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Denali, South Face first ski descent and fast Cassin Ridge ascent

Swedish skier Andreas Fransson has carried out the first ski descent of the South Face of Denali (6197m), while British alpinists Jonathan Griffith and Will Sim have sped up the Cassin ridge in 14 hours 40 minutes.

Denali, Cassin ridge
The impressive South Face of Denali with the immense Cassin ridge in the centre. Photo by Nicola Bonaiti

Swedish skier Andreas Fransson has carried out the first ski descent of the South Face of Denali (6197m), while British alpinists Jonathan Griffith and Will Sim have sped up the Cassin ridge in 14 hours 40 minutes.

The Chamonx-based skier acclimatised by ascending and skiing the Orient Express couloir twice and then climbed to the summit with partner Kastengren before dropping down the south face alone. According to a report published on outerlocal, the first 5000ft were dispatched in circa half an hour, but then the descent became complicated and Fransson was forced to traverse using crampons and ice axe, then make four abseils. As temperatures rose rocks started falling, so the Swede sheltered in the couloir for 6 hours before making a desperate break at 11pm, down climbing, abseiling and skiing wherever possible. After crossing the bergrschrund he waited for the light of dawn, then resumed skiing at 5.00am to negotiate the crevassed glacier. Fransson described his descent as follows “Half of what I down climbed at the end would have been possible to ski during the day, in better conditions, but I wasn’t really thinking of that.” He then continued “It’s going to be hard for anyone to do it much better—you could probably ski 300 or 400 meters more than I did. Out of 4000 meters, I skied 3000 or so, so it’s still OK.”

Read the full report on Planetmountain.com

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