Kim Grant called in to give us all an update on the progress of the team. They loaded up food, fuel and supplies and carried loads up the steepest section of the route today, making a cache on the beautiful ridge line at about 16,400′.
The route out of camp ascends moderately steep snow slopes, which get steeper as you get higher. At about 15,600′, the slope really kicks back and forms a feature known as “The Headwall.” This stretch reaches 45 degrees in spots and can be quite icy at times. The team found fresh snow on The Headwall, making for somewhat easier travel, as they could kick solid steps in the snow. The 600′ length is protected by a series of ropes that are affixed to the slope. Fixed lines such as these can provide security for climbers in a more expeditious manner than if they placed sufficient protection for each of their ropes while they climb.
Climbers clip ascenders (rope clamps) that are attached to their harnesses onto the fixed lines to provide security in the event of a slip. The ascender will clamp onto the rope, preventing the climber from sliding downwards. Ascenders can be a bit tricky to use, but they help make quick work of tricky sections like The Headwall.