Mountain trip Guide Fischer Hazen called in after the Mountain-Network team carried loads up onto the beautiful ridge above Camp 3. They shouldered their packs and set forth out of camp, hiking for an hour up moderately steep slopes before taking a break under sunny skies below the steepest part of the West Buttress route. The Headwall, as it is known, rises 600′ from a bergschrund, a type of crevasse that forms along the topmost edge of a snow slope or glacier, where the downward flowing slope pulls away from the steeper ice and firm snow that adheres to the flank of a ridge or rock face.
The Headwall is strung with fixed lines, ropes that are attached to the ice by anchors at semi-regular intervals. Each climber attached an ascender to the fixed rope, tethered to his or her harness by a length of cord or webbing. This, in addition to their climbing ropes, provides added security against a slip on the steep terrain. Moving together, they had multiple points of attachment to the fixed lines at any given time.
The Headwall tops out at about 16,200′ and the team climbed a bit higher to place a cache of gear and supplies at a flat bit of the ridge, located about 200′ higher. After a brief break to breathe in the very thin air of 16,200′, they descended back to Camp 3 for the night. The weather forecast is for a significant storm to arrive, so the team has prepared their camp and their collective psyche for what could be many days of waiting for the storm to clear.