Lead Guide Eli Potter called in on behalf of the Gustavo Ziller Seven Summits TV team after they made a summit bid this morning. The forecast looked good and they awoke early, brewed up and hit the trail. The crew made pretty good time up the steep and formidable Autobahn (the 1000′ rising traverse that starts immediately out of High Camp), but the conditions they encountered as the crested Denali Pass were too difficult to allow them to continue.
Denali Pass is the low point between Denali’s South Summit (20,310 ft or 6190 m) and North Summit (19,470 ft or 5,934 m). The team encountered a stiff wind out of the northeast, which was directly in their faces. Taking a rest after the long climb up the Autobahn, the team found themselves being coated in rime ice, the result of moisture in the air instantly freezing on their clothing. They were fast becoming chilled near the point of hypothermia and, faced with the need to push into such conditions for many more hours, they decided that prudence was the best decision, so they turned back and descended out of the fierce wind.
They will reassess their options tomorrow and might give it another go, but it is very hard to make a second bid after being beaten up like they were today. Fingers crossed and warm wishes to the climbers, who are among the last on the mountain at the moment.