Final Report – The May 22nd West Buttress Denali Expedition

A beautiful Denali sunset.

The May 22nd West Buttress Denali Expedition team is off the mountain and back in civilization. Here is the final report from their expedition from Lead Guide Karl Welter:

Hi everyone and thanks for following along with us on this Denali expedition. We had a few cloudy days up at High Camp at 17,000 ft, followed by a forecast of windy weather. So after our devoted summit bid on June 6, we made the difficult decision to take a decent weather window to descend the mountain. Along the way, it was still cold and physically demanding on the West Buttress ridge. Bending over to clip carabiners at the ground level is always a challenge, but especially so when the wind is pummeling us.
Luckily the temperature rose as we reached the Fixed Lines. The clients, especially Eva and Annelise, showed much more fluency working their way down the fixed lines than their first time. Near 14 camp, we were definitely gassed and ready for a meal and some rest. Maddie cooked up a soup and many grilled cheese sandwiches for the whole crew, and we enjoyed the relative “warmth” of 15deg F.
In the morning of June 8 we packed up the sleds and backpacks and rolled downhill towards Basecamp. The bad weather was literally chasing us, with a dark cloud of snow near 11 camp and gusty winds harassing the team as we traversed the lower glacier. One gust knocked over several clients who were walking! Arriving at Basecamp in the evening was a dreamy relief, and we gathered in a kitchen tent for Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and a few cheers with beers. There was a bittersweet feeling amongst us as the trip came to a close,  and while we were not quite able to summit, we had everlasting moments of beauty and self-realization on the Great One. And all of our fingers and toes intact.
Talkeetna Air Taxi swooped in and loaded our piles of gear right on time, 9am, the next morning. They are great folks! The transition from big mountaineering boots to flipflops is a welcome switch.
Cheers for following along, and enjoy your own next adventures, everyone!
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