Lead Guide Elías de Andres Martos checked in from the team’s 17,200 foot perch below the two summits of Denali. Along with Sue and Peter, the team moved up to High Camp ahead of all other guided teams and so had their choice of camping spots.They arrived early enough to spend much of the day resting, and so are planning to go for the summit as early as tomorrow, June 6th!
They left Camp 3 at 14,200 feet and climbed moderate snow slopes to the base of a steep section of route that is affixed with ropes permanently anchored to the slope. Often called the Headwall, this is the steepest part of the West Buttress route and climbs from about 15,600 feet to the crest of a stunning ridge at 16,200 feet. Climbers clip themselves into the “fixed lines” with mechanical “ascenders,” which clamp onto the ropes when weighted, and are tethered to each climber’s harness. This system provides protection in the steep terrain in case anyone slips.
Atop the fixed lines, they then continued up the crest of a beautiful ridge that climbs another thousand feet to High Camp. Weaving around rocks, and occasionally climbing more steep snow, this is one of the most enjoyable sections of the West Buttress route, and they were treated to amazing views and huge exposure dropping thousands of feet off the ridge line!
Here’s hoping for a nice day tomorrow!