The crew called in from 7,800′ on the vast Kahiltna Glacier today. They flew into Base Camp on the 19th of May, organized their kit into separate loads and made the numerous last-minute tweaks to gear in preparation for heading up glacier to climb Denali!
Well, in truth, they started their hike today by moving down glacier… Base Camp is located on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, a tributary of the mile wide and 40 mile long Kahiltna. If you look at glaciers as essentially frozen rivers (not exactly, but bear with me!), the SE Fork is a stream, flowing into the main river. Just as water doesn’t flow uphill, glaciers descend to lower elevations. The crew dropped about 600 feet to join the Kahiltna. They regained that amount of elevation and another 600′ as they hiked about four miles up the Kahiltna to camp.
Camp is on a compact section of glacier at the bottom of an 1800′ hill. The ice at the bottom of the drop is compacted and is less prone to having crevasses than other sections of the Kahiltna. Crevasses are fractures in the surface of the glacier that form when the elasticity of the ice is overcome and it cracks. In Alaska, the crevasses can be much bigger than in many other glaciated parts of the world. Our climbers are traveling along the glacier roped together so as to provide security in the event that someone pokes into a crevasse.
Today’s move to their Camp 1 is a long, grueling day, but the team did great. One gauge is the level of humor you hear in their called in dispatches. By that assessment, they are going really well!
Here’s the team: