May 24 Ski Team Cached at Camp 3

Lead guide Jed Porter updates us today. The team is moving quick up the mountain! Usually teams set a cache between camps. Going half way up to the next camp, digging in their cache, and descending. The following day the move up to the next camp. And the day after that they will descend halfway to the last camp to retrieve their cache. But this strong team is setting their caches at the next camp, so they don’t have to descend later to retrieve them! This makes for bigger days caching, but the team is still climbing high and sleeping low, which is good for acclimatization. Otherwise, since the team is moving a bit quicker, their acclimatization schedule is a bit shortened, but it sounds like the team is handling that really well and doing great! Boy, it’s nice to move around on skis rather than snowshoes!

So the team cached at Camp 3 at 14,200′ (4328m) yesterday, and today they are taking their time to make the move up to Camp 3. This is where the route starts to get more interesting! The team will first ascend Motorcycle Hill, about a mile of ascent and 800′ (243m) of elevation gain. Once topping out on Motorcycle Hill, the team next climbs up Squirrel Hill (no, to our knowledge there has never been a squirrel at 13,000′ on Denali!) 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 gently upscoping 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 passes the cache site, descends a bit, and climbs one last short hill up into Camp 3.

A 2021 team rounding Windy Corner, the West Buttress rises above them on the right side of this photo.

Here’s Jed:


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