The West Rib team made it up to the base of the West Rib proper today. They had a long, tough go of it as they made their way up the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, aka “The Valley of Death.” The moniker is earned by the numerous crevasses that riddle the glacier as well as by the objective hazards of various sorts that threaten it from above.
One reason we elected to climb the route alpine style was to only have to walk up this stretch one time, therefore reducing the exposure of the team to shoes hazards. It sounds like they had some tricky route finding and a couple of up close encounters with crevasses, but they made it up to the base of the route in fine style.
The route starts up a steep couloir, or snow gully. It climbs about 1200′ to the ridge line that forms the elegant West Rib. The climbing can reach 55+ degrees in the couloir and is challenging and physically demanding.
Thanks to Jay for the descriptive post!