May 6 Team Calls from 14,200′

Robert Lentz called in a very nice and detailed update from the team’s Camp 3, located in a broad basin at 14,200′ on Denali.  Today, the team dropped back down to retrive the cache of supplies they had buried near Windy Corner (the sun/shadow ridge at the bottom center of the image below) two days ago.

The descent to the cache site is pretty quick, and they were digging up their kit within a half hour of departing camp.  The hike back up to camp took them a bit over an hour, so today was essentially an active rest day, which was well-deserved after the big, tough move up to “14 Camp” yesterday.

Denali route map

The route from the broad basin of 14,200′ to the upper mountain.

In the afternoon, the team reviewed skills that they will employ tomorrow, when they carry a load of supplies up onto the ridge that leads to High Camp.  They will ascend the steepest section of the West Buttress route, the infamous “Headwall.”  This 200 meter section climbs ice and firm snow to about 50 degrees, and the climbers will clip into ropes that are affixed to the slope, as part of their security in the event of a slip.  Today’s review of skills included “fixed line” practice, in which the climbers practiced efficient use of their mechanical ascenders, which are sort of one way rope clamps that slide in one direction up a rope, clamping on and preventing downward movement when weighted.  Affixed to the climbers’ harnesses with webbing or stout cord, these ascenders are very effective in preventing a fall.

Here’s Robert!


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