The June 24 WB expedition is back in town! We made it back to Anchorage this afternoon after a late-night extra-special TAT glacier pick-up from Paul Roderick and his Turbine Otter “0 Papa Romeo” yesterday.
We, that is the remaining strongholds of our original team, Matt Foote and Karin Schoeman, and Adam and I. We lost two of our South African team members after the first two days at 14K, Sanet Venter and Rose Gardner, who descended with our third guide Nick. They were an awesome part of our team, and we were sad to see them go down.
At 14K camp, we had positioned ourselves well for the upper mountain. Cason Crane from Mountain Trip’s June 17th team joined us and was a great, spirited addition to our group. We had carried a load up the fixed lines right before a big low pressure system engulfed the mountain, but then had to wait for over a meter of snow with lots of wind to settle and conditions to improve. We ran out of time, waiting, as snow stability didn’t improve enough to allow us to climb past the headwall and up the ridge to 17K camp and attempting the summit.
It was sad for everyone in our group when we had to make the call to descend. We knew we had worked hard and were ready for the upper mountain, but just didn’t get our window of opportunity to move up.
Three members of our team, Tessa Walker-Linderman, Roman Mocik, and Markus Thielen, decided to join Mountain Trip’s June 26th team, led by Kevin Koprek, who had a couple more days in their schedule, hoping for a bit more time to get a chance at the upper mountain. In turn, a couple team members of Kevin’s group, John Wutzer and Holly Freeman, joined us on our descent.
New rope teams and new friends were made, and so we arrived at base camp. It was a great journey on Denali, and I want to congratulate everyone, whether new or old to our team, for the effort and hard work they put into it. It was great to spend this time on the mountain with all of you, and thank you for what you all brought to the team. I hope you will continue to travel in the mountains and be inspired by them! I’ll leave you with my favorite quote of the trip, which Rose told me, when she decided to join her friend for the descent: “Mountaineering is for the soul.”
A final team photo from 14,200 ft camp before they left.