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Expedition Dispatches From Around The Globe!
Posts for every team can be found under the drop-down menus at the right of this page. We have organized our expeditions into Denali, International and Mount Everest categories, with further organization by their Team Meeting Date. We try to post from each team on each day, but this is not always possible, due to communication challenges in mountainous regions, so keep in mind that “No News Is Good News!”
Click on the audio dispatch icons to hear phone calls from our climbers and guides, so that you can better enjoy the experience through their words, not ours. Click on a post’s title to open it in its own window to leave a comment for your favorite climber. Above all, have fun and dream big!
Robert Lentz called in a nice update from the basin camp at 14,200′. The team took a planned rest and acclimatization day today, after carrying gear and supplies up to 16,400′ yesterday.
This camp’s elevation is very important for climbers, as it is high enough to help build acclimatization, but not so high as to cause their bodies to deteriorate, which is often what happens after spending time up at the 17,200′ high camp. We typically plan to spend at least four nights at this camp, before launching to the higher camp.
The weather forecast called for fairly high winds, so the team spent some time fortifying their camp by cutting blocks of snow and stacking them so as to create walls around their tents. They have specific snow saws to facilitate cutting blocks from the firm surface of camp. This is tough work, but without additional protection, most tents cannot withstand extreme winds. The exercise is also important as it helps the climbers acclimatize a bit better than if they just spent the day lying around in their tents.
It was a blustery day but the May 13 team punched through it and they were able to cache a load of equipment and supplies around Windy Corner. Durny reports that aptly named Windy Corner lived up to it’s name, but all the climbers moved well and are feeling good.
The plan is to move to 14 Camp tomorrow, weather permitting.
Olivier reports that the team moved from Camp 1 to Camp 2 today. Based on Olivier’s comments, it sounds like the team got a taste of the strong winds that Denali is known for! Everyone is doing well and feeling good, and enjoying some of Eli’s famous mountain cooking.
The plan for tomorrow is to drop back down and pick up the cached items that the team left a few days ago.
The team moved to Camp 3 today. Here’s the report!
Today the team got their first taste of the upper mountain. They left camp and quickly ascended the head of the Genet basin, up the “headwall”, on a series of fixed lines. The team topped out the ridge, and followed it for another 200′ of elevation gain. At 16,400′ the team buried a load of equipment and supplies in a cache pit, took a rest, then descended back to camp. Ascending the ridge is steep, fun climbing, and Seba reports that everyone did really well. Good work, team!
The plan is to take a rest day tomorrow, and watch the weather carefully for an opportunity to move up to High Camp.
Durny reports that today the team dropped down approximately 1,000′ to pick up their cached equipment and supplies. It’s a relatively short distance to the cache site, and one of the easier days of the climb. Once back at camp, the team enjoyed a dinner of hot pulled pork sandwiches and pizza. Yumm yumm!
Unfortunately the satellite call was cut short, but we are still able to hear from climber David Jones from the May 16 team. The team carried a load of equipment and supplies to a cache site at 10,200′, just below Camp 2. It sounds like the team experienced light wind and snow as they were on the move, but the weather did not hamper their progress. David reports that everyone on the team is doing well.
We received another nice update, in Norwegian, from the May 11th team. The team had a weather day at 11 Camp, and the plan is to move to 14 Camp tomorrow.
Robert Lentz called in a very nice and detailed update from the team’s Camp 3, located in a broad basin at 14,200′ on Denali. Today, the team dropped back down to retrive the cache of supplies they had buried near Windy Corner (the sun/shadow ridge at the bottom center of the image below) two days ago.
The descent to the cache site is pretty quick, and they were digging up their kit within a half hour of departing camp. The hike back up to camp took them a bit over an hour, so today was essentially an active rest day, which was well-deserved after the big, tough move up to “14 Camp” yesterday.
In the afternoon, the team reviewed skills that they will employ tomorrow, when they carry a load of supplies up onto the ridge that leads to High Camp. They will ascend the steepest section of the West Buttress route, the infamous “Headwall.” This 200 meter section climbs ice and firm snow to about 50 degrees, and the climbers will clip into ropes that are affixed to the slope, as part of their security in the event of a slip. Today’s review of skills included “fixed line” practice, in which the climbers practiced efficient use of their mechanical ascenders, which are sort of one way rope clamps that slide in one direction up a rope, clamping on and preventing downward movement when weighted. Affixed to the climbers’ harnesses with webbing or stout cord, these ascenders are very effective in preventing a fall.
Due to the vagaries of using satellite phones in the mountains, some of tonight’s transmission was cut off, but sounds like the team voted Lead Guide Eli Potter to be the spokesperson again, tonight. Eli reports that the team traveled 5 miles up the beautiful Kahiltna glacier, and arrived in good time at Camp 1. They were establishing camp and enjoying a hot drink.
Tomorrow the plan is to continue moving up the glacier and cache a load of equipment and supplies at 10,200′
Team May 11 called in a nice report tonight, and if anyone would like to offer us the English translation, please feel free to post it in the comment section!
It was a beautiful, still day for the team to make the push from Camp 2, around Windy Corner, and up to 14 Camp. This camp is nestled in the beautiful Genet basin, and it rewards climbers with incredible views of Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter.
The team got busy establishing camp, erecting tents and building snow walls as show in the photo above. The wind can really howl on the upper mountain, and it’s common practice to fortify camp with snow walls at 14 Camp and at High Camp.
Good work, team!
We are pleased to welcome the team members of our 5th Denali team of the 2015 climbing season. The team consists of climbers from points around the world. Climbing a big, cold mountain such as Denali entails a lot of preparation, as well as a healthy dose of trust in your partners. We really appreciate the trust these climbers have placed in us as partners in their upcoming experience.
Let’s meet the team!
Jorge Luis Decurgez from Chile
Kevin Baker from Colorado
Dmitry Orlov from Russia
John Klein from Arizona
Lajos Olah from Hungary
Alain Tardif from Canada
And our guide team:
Joe Butler from Alaska
Zac Davies from Colorado
Joda Hankins from Colorado
On Wednesday the group will gather for a team meeting/equipment check at the Millennium Alaska Hotel, in Anchorage. We will post as often as possible and the team will call in audio posts from the field as well. Please understand that updating this dispatch page involves numerous moving parts and the planets aligning well enough for the team to make successful satellite phone transmissions from a very rugged area. When posts are not made on a daily basis, please hold onto the old axiom of, “No news is good news!” More often than not, if we do not post an update, it merely means that the team might be too busy to call out from the glacier or perhaps the weather or neighboring tall peaks prevented them from calling our office.