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Messner Couloir


The most sought after ski line on Denali and one of North America's most classic steep ski descents.

Ski Touring Severe

3.7 km
99 m
1.9 km
1-2 hrs
Low Point
4.4 km
High Point
6.2 km
Messner Couloir Map

The Messner Couloir is essentially a massive face funnelling into a couloir directly above 14k Camp. Most teams opt to climb the West Buttress and drop in onsight to the Messner rather than breaking trail up the Messner which would be more physically demanding.


Starting from the summit of Denali, the Messner is an awesome way to ski back into camp giving 2,000 meters of skiing. The meat of the line is 1,000 meters of sustained 45 degree skiing where falling on hard snow or ice would have very serious consequences. It is tricky to get good snow top to bottom in the Messner with the best conditions usually found in June.

Given good conditions, it is possible to start your descent from the summit taking a direct line down Pig Hill. After schussing onto the flat ground of the 'Football Field' you will need to annoyingly take your skis off and climb briefly past the Archdeacons Tower. From here ski down and locate the entrance to the line. After finding the entrance, route finding is very straightforward. Take care near the bottom of the descent to find a good line though what is often some exposed ice and a slightly broken glacial face.

While never extremely steep, the Messner requires skiers to have solid technique on a long and tiring descent most of which is a no fall zone.



Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between May and June


  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Couloir
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area