May 26th West Buttress Denali Expedition – Flies into Basecamp and Moves to Camp 1!

The May 26th West Buttress Denali Expedition is on their way! After flying in to Basecamp, the team packed up their sleds and trekked the 5 miles across the lower Kahiltna Glacier to make it to Camp 1.

The May 26th West Buttress Team.

The challenge comes quickly on Denali as the first thing the climbers encounter along their route to Camp 1 is the long sloping downhill of Heartbreak Hill, which takes you down the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, where Basecamp is located, to the main arm of the Kahiltna Glacier.

Why is it called Heartbreak Hill, you ask? Well, since the West Buttress Route is an “out and back” route, everything you go down, you must later go back up. And at the very end of the expedition, after the long descent from the upper mountain, the never-ending gradual uphill climb of Heartbreak Hill is the last obstacle standing between your tired expedition team and the hot showers and cold beer of Talkeetna!

Heartbreak Hill’s gentle downslope can also convince climbers that “Hey, this sled isn’t that heavy!”, which eventually leads to heartbreak when they hit the flat stretches of the main Kahiltna and finally feel the full pull of 100lbs of food and gear on their backpack straps.

denali kahiltna glacier

A Denali team trekking across the lower Kahiltna Glacier.

Nice work on making your first big move of the trip, May 26th Team! 

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