May 11 Team – Melle Calls From 14,200′

Melle Van Den Boorn called in from the broad Genet Basin at 14,200 feet (4328 m) with an update that was cut short by the poor satellite phone connection.  The team spent part of the day practicing the skills they will need to use on the fixed lines that lead up to the ridge running from 16,200′ (4938 m) to High Camp.  The fixed lines are ropes that are anchored into the steep ice surface at semi-regular intervals.  Climbers attach an ascender (a one-directional rope clamp) to the ropes for added security against a slip.

The fixed lines run over 600′ (182 m) up to the crest of the ridge.  It is the steepest part of the West Buttress route, some years reaching 45-50 degrees.  Above the fixed lines, the ridge is very narrow at points, and the climbers proceed using a technique called “running belays,” in which they clip the climbing rope through anchors that the guides place in the snow, or among the rocks on the ridge.

The plan is to head up the fixed lines tomorrow (Monday) and make a cache of supplies at an elevation of about 16,400 feet (5000 m).

Here’s Melle!

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