) 20 tablets
Acetaminophen 20 tablets
Prednisone (20mg) 6 tablets
Diamox (125mg)
Antibiotics (respiratory)
Antibiotics (GI)
Pepto Bismol 6 tablets
Cough Drops 10 x 1 oz lozenges
Hand/Foot Warmers 3 sets
Electronics & Navigation
Mobile/iPhone iphone 6+
Sattellite Communication Garmin InReach SE+
GPS Garmin InReach SE+ & GAIA
Video Camera GoPro Hero 5
Altimeter Suunto Ambit 3 Peak
Other Gear
Alpine Climbing Pack Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Ice Pack (2400 cu./39L)
Toilet Paper 1/4 Roll of Mountain Money


— 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


— 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.

(Left to right) Ryan Edwards, Nate Kenney, and I on the summit of Denali for the second time on June 6, 2017, after climbing the Cassin Ridge. Photo: Jason Antin.

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 southwest face of Denali don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly—I’ll do my best to help you wherever I can!

Jason Antin, a native of New England who now calls Colorado home, focuses all of his time striving to achieve the ultimate work-life balance. He also spends much of his time working as a Climbing Guide for Denver Mountain Guiding, as a strength and conditioning coach at The Alpine Training Center in Boulder, CO where he prepares his athletes for the physical and mental rigors of the mountains. Off the clock, Jason shares his home in Golden, CO with his wife Jenny and 2-year old daughter Avery. He enjoys moving quickly in the mountains over all mediums that mother nature shares with us whether that be trails, rock, ice or snow.

Read more about Jason’s adventures at his website!

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