May 12th West Buttress Denali Expedition – Cached at 10,200

The May 12th West Buttress Denali Expedition has been chugging right along right on schedule the past few days! 

Lead Guide Harrison called in to report that they have installed a cache at 10,200′ and hope to move the team up to Camp 2 tomorrow. Click the link below to hear from Harrison!

Audio Recording

A team ascending Ski Hill, with Camp 1 in the background, on their way to cache a load at 10,200.

The May 12th team made their first “carry and cache” of the trip, hauling sled loads full of food and equipment up towards Kahiltna Pass, about halfway between Camp 1 and Camp 2, in order to “cache” it in the snow. This “carry and cache” method of ascent is very common on Denali because it serves two strategic functions to improve the expedition’s success.

First, it allows the expedition to minimize the amount of weight that they have to carry in their sleds and backpacks as they ascend the mountain (carrying 22 days worth of food and gear all at once is too heavy and exhausting). Second, having the expedition team take multiple trips up and down the mountain between camps can help expedition members better acclimatize by climbing incrementally higher in elevation but sleeping at a lower elevation for multiple nights.

The old mountaineering adage of “climb high and sleep low” perfectly describes this approach to acclimatization, and by getting a little bit of exercise today and then sleeping again at Camp 1, the May 12th West Buttress Denali Expedition is setting itself up for success on the upper mountain.

Nice work, team! Let’s all hope that they have good weather that will allow them to move up to Camp 2 tomorrow! 

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