2016 Denali – General Update

We received some photos and a report from our Lead Guide Sebastian Grau, whose team spent a tough night at 14,200′ last night.  Seba reported winds of 60-80 mph throughout the night, which destroyed a neighboring guided team’s kitchen tent and made for a rough night’s sleep.

wind at 14,200 feet

Our team worked very hard yesterday, cutting 20-40 pound blocks of snow from the firm bed of the glacier and stacking them in a fashion to provide wind breaks for our tents.  Good thing!!  It is brutal work to cut hundreds of snow blocks, but our crew was happily sipping coffee this morning, while their neighbors were huddled in the vestibules of their tents, having lost their group sanctuary from the wind.

snow walls at 14200 feet

mt kitchen tent on denali 2016

There are some reports of a couple teams that pushed up to high camp in the last day or so that appear to be having some difficulties.  None of those are Mountain Trip groups, and the word we received is that they are not guided teams.  We don’t have much information, but wanted to assure everyone that our teams are doing well.  The weather on the upper mountain is really terrible at the moment, with tremendously strong winds buffeting the upper reaches of Denali.

They say that a picture can be worth a thousand words.  I’m not sure the image below accurately conveys how grim the weather is at the 17,200′ high camp.  high camp is on the snowy plateau in the center of the image below, situated a full 3000′ above the point where Seba shot the photo.  The plumes of snow blowing off the ridge are probably a thousand feet long, if that helps provide some context…

winds at denali high camp 2016We have not heard from our teams on the lower reaches of the mountain, but the bulk of the high wind has been on the upper levels of Denali.  Seba’s team and our West Rib team of Seth, Pablo and Juliana are all tucked in at 14,200′ camp, watching the wind, eating well and preparing themselves for the next window of decent weather in which to move up the mountain.

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  1. Thinking about you and your team every day my brother. Get it done!!! I have full faith in your strength and experience!!!!

  2. My sis, Debbie, your endurance is a special gift from Dad & Mom and from persevering grandparents & great-grandparents before them… AND so importantly, you have your DENALI TEAM!!! I feel this special strength you all have through your Mountaintrip.com messages! You shall prevail…

  3. Nice to hear an update..was getting worried about you guys. 🙂 I hope the weather settles down a bit so you have the chance to complete your trip. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way! Take care and miss you Deb!

  4. Relieved to hear you are all well! Prayers for better conditions??
    One of my all time favorites, hope it helps all of you as well!!!

    If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.
    A.A. Milne

    Stay brave, stay strong, stay smart Wendy Gustin!!! I love you!!!

  5. Glad to get the general update. Sounds like things are wild up there. We r with u each step. Hope the weather clears soon. Bet u got some great stories to tell. Can’t wait to hear them all. Stay safe and I know you are strong.xoxo.

  6. Woot! You are having a true adventure. I’m so proud of you, Debbie and just know you have a massage or two waiting for you. xoxox

  7. Not to put any pressure on you guys but a 12 year old just summited. 😉

    Stay focused, and keep your head in the game.

  8. Wendy, Great to see the pics and get the update. Prayers for calmer weather and we’re looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back! John and Sue.

  9. Stay strong Debbie and the rest of the team. Prayers for you all that the weather breaks and that you will be able to continue your ascent soon. Reminder to all: You believed you could, so you did. Keep playing it smart and carry on.

  10. Lance Shaw you ROCK. We are waving to you from ANC. Hoping you get a weather break soon. There’s a Hop Cooler in the downstairs fridge when you get back.

    Dave and Toni

  11. thank you thank you for the photos and the update: how exciting to see the photo from Sebastian describing the wind conditions at your next camp! It helps us see why you have to sit tight behind your snow fortress! Bless your hardy souls! Wendy, you are our families’ pride and joy, you take our breath away with this expedition, so we send AZ sunshine and warmer weather to you for the rest of the path! Love, cuz Mary

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