Nick calls in for the team last night. The team enjoyed beautiful weather up to the cache at 13,500′ (4114m). At this point, the team will leave their snowshoes behind and mount their crampons. This is where the West Buttress route starts to get more interesting. Leaving Camp 2 the team first ascends Motorcycle Hill (named after the equally steep hills motorcyclists are known to ascend in competitions). Motorcycle Hill is about a mile ascent and 800′ (243m) of elevation gain. Once topping out on Motorcycle Hill, the team next climbs up Squirrel Hill where they have a great view down climbers left onto the lower Peters Glacier. Cresting Squirrel Hill the team finds themselves on the Polo Field. A somewhat flat expanse of the glacier that must be crossed before ascending the final hill up to Windy Corner.
Here they climb directly underneath the towering rock buttress which is the namesake of the West Buttress. A steep ridge drops down at the buttress’ eastern edge, forming a sort of corner around which climbers must pass to reach the next camp. This corner often accelerates winds, resulting in its moniker of “Windy Corner.” After passing the corner, the team climbed a bit further to a flat spot at about 13,500′ (4115m), where they dug their cache. After depositing their gear and fuel in a deep hole literally chipped from the firmer snow and ice typical of these higher reaches of the mountain, they descended back to camp at 11,200′ (3414m).
The team hopes to be moving to Camp 3 at 14,200′ (4328m) today.
A 2021 team rounding Windy Corner. The West Buttress rises on the right side of this photo, and Mount Foraker (Sultana) looms in the background.