First Ski Descent of Huge Denali South Face

Looking down on the descent. Photo courtesy of Andreas Fransson

Looking down on the descent. Photo courtesy of Andreas Fransson

7/8/11 - Swedish extreme skier Andreas Fransson recently completed the first ski descent of the huge South Face of Denali in Alaska.

After acclimatizing by skiing the Orient Express coulior twice, he climbed to the summit (20,320 feet) with his partner Magnus Kastengren before descending solo, following for the most part the Haston-Scott Route. He reportedly dispatched the first 1,500 meters in only 30 minutes, but he had to pull up due to icy conditions and downclimb, then rappel four times. Rising temperatures caused unstable snow and rockfall, forcing Fransson to take shelter for six hours. At 11 p.m., he was able to start moving again, but after crossing the bergschrund he waited until 5 a.m. for better light to ski down the crevassed glacier.

He ended up skiing a total of about 3,000 of the 4,000 meters. Shortly after his descent, he met back up with Kastengren to climb the Cassin Ridge in a 33-hour round-trip (including a nine-hour bivy). Two days later, Fransson skied the 5,000-foot Messner Couloir on Denali.

See an interview with Fransson at See photos and more info on Fransson's blog.

Date of ascent: June 2011