June 16 West Buttress Team to begin their final descent!

Lead guide Elias called in an update on the June 16 team, who was able to make their way back down to 14,200′ Camp Three after winds eased up slightly at High Camp. The team still endured intense gusts as they made their way down the aesthetic, but exposed 16,000′ while clipping through protection, and as they descended the steep fixed lines back into Camp Three. The team will rest for a few more hours until the evening, and then begin their descent all the way back down to Denali Base Camp at 7,200′, descending over 7,000′ and approximately 13 miles to reach base camp once again, the way illuminated by sunset and sunrise blending together. Teams wait until the evening to complete this long journey by the light of the midnight sun, to ensure that they are winding their way through the large crevasses of the lower glacier when the snowbridges are at their most frozen, and therefore strongest point. The team will make a stop at each camp along the way during their descent to pick up cached items. They will continue downhill most of the way until the final push up the affectionally named Heartbreak Hill, the final long, gradual hill back to the runway on the lower Kahiltna.

We wish the team an efficient final push of their journey. This can be one of the most challenging days of the expedition, as the rigors of altitude and many days of carrying heavy weight begin to take a toll on the body. It also offers some truly incredible views and the chance to travel a large section of the route all at once, a proper goodby to the Alaska Range. Base camp treats, cold beverages and hot showers await! Congratulations once again to the team.

Here’s Elias!


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