May 23rd West Buttress Team – Cached On The Ridge

Thanks Jay Beaudoin for the nice update from Camp 3 on the West Buttress of Denali. The team packed up the food, fuel and extra supplies that they might need at High Camp for their summit bid and carried their loads up and out of their Camp 3.

The day began with a climb up moderate snow slopes immediately out of camp. As they continued to climb, the angle of the slope increased. After about an hour and a half or so, they reached a much steeper slope that is affixed with ropes anchored at semi-regular intervals. The last 600+ feet of their climb was quite steep. Jay mentioned climbing over a bergschrund, which is essentially a crack in the snow surface caused by the deeper, heavier snow below a steep slope or rock face pulls away from shallower, steeper snow or ice above. Bergschrunds and be tricky to cross, but the team had the advantage of fixed ropes to help protect the climbers from a slip.

Above the “schrund,” they continued up steep ice tipping back to 45 degrees. Clipping ascenders (mechanical rope clamps) into the fixed lines for security, they slowly climbed up and up until they reached a dramatic perch atop the narrow ridge that is the West Buttress proper. Not far above that point, they buried their supplies in a cache above 16,200′ before retracing their route back down to Genet Basin and their Camp 3.

They are now in position to climb back up to the ridge and another 1000′ to establish their High Camp at 17,200 feet. The weather forecast looks decent for the next couple of days, but very cold. Hopefully, they will be able to take advantage of light winds to punch their way up to the summit. Fingers crossed!

Here’s JB!


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