Jost Kobusch, 22 days alone and in winter on the Denali in Alaska

1st Messner couloir winter ascent

Jost Kobusch at the exit of the Messner Couloir, during his one-push ascent to the Denali, from camp 3 of the West Buttress. ©J. Kobusch

By reaching the summit of Denali (6,190 m, Alaska) last February 19 during the night, the German mountaineer Jost Kobusch became, at the age of 30, the 5th man to climb this summit alone and in winter, and the 1st by the Messner couloir route, a direct variant slightly more technical than the normal route of the West Buttress. At the cost of extreme polar temperatures and 22 days of total solitude. Interview.

In winter 2019, Jost Kobusch made his first attempt to climb Denali alone in winter, but it was disrupted by the US government shutdown. This winter, the German mountaineer thus succeeded in climbing the highest point of Alaska alone via the Messner couloir (Messner/Oelz, 1977, but first ski descent by Sylvain Saudan in 1972).

It is a first in winter by this route, and the 5th winter solo ascent of the summit since the first of its kind by the American Vernon Tejas. On March 7, 1988, during a month-long expedition, Tejas reached the summit via the normal West Buttress route. Before him, the Japanese Naomi Uemura had made a solo winter ascent of the same route in 1984, but did not return alive. This was followed by David Staeheli in March 1989 on the more technical West Rib route and Lonnie Dupre on West Buttress only 26 years later in January 2015. Understand that in these hostile Alaskan lands, winter is not much coveted by solo mountaineers (The first winter summit was achieved in February