June 20th Denali Team Caches at 10,000 feet

Andrew Alexander King reported in from our June 20th West Buttress team’s Camp 1 on the Kahiltna Glacier. It’s hard to tell if they are having any fun at all – NOT! Through the chuckles and laughter, he was able to share a very nice update that the team put in their first cache of supplies as they work their way towards Denali.

The day commenced with a long climb up a moderate, but seemingly never-ending slope known as Ski Hill. The feature is actually a series of hills on the glacier, laced with crevasses that climbs from 7,800′ to about 9,600′ before the glacier mellows and returns to it’s gradual ascent (more appropriately a descent, as glaciers are akin to frozen rivers, flowing downhill).

The goal of the day was to pack up roughly half of their supplies and carry it up to around 10,000′ where they dug a deep pit in the snow and buried their loads. This is called making a cache or “caching.” After marking its location clearly with bamboo wands and noting it on GPS, they turned around and descended back to their camp for the evening. Expeditions often use this process of “carrying high and sleeping low” to both ferry the mountain of supplies needed for three weeks up the peak, but also to ease the climbers’ bodies into the thinner air of higher elevations to build their bases of acclimatization. At night, your respiration rate decreases, leaving you somewhat more susceptible to altitude sickness. By giving their bodies a taste of a higher elevation before committing to it by moving camp, climbers can ease their way uphill more readily.

It sounds like they had an absolutely beautiful day today. Here’s Andrew!


west buttress route photo

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