May 22nd West Buttress Denali Expedition – Cached around Windy Corner!

The international crew of the May 22nd West Buttress Denali Expedition, with Belgian, Polish, Portuguese, and British climbers (via Hong Kong) called in to let us know that they put in a cache around Windy Corner!

Listen here: Audio Recording

The climber who called in gives us a great play-by-play of the terrain this team covered between Camp 2 and their cache site around Windy Corner.

The first ascent team of the West Buttress, led by Bradford Washburn in 1951, got pretty creative with their naming of features on the mountain. It’s due to their creativity that we got the names Ski Hill, Motorcycle Hill, Squirrel Hill, and Windy Corner, to name a few.

Camp 2 at 11,200′ with Motorcycle Hill leading up and out of camp.

Immediately above Camp 2 is the 1,000′-high Motorcycle Hill. Moderately steep snow climbing rewards climbers with spectacular views. There are often crevasses on Motorcycle Hill and beware of avalanche hazard from the slopes to “climber’s right” as you ascend.

Above Motorcycle Hill are a series of slopes that break away to “climber’s left,” collectively known as Squirrel Hill. These are often windswept and can be icy at times. At the top of Squirrel Hill you can encounter some crevasses as the route gently climbs toward the expansive West Buttress towering above you to the north. The route climbs up along the base of the West Buttress along a glacier often called “The Polo Field”. Sloughs and slides run off the buttress and can sweep the trail, so exercise caution as you make your way toward the infamous Windy Corner. This feature is a steep rock rib that drops down to the glacier and around, which can blow winds sweeping in from the immense South Face of Denali.

About to round Windy Corner.

Our teams try to ferry loads around Windy Corner in order set up a cache at the mouth of the basin that leads to Camp 3 at 14,200′. With this cache in place, the May 22nd team is poised to move up to “14-Camp” and begin eyeing the upper mountain! 

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