Mountain Trip guide Josh Garner called in the first audio update from the glacier after the June 17 West Buttress team reached Base Camp at 7,200′ on the route. They will likely review glacier travel and risk mitigation, set up camp, and get a few hours of rest before setting out for Camp One.
At this point in the season, teams normally travel across the lower glacier only on a night schedule, when the snow bridges are the most frozen and least likely to collapse. During the heat of the day, they may melt beneath while still looking passable from above to the unsuspecting climber. The team will travel roped together for safety, and will take between 4 and 6 hours to reach Camp One (potentially longer if there is fresh snow on the route). There has been a high number of crevasse incidents on the Kahiltna this year, and the team will mitigate that risk as best they can.
The climbers will be carrying the most weight of the entire expedition for their move to Camp One, the bulk of their supplies for the next 21 days. Denali is infamous for its extremely heavy packs; for the first move day to Camp One, climbers often carry upwards of 80 pounds on their back and between 30 and 40 pounds pulled behind in carefully rigged sleds.
(Our apologies to guide Kakiko Ramos-Leon, as we mentioned the wrong guide on our “Meet the Team” post. We hope you’ll forgive us, Kakiko!)
Best of luck to the team as they begin their journey up the West Buttress Route!