May 10 Denali Team – Moved to Camp 1!

Patrick O’Neill called in from 7,800′ on the Kahiltna Glacier, site of our May 10 West Buttress expedition’s Camp 1. The team packed up all their food, fuel and supplies for the expedition and departed the 7,200′ Base Camp in the early hours of morning to avoid the heat of the sun. It was a hot day of travel once the sun came around nearby Mount Francis and started hitting the main Kahiltna Glacier, and by leaving early, the team was able to travel in the shade for part of their route.

west buttress route

Leaving Base Camp, they dropped about 600′ down in elevation, following the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna to where it joins the main body of the 40 mile long Kahiltna Glacier. They then hiked their heavy packs and full sleds north up the glacier to a spot where the Kahiltna is quite compact and generally free of crevasses to make their camp. They traveled about 5.5 miles in total.

The plan for tomorrow is to carry roughly half their food, fuel and supplies about four miles north up the Kahiltna and bury it in the snow. This is called “caching” or “making a cache.” They will then pack up camp on Saturday, weather permitting, and move camp up to or just past their cache of supplies. That system is called “double carrying,” as they will essentially travel the route twice. It helps make the heavy loads of a 22-day climb more reasonable and it also aids in the acclimatization of the climbers.

Here’s Patrick!


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