May 29 West Buttress Team — A strenuous and “hot” day caching on Ski Hill

Mountain Trip lead guide Eli Potter called in with an eventful update on the May 29 West Buttress Expedition, who are at Camp One (7,800′).

After a long bought of snow, wind, frigid temperatures and high winds, the sun has finally returned to the Alaska Range. While high pressure and clear weather make for much better climbing conditions, a balmy 32 degrees Fahrenheit can feel more like 90 degrees when walking on a giant, reflective sheet of ice. Ski Hill, a relatively steep pitch directly out of Camp One that leads up to Kahiltna Pass and then on to 11-Camp. Most teams bury their cache at around 10,500′, just 700 vertical feet shy of 11,200′-camp to make retrieving their supplies easier later on in the climb.

Several members of the team had a hard time battling the relative heat, the weight of their gear and the continuous uphill, so the team stopped about 1,000 vertical feet short of the typical cache site. Climber Kristopher Mehrtens made the difficult decision, after the amount of exertion on the cache day, to head back down to Base Camp. Eli wanted to reiterate that Kris is in good health and made the decision to turn around on his own accord.

Guides Jason and Carly will continue up to their next camp at 11,200′ with the rest of the team. Eli will descend to Base Camp today with Kris and an injured climber from another group. He will then make his way back up the glacier with another Mountain Trip team flying in on June 3, until he meets up with the team once again at 11,200′.

Here’s Eli with the update:

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you Eli for your updates. My heart stopped for a minute when you spoke of Carly having a hard day (as everyone did with the heat and heavy loads) but your group pushed on as I knew you would. Sending good thoughts and “white lightening” to reach all of you on the big mountain.~ Safe travels ..
    Claudia Cain~

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