June 2nd West Buttress Denali Expedition – Cached on 16-Ridge

Lead Guide Kyle called in from the June 2nd West Buttress Denali Expedition to report that they successfully navigated the fixed lines up the Headwall to install a cache on the 16,000′ ridge between Camp 3 and High Camp! 

Here’s Kyle: Audio Recording

14 Camp with the fixed lines up the Headwall in the background.

The Headwall comprises the final 800′ of the climb leading from Camp 3 up to the 16,000′ Ridge (aka “16-Ridge”). This slope presents a formidable and technical challenge for climbers ascending the West Buttress Route, because it’s the steepest terrain that the team has encountered yet on their journey (exceeding 50 degrees in slope angle) and it requires a new technical skill for most climbers: fixed line ascension.

Our Mountain Trip teams spend ample time at Camp 3 practicing the skills needed to ascend the fixed lines before they embark up the Headwall. All of our climbers become competent with their “jumar”, a rope ascending device that clamps onto the rope, and the movement required to ascend the fixed ropes (step, step, slide).

The jumar, seen at the bottom of the photo, allows climbers to ascend the fixed lines up the final Headwall.

Since the slope of the Headwall is so steep here, the National Park Service and guide services like Mountain Trip fix and maintain these ropes to allow for safer and easier travel from Camp 3 to the upper mountain. Many teams will carry a light backpack full of food to cache on the 16-Ridge during their first time up the fixed lines. This allows climbers to get comfortable with their rope ascension systems and also helps our teams acclimatize by ascending to 16,000′ before descending and sleeping back at 14,200′. Remember, “climbing high and sleeping low” is the best way to acclimatize.

Congratulations to the June 2nd Team for establishing their new high point on the mountain!

Share Button

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.