A short but steep couloir acts as a shortcut to the lower West Buttress


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The most popular and easiest way to ski down from Denali, this handy route can be used as a means to descend from 17k Camp or as part of a complete ski descent from the summit.

It is also sometimes used as a climbing route to bypass the fixed ropes and ridge on the lower portion of the West Buttress.

This can save time if there is already a good track in place.

However, the classic West Buttress gets the sun earlier and also the ridge between the fixed ropes and 17k Camp is one of the most enjoyable sections of the West Buttress. When Killian Jornet set the speed record on Denali by making the return trip from Basecamp in an astonishing sub 12 hour time, he chose to climb rescue gully with a track ready made in place for him.

Similarly, top alpinist Colin Haley also chose to climb Rescue Gully when going for his own speed record up the West Buttress.

However, most teams will be better off sticking with the normal West Buttress route.

Rescue Gully starts directly from 17k Camp and is a very efficient way to descend 1,000 vertical meters back to 14k Camp if on skis.

The entrance is steep (briefly 45-50 degrees) and demands good technique or judicious side slipping.

Once past the narrow entry gully, the slope quickly broadens into a large face with an angle of between 35-40 degrees.

Take care to watch out for exposed sections of ice here.

It is then easy to rejoin the main track and make some GS turns straight back into camp down an attractive 30 degree slope.