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Denali 2000 "Blueskies" Expedition (May 13 - June 5)

Three ambitious mountaineers: Frank Masci (Australia/US), Francisco Borja (El Salvodor/US) and Fausto Vinces (Peru/US) embarked on an expedition to reach the top of North America. Mt McKinley (or "Denali") stands at 20,323ft. Its unpredictable and demoralising wind storms, heavily crevassed glaciers, "thin" Arctic air and sub -30C temperatures combine to give an unrelenting power, immense beauty and curiousity, exceeding that encountered in the Himalaya. Only the brave-hearted and determined, or those who want to understand themselves and nature better through mutual respect will succeed. Our goal was to appreciate all these things and more...

We climbed via the popular West Buttress route, circumventing crevasse falls, 100 mile per hour winds, hyperthermia, frostbite and lassitude. After 9,700ft, our Peruvian climber Fausto bailed out due to a severe nauseating illness. Myself (Frank) and Francisco were left with the herculean task of reaching the summit. Being tent-bound in a huge four-day storm at 17,200ft with a dying food supply and deterioating brains, we decided to abort and head down. We don't feel defeated, but rewarded by experiencing the mountain's elements and enormity. Lessons were learn't, the fragility of life understood, loved ones became closer, and a burning desire to appreciate everything life has to offer will remain with us for eternity.

Much of the satisfaction and feeling of achievement, when it gets down to it, is just too private to express in words.

--Frank Masci (07/18/2000)

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Email (Frank Masci): fmasci@ipac.caltech.edu / My Work Homepage

Email (Francisco Borja): javierborja@hotmail.com