Josh Cummins called in an update with a very special conclusion to his call – No spoiler alerts here – listen to it!
The team was graced with a bluebird sky day and they rallied to take advantage of it. They shouldered their packs with food and supplies that they won’t need for a few days and carried their heavy loads up a moderately steep, 1000′ hill to the northwest of camp known as Motorcycle Hill. This is the point when it feels like you’ve left the approach to the mountain and are actually climbing it. They strapped crampons to their boots and wielding their ice axes, climbed slowly out of camp.
Atop Motorcycle Hill they then navigated a series of equally steep, but icier slopes collectively known as Squirrel Hill. These slopes trend down and to the climbers’ left, ending abruptly at the edge of a precipice thousands of feet above the Peters Glacier. Huge walls of granite, laced with ribbons of snow and ice soar up from the Peters and continue thousands of feet above the climbers to form the West Buttress and across the Peters Glacier, the Father and Sons Wall, leading up to the rarely climbed Northwest Buttress of Denali.
Squirrel Hill leads to a long, not-quite-flat bit of glacier flanked to the left by the West Buttress that is known by climbers as the Polo Fields. A long, gradual traverse along the left hand side of the glacier led the team to A steep rib of granitic rock that sweeps down from the West Buttress. They made a hard right turn around this feature, the infamous Windy Corner. Today, however, it wasn’t windy, and the team was able to skirt around it to dig their cache site at an elevation of about 13,500′. Depositing their loads deep under the snow, they dropped back down into the beautiful basin to their camp at 11,000′.
This was a big, tough day, but the team did well, making the round trip in about eight hours. Well done everyone!