Mountain Trip guide Brian Kramp called in from 14,200′ today. The team had a pretty easy day today, dropping down about 800′ to retrieve the supplies that they had cached on the uphill side of Windy Corner. This makes for an active rest day, in that it only takes about 20 minutes to reach the cache and another hour and change to bring it back to camp.
They spent some of the afternoon reviewing the skills necessary to ascend the fixed lines that protect the Headwall, which rises above their camp to an elevation of 16,200′. The guides used their climbing ropes to set up practice fixed lines in camp, and each climber received instruction and practice in how to use their ascender (mechanical rope clamp) to protect themselves when climbing and descending the lines.
On the Headwall, the fixed lines stretch up roughly 600′ of vertical gain. There are two sets of ropes, one for ascending climbers and one for descending climbers. Each set of ropes is anchored into the icy face at semi-regular intervals, and climbers employ ascenders attached to their harness to provide an additional layer of protection as they climb the 35-45 degree slope. Each climber is still roped to a guide for additional security, and the whole process takes roughly and hour to climb, as each anchor must be passed by unclipping and then re-clipping each ascender to the line.
If the weather permits, the team will carry loads up the fixed lines and cache them on the ridge above. This is a tough day, but it is important that each climber be familiar with this stretch before moving up to high camp.