Jacob Weasel was in a fight with a mountain. Hurricane-force winds bombarded him with snow and brought the wind chill down to 50 below. Standing at over 19,000 feet, staring up at the Autobahn — the 1,000 feet of notoriously icy slope between high camp and the summit of Denali — he was about to lose.
Despite pleading with his guides to let them continue, and after 18 days of sleeping on the ice, it was the closest he’d get to the top of North America’s tallest peak.
But Denali, coming in at 20,310 feet, wasn’t Weasel’s first nor his highest adventure at altitude. The spry and fit young Monument Health trauma surgeon and member of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe had successfully climbed Mt. Rainier (14,411 ft.), Cloud Peak (13,171 ft.), Grand Teton (13,775 ft.) and a handful of 14-ers in Colorado. He summited Cotopaxi (19,347 ft.) and Chimborazo (20,549 ft.) in Ecuador within 48 hours of each other, and bagged Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft.) in Tanzania — checking off that continent’s tallest peak.
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Jacob Weasel, a