May 20 Denali Team – At 14K Ready To Move High

Lead Guide Elías de Andres Martos called in on behalf of Susan Mamer and Peter “The Peruvian” Alvarado. The team has made good progress climbing up to their Camp 3 in the broad Genet Basin at 14,200′ on Denali. They made a trip up the steepest section of the West Buttress route, often called the Headwall or the “fixed lines” three days ago and took a rest day yesterday.

The Headwall is a section of route immediately above Camp 3 that rises from 15,600′ to the ridge above at 16,200′ and requires climbers to climb firm snow or ice to 40-45 degrees in steepness. It is protected by “fixed lines,” ropes affixed to anchors buried deep in the snow and ice at semi-regular intervals. Climbers clip into the ropes using ascenders, which clamp onto the rope when weighted, but will slide up it when pushed forward. Tethered to their ascenders, climbers are well protected in the event of a slip on the steep, firm terrain.

They climbed the Headwall to put a cache of supplies in on the ridge in preparation for moving to their High Camp at 17,200′ when the weather permits. Elías mentioned that the day they climbed the Headwall, it was foggy and almost raining when they started up. The clouds parted and it became something of a convection oven on their descent. Strange but true – it can get quite hot at 15,000 feet on Denali at times!

The team is feeling strong and they have lots of time. They are looking at this weekend for a potential break in the windy, snowy weather that has been making life a bit tough for climbers at High Camp. They have plenty of food and fuel, and are in high spirits as they rest and continue to acclimatize, waiting for their window to push high.

Here’s Elías!


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