Ted Lebedz called in a nice shout out to family in Omaha and the teams at Joint Base Elmendorf, as he gave us an update on the team. The weather finally broke! After days of rain and wet, heavy snow, the climbers were graced with beautiful views of the Alaska Range today.
They shouldered backpacks and pulled some sleds up the first steep hill of the trip, one dubbed Motorcycle Hill, which rises immediately to the east of their camp. This 1000′ climb required the use of crampons and an ice axe, so for the climbers, it felt like the actual climbing had begun, after days of approaching the climb via the Kahiltna Glacier.
Above Motorcycle Hill they negotiated the even steeper series of slopes collectively known as Squirrel Hill before climbing gradually along the bottom of the rocky crags and steep snow chutes of the West Buttress proper. The bottom of the West Buttress makes a hard left turn as the climbers passed around the infamous Windy Corner, a steep rock feature that can funnel wind in the faces of prospective alpinists. Not today! They passed it in light winds, with huge views of nearby Mount Hunter and Mount Foraker, seen over the tops of the 12,000 foot Kahiltna Peaks.
The team cached supplies at about 13,500′ before descending to Camp 2 for the night. Tomorrow, they plan to head back uphill, pass their cache and establish a new camp in a huge basin located at 14,200′.
Here’s Ted! (Sorry for the pun in the title – couldn’t resist!)