Our May 11 Denali West Buttress team called in from the basin camp at 11,200 feet (3413 m) after the team pushed through some strong, cold wind to put in a cache of supplies on the far side of the notorious Windy Corner. That name was well-deserved today!
They set out in the morning, carrying heavy packs and hauling a few sleds up Motorcycle Hill, a 300 meter ascent that starts immediately out of camp. Topping the hill, they encountered fierce winds coming from the east, blowing snow and making their progress even more challenging. Everyone was doing well, so they kept pushing forward, up another series of slopes known as Squirrel Hill and across a gradually sloping stretch of glacier commonly known as The Polo Fields.
After a few hours of tough travel, they dug into their reserves and pushed around Windy Corner, a rocky ridge that drops sharply down from the West Buttress. On the far side of Windy Corner, they dug a deep pit in the snow and dropped their cache of supplies before turning back and hustling down to Camp 2 for the evening.
The team is doing great and spirits are high. They seemed to enjoy the added challenge of today’s conditions! In general, climbing teams will often push a bit harder in tough weather to put in a cache than they might when committing to move camp farther up the mountain. Today was a bitterly cold day, but they worked hard and got the job done- well executed, team!