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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!
David Rickman, climbing with his two sons, called in after a great day of progress. The team carried a load of supplies high onto the ridge that leads to their next camp, the 17,220′ high camp.
The work entailed departing camp early, and hiking upwards about 1400′ to the bottom of a stretch of route known as the Headwall. This has ropes affixed at regular intervals for about 600′. The climbers have mechanical ascenders tethered to their harnesses, which are in turn clipped into the fixed ropes for security.
Most teams cache right near the top of the fixed ropes and most Mountain Trip groups cache about 200′ further up the ridge. The May 13 crew climbed past our traditional cache site to bury their supplies below a prominent rock known as Washburn’s Thumb. That is strong work!
Here’s David “Papa” Rickman!
Rick Notley called in from 14,200′ camp, after the team carried a load of supplies up to the ridge at about 16,400′. We’re happy to announce that Rick has set a new personal altitude record with today’s endeavor!
The weather has not been very amenable to travel of late, so there were a number of climbers who took advantage of today’s clear weather. The route above 14 Camp is one of the areas where it bottlenecks, and funnels all ascending climbers into one path, in this case, the “Headwall,” which is a steep, 600′, icy face with ropes affixed from top to bottom.
As the climbers ascend the Headwall, they clip mechanical ascenders (fancy term for a one directional rope clamp) to the fixed ropes. The ascenders are in turn tethered to the climbers harnesses, giving them an additional level of security in the event of a slip. At the top of the Headwall, they climbed up a couple hundred feet of exciting ridge line to a flat spot where our teams traditionally put in their last cache of the expedition.
After caching, they dropped back down to camp for the night. The plan will be to move up to the 17,200′ high camp tomorrow or possibly the next day.
Lead guide Scott Woolums called in from Kahiltna Base Camp, located at 7,200′ (2200m) on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. Glaciers are essentially rivers of ice, and the Southeast Fork is a tributary of the immense Kahiltna Glacier, which runs from north to south.
Tomorrow morning, the team will descend the Southeast Fork (remember – rivers run down hill!) to its confluence with the Kahiltna. They will turn right and head north for several miles until they reach the site of their Camp 1, somewhere near 7,800′. With good travel conditions, this should take them about six hours of travel time.
John Klein called in a nice post from the beautiful basin camp at 11,200′. Today, the team took it easy and did a “backcarry” today, meaning they dropped back down to the site of their supply cache at about 10,200′ and retrieved their kit. They will use this strategy at higher camps as well. Among other benefits, it helps the climbers spread their ascent gain over an additional day, by giving them essentially an active rest day after sleeping at the higher elevation.
The trip down to the cache site took about 30 minutes and they took their time hiking back up to 11,200′. The weather sounds beautiful and they had some spectacular views.
Yesterday was a big day for this team. They made the trek to 14,ooo’ from 11,000′. Everyone is feeling good and looking forward to getting some rest before moving again sometime this week. Let’s hope the weather supports another move uphill soon. Thanks for the update Oliver!
When the weather is bad on Denali the best thing a team can do is stay active, be patient and remain positive. After taking short acclimatization hikes, eating a few big meals it sounds like this team is doing everything right. Here is Fabian from 14.
Yesterday the team cached a load of equipment and supplies at 16,200′ on the ridge above 14 Camp. Immediately out of camp the team began their ascent of the “headwall”, a steep section on the West Buttress route that has fixed lines to aide in the ascent. Once at the top of the headwall, they climbed an additional 500′ and left their cache of food and fuel. The team is in a good position to move up to High Camp, they just need a window of good weather for the final push. Solveig and Per have elected to descend, and Mountain Trip guide Nick will accompany them back to Base Camp.
Here’s a team member with an update:
Today this team will carry their cache from up to camp. Once they move their food, equipment and get some exercise they will look to cache again at Windy Corner tomorrow. Sounds like the route conditions good and everyone is working well together. Here is Kevin with an update.
We are pleased to welcome the team members of our 6th Denali team of the 2015 climbing season. The team consists of climbers from points south—-Chile, to be exact. 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. The guides have been busy packing food and the team equipment as well as reviewing skills, procedures and strategies for the expedition.
Let’s meet the team!
Carmen de Castro
And the Mountain Trip guides:
Scott Woolums, from Hood River, Oregon
Aaron Diamond, from Honesdale, Pennsylvania
and Maria Paz Ibarra “Pachi” Letelier from Chile
Later today the team will gather for a team meeting/equipment check in Anchorage. Following an overview of the expedition and a detailed discussion of the days to come, the climbers will double check their equipment and pack up lunch and snack items for the climb. The plan is to depart Anchorage early Wednesday morning for the two hour drive north to Talkeetna, where the team will check in with our air taxi service and participate in a mandatory National Park Service climber orientation. If the weather cooperates, the team will fly to the Kahiltna glacier tomorrow afternoon.
We will do our best to provide daily updates from the field, but please understand that on occasion, we will most likely miss a day or two. This can result from the team being busy and not having time to call in or from weather and terrain variables, either of which can make calling in from Denali a challenge.
Thank you all for following our trip blog, I hope Robert kept you all well entertained and informed on most of our audio dispatches, thanks Robert!!
Here is Durny with an update, sounds fun.
The May 6 Team finally caught a break last night, they were able to catch a flight to Talkeetna and beds in Anchorage. Thanks for your hard work everyone.
The May 13 Team is hunkering down. After a stormy night they built camp walls out snow bricks made by hand with a saw and shovel. The 14,000’ basin is a beautiful place but the weather can be tough. Sounds like everyone slept well after fortifying camp and eating burritos.
Here is Zach to fill you in on what they see and what their plan is.
The weather has been a challenge but it sounds it sounds like the accommodations are “top flight and rival any New York City hotel”. Glad to hear everyone is settling into roles and working as a team, especially, Delicious Dan & Digging Dan.