Kahiltna Peaks West (Alaska): new route by Meraldi and Giovannini
On 24/05/2011 Fabio Meraldi and Diego Giovannini established a new route up the East Spur of Kahiltna Peaks West (3914m, McKinley-Denali mountain chain, Alaska).
Last May Fabio Meraldi, the famous Italian mountain guide and skyrunning and ski mountaineering champion teamed up with Diego Giovannini, a talented mountaineer, photographer and camerman with various Himalayan expeditions to his name, to climb the Cassin Ridge on Mc Kinley-Denali. The duo planned to repeat the route along with Mario Taller, Stefano Bendetti, Massimiliano Gasperetti and Giovanni Gasperetti but despite their efforts they realised that they the early season timing, the unstable weather and the numerous accidents, some of which fatal, rendered their objective difficult and above all unsafe.
On 23 May Massimiliano and Giovanni Gasperetti reached the summit of Denali via the normal route up the West Buttress and the next day Mario Taller and Stefano Benedetti summited via the same route. Fabio Meraldi and Diego Giovannini on the other hand were attracted by the East Spur of Kahiltna Peaks West, a beautiful peak close to Denali's Camp 1 which reaches 3914m in height.
Meraldi and Giovannini set off on 24 May to explore the spur and in 12 demanding hours reached the sumit of Kahiltna Peaks West via a great 1800m line. Only after the ascent did they discover that the route had been attempted three years previously by a Japanese expedition which was then presumed lost. The "first ascent" was confirmed and validated by the Denali Park Rangers. Meraldi and Giovannini climbed 75-80° ice, snowy ridges, mixed sections with difficulties up to 5.6 rock, grade 4 and seracs. The descent was carried out down the line of ascent with numerous abseils and downclimbing to reach Camp1 despite the heavy snowfall.
Fabio Meraldi: from Valfurva in Valtella, Mountain Guide, one fo the fastest high altitude mountaineers of all times. His 12 hour ascent of Shisha Pangma (8013m - Tibet) remains unbeaten, and he holds the record for Aconcagua (6963m - Argentina) in 4 hours 50 minutes (ascent & descent). Other climbs include Mont Blanc from Courmayeur 6:45 (ascent & descent), Monte Rosa from Alagna (4:24) and other records on Adamello and in the Dolomites. He has enchained the North Faces of Pizzo Tresero Pedranzini Dosegù - San Matteo in 6 hours, and Meraldi is widely considered a forerunner for modern high altitude sky runners. His 2003 record ascent of Everest is worth noting, as are his ski mountaineering victories (10 Pierra Menta), the Mezzalama Trophy and the Sellaronda Skimarathon (6 times).
Diego Giovannini: a professional photographer and cameraman, Giovannini has climbed numerous rock and ice climbs across the Alps. He has ascended Huascaran in the Andes in just 4 days departing from Huaraz, Aconcagua and a section of the Hielo Continental traverse in Patagonia. In the Himalaya he ascendedCho Oyu (8201m) alone in just 10 days, Gasherbrum II (8035m) alone and Muztahg Ata (7550m) in a day from base camp. His best achievement was carried out in 2008 in when together with Franco Nicolini he ascended the 82 4000ers in the Alps in 60 days.
by Davide Chiesa