May 11 Denali Expedition Moves To Camp 1

Birthday boy Craig Lenning called in today’s post from a camp with a view! Early this morning, the team packed up camp at Base Camp, tied themselves and their heavily laden sleds to their climbing ropes and took a hike downhill towards Camp 1.

Nope, that wasn’t a typo…! Base Camp is located on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, which is a tributary of the main, 40-mile long Kahiltna Glacier. If you think of a glacier as essentially a frozen river, the SE Fork is a creek, flowing downhill into the main flow. Base Camp sits about 600 feet above the Kahiltna, so the first 20-30 minutes of climbing out of BC is actually descending. However, at the very end of their expedition, each climber will need to ascend those 600 feet. Climbers who didn’t have a chance to stand atop Denali named this feature, “Heartbreak Hill.”

The Kahiltna is in great shape right now, with most of the innumerable crevasses covered in a deep blanket of snow. There was one big open one at the base of Heartbreak Hill, but it had a thick snow bridge across it, making for easy passage. Not far past this gaping maw, the team turned north and ascended mellow glacial slopes for about four miles to reach an elevation of 7,800 feet, where they established their Camp 1.

Here’s Craig!


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