Paul, Ryan and Shaira called in as the team prepared to load their backpacks and start the long, tough climb up to High Camp! The team has been managing some very challenging weather in recent days, but today conditions have improved and they are moving up the mountain. The first hour or so of climbing will take them up a moderately steep snow slope, after which they will arrive at the bottom of the steepest section of the route.
“The Headwall,” is it is often called, is a 40-45 degree slope that is about 600′ high. The National Park Service and the guide services collaborate to maintain two sets fo “fixed lines” that run its length. The lines enable ascending and descending climbers to clip their ascenders (glorified rope clamps that are attached to their harnesses) to the ropes to provide protection in the event of a slip. This stretch of route is considered fun by some and grueling by others, but it is always attention getting!
Above the Headwall, the team will follow a fun and engaging ridge line that runs another 1000′ up to the site of their 17,200′ High Camp. The climbing on the ridge is some of my favorite on the route, as it weaves in and out of rocky sections, skirts huge rock outcrops and treads along the very crest of knife-edged snow. The exposure is tremendous, with HUGE air on either side of the latter sections!
Here is the team!