Lead Guide Joe Butler called in after the team carried loads of supplies up to a cache site at about 13,500′ (4115 m) this morning. This was a tough day, as the crew broke trail through deep snow up two steep hills that rise immediately out of Camp 2. Motorcycle Hill climbs up a thousand feet right out of camp and leads to the even steeper, but shorter, Squirrel Hill. Above Squirrel Hill is a gently rising section of glacier often referred to as “The Polo Field,” which passes beneath the steep crags and couloirs (snow gullies) of the West Buttress.
The team is doing great, and they made good progress today, carrying heavy loads around a somewhat infamous feature of the route called Windy Corner. This is a steep, rocky ridge that rises sharply from the glacier for thousands of feet. Climbers must pass underneath this feature, often in high winds that can become impassable quite often. This was not the case today, as the team climbed up and out of the clouds that have kept their view to a minimum for a couple of days, and their views of the surrounding peaks of the Alaska Range expanded.
The team dug a pit in the snow at about 13,500′ (4115 m) and buried their cache of gear before turning around to return to Camp 2 for the night. Tomorrow’s plan is to climb up past their cache tomorrow and make their way up to Camp 3 at 14,200′ (4328 m), where they will spend 4-5 days acclimatizing.