From the loneliness of Denali to the bustle of Talkeetna

TALKEETNA — Two weeks passed in a blur of snow, insomnia and oxygen deprivation on ice-bound Denali. Eventually, the monotony of movement numbed all thought; our bodies shrank into nothing but focused breathing, our minds into tight fists.

My Swiss-born climbing buddy, Laurent Dick, and I lived like ticks in dog fur, entrenched in the mountain's flanks and its glaciers' skin, not for nourishment but protection. At 16,200 feet, Laurent showed signs of altitude sickness, and we had to...

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