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Cassin Speed Ascent

Denali (20,320′), showing the upper West Buttress (numerous lines, from ca. 2,500′ to 3,500′ and up to 5.9 85 degrees) on the left skyline and the Cassin Ridge (Alaska Grade 5: 5.8 AI4 65 degrees, 9,000′), the prominent line that runs up the photo’s center, Denali National Park, Alaska. Following other tragedies on the mountain this season, two climbers–James Nasti of Naperville, IL and Pungkas Tri Baruno of Jakarta, Indonesia–collapsed, unexpectedly and fatally, in separate incidents early this July. [Photo] NPS collection

In early May, British mountaineers Jonathan Griffith and Will Sim climbed Cassin Ridge in 14 hours and 40 minutes. This is the fastest speed ascent of the iconic ridge to date, but only just. In 1991, Mugs Stump — a renowned American Alpinist who perished in 1992 — also climbed the Cassin Ridge in an alpine fashion. And in just 15 hours (only 20 minutes slower than the current and recently established record), Stump peaked out.

While the two had not intended or expected to break Stump’s speed record up the ridge, Sim said in his blog that the climb was worthwhile simply for its own sake. “It was also great to just climb this uber alpine test piece,” he said, “which is arguably one of the most famous alpine routes in the world.”

Sources: David Walter Falt,, Jon Griffith –,,