This page is dedicated to the world's greatest mountain guide = > Dave Hahn

This page chronicles an RMI Expedition to Denali in 2004 - site built by Bill Span who was lucky enough to be on the climb with Dave

2010 Article on the current state of where Dave is on the planet's highest mountains


Some people say Denali is the coldest mountain in the world. It tops out at 20,320 feet, making
it the highest mountain in North America. All other 20,000 foot peaks are between 43 North
and 32 South Latitudes. Denali sits at 63 degrees North, just a hundred miles from the Arctic Circle.

Average weather conditions on Denali at 14,000 feet are equal to those on Everest at 26,000 feet.

Denali as seen from the North near Eielson visitor center. 40 miles away. The left peak is the highest one.

In terms of pure mass, Denali is the biggest mountain on Earth. Measuring vertical relief,
Denali is the tallest, rising 20,000 from the surrounding lowlands.

Home sweet home  - photo courtesy of Matsumoto Gallery

Tent on the glacier with Denali in background - photo courtesy of Matsumoto Gallery


More than 100 people have died attempting to summit Denali, dozens have died from being flash frozen.
Winds sometimes exceed 150 miles per hour. In winter - it can reach 148 below zero with wind chill.

Luckily, our expedition was in July, the warmest time of year.

James Wickersham, a U.S. District Judge, was the first to reach the summit of the mountain

Our climb followed the West Buttress Route (marked in blue)

The primary base camp is at 14,200. Summit attempts are launched from the High Camp at 17,200


Very detailed map of the climb, click icon on lower left to enlarge (courtesy QT Luong)


Famed mountain guide Dave Hahn lead the expedition
(photo by Eric Simonson owner of IMG)

Dave was a recipient of the 2001 Denali Pro Mountaineer of the Year Award for rescue work on the mountain.
Dave's made it to the top of Denali 15 times in 21 attempts.

photo courtesy of Quokka

Dave has made it five times to the summit of Everest in seven attempts.

One of the most experienced professional guides on Everest, Dave participated in the rescue of five climbers high on Everest's North
Ridge last season, earning the David A. Sowles Memorial Award from the American Alpine Club. He has been climbing for 25 years
and has been a professional mountain guide for 18 years. Dave lives in Taos, N.M., where he works on the ski patrol.

Looking down on 14,000 foot camp from high camp at 17,200 feet (courtesy QT Luong)

17,000 foot camp (courtesy QT Luong)

The summit ridge (courtesy QT Luong)


Some of the gear I acquired for the trip below:

I picked up these boots that are good to 50 below to keep my feet warm: Millet Everest Boots


This Marmot CWM down bag is good to forty below.

I chose the Gregory Denali backpack because it carries large loads the best.


This rest of this site tells the story of our RMI Denali Expedition from July 4th thru July 25th, 2004

Bill Span can be reached at

All photos by Span unless otherwise noted


Our expedition leader: Dave Hahn, Bill Span and our crazy bush pilot: Chuck. Getting ready to fly from Talkeetna to Mount McKinley


Span on the uphill side of Windy Corner at around 13,000 feet (photo by Mitch)

The glacier we'd be traveling on for the next 20 days looks like this from the air, the blue spots are pools of standing water called: taryns

Approaching the landing zone at 7,200 feet

Basecamp: were all expeditions start at 7,200 feet, when we got back to this place, we were the only ones here, and we we left, the mountain was "people free"

Basecamp pictures

Camp One: 5 miles in at 7,800 feet

Denali from Camp One

A view out the door of my tent. These sleds were hauled up and down the mountain

Mitch Crasson


Denali overlooks the white and green "posh tent" were we dined

World's best mountain guides: Lindsay Reither, Justin Merle and Tyler Jones (with back to camera)

Meals were cooked in a hole dug in the snow. Tyler, here, is heating snow for drinking water

Camp Three: 11,600 feet and the views were incredible

Views of Camp Three and world famous adventurer: Nathan Dolbeare in foreground

Above are all views of Camp Three

Rest break halfway up the section from 14,200 to 16,200, just before where the fixed lines start

This is the steepest section of climb (camera is at the wrong angle). We ascended a fixed line from 15,400 to 16,200 feet

Span on the ridge just before high camp at 17,200 feet

Scott, and guides Tyler and Justin in the dining tent during a meal at 17,200 feet

Matt is in the blue jersey

Happy climbers relaxing in the posh tent at 17,200 feet

17,000 foot Mt. Foraker above the clouds viewed from high camp at 17,200 feet

Looking down on 14,200 camp from high camp at 17,200 feet

Dave Hahn, Joe, Mitch and Span at 17,200

They call this place: The Edge of the World

Span at 17,200 feet with Mount Foraker in background

Denali Pass

Aerial from the book, "Wings Over Denali" shows how extremely large the mountain is when looking at the size of the 7 climbers on route.

I reached my high point of the trip, 18,600 feet, at the top of the pass marked: HERE. My glove was lost: THERE

Our first ascent attempt was made on day 13 of the trip, while a lenticular cloud hovered over the summit. The hope was
that the cloud, that was pushing 30 to 40 knot winds down the mountain, would go away. It did not and the attempt turned back
at 19,000 feet

Temperature was around zero and the wind chill was very brisk to say the least, about 50 below.

The following day, four clients and guides Dave Hahn and Justin Merle reached the summit and made it back to High Camp by 11 pm.

The clients that reached the summit were Nicky Messner, Scott Fangman, Matt Wilson and Steve Smith.
They ascended in a cloud with very limited visibility. One client got minor frostbite on the tips of his fingers.
The summit trip was accomplished in weather similiar to the first day's attempt.

Clients: Nicky Messner, Scott Fangman, Matt Wilson and Steve Smith on the summit of Denali with guide Justin Merle

Photo by Dave Hahn (laying down).

Just below the 14,200 camp

Dave Hahn, on the way down, at 12,000 feet

Mitch Crasson

Descending Motorcycle Hill to 11,600 foot camp that is visible at the end of the bootpath

Joe and Scott at 11,600

Joe at 11,600 camp

Dave is feeling good!

Expedition favorite, Tyler Jones, cooks eggs for a hungry crew

Matt Wilson has a victory cigar after descending from 17,200 feet to 11,600 camp. He topped out at 20,320 feet the day before.

Joe Hollowell and Span during a rest break on the final 10 hour push from 11,600 to the LZ at 7,200 feet (photo by Mitch)

Lindsay, Span, Justin and Mitch celebrating in Talkeetna after the climb (photo by Mitch)

We were the last climbers on the mountain for the 2004 season.


Bill Span can be reached at

I'm planning a June 2006 expedition of Denali. Email me if you are interested

Or contact me if you are interested in climbing Denali as a rookie.
I can make sure you connect with the right people, the greatest guides in the world.

If you can't sleep or you are really bored, you can learn more about Bill Span here