The Brazil crew took some time to work on technical skills that they will need to be proficient at as they move higher up the mountain. One of these skills is using an ascender. An ascender is a progress capture device. An ascender is used on a fixed line. In this scenario, the fixed line is rope that is 600′ long and is anchored using ice and snow anchors at the top as well as every several meters for the length of the rope. There is one rope for ascending, and one rope for descending for all teams that choose to navigate the Headwall to access the 16 Ridge (the ridge at 16,200′ 4937m). Climbers will have their ascender tied securely to the belay loop on their harness. Attaching this device to the rope, it will slide up the rope, but if they suddenly pull down the teeth of the ascender will bite into the rope and will not allow descent unless manually manipulated, preventing unplanned falls. Climbers have to practice using this with big gloves and also practice moving their ascender past each anchor as they climb. These are not easy skills, especially in big puffy layers! Which is why all of our teams take time to practice them at Camp 3.
They will also run through using running protection or a running belay. Running protection is the use of snow pickets as anchors for the rope team. An aluminum snow picket of at least 2 feet in length will be hammered perpendicularly into the snow. A sling is girth hitched to the picket, the team will run their rope through a carabiner that is clipped to this sling. Each climber must pass their knot through this carabiner at each picket, which requires some technique and practice. These pickets are used on steep terrain to add protection for rope teams and assist in preventing a fall.
A 2021 team on the slopes above Camp 3
Here’s Kyle, with a shoutout to Emma!