Still Hunkered Down at 10,200′

We heard from the team this morning and they are still socked in at Kahiltna Pass.  It is what we call 0/0 visibility, or living inside a ping pong ball, with whiteout in every direction.  Spirits are high, however; and they dined on a chicken and pasta dinner and stuffed themselves with blueberry pancakes, so they’re doing just fine, all in all…

They hope to make a push up and out of the thick of the flow of weather today, but we’ll wait to see what actually happens.  The terrain they need to negotiate is pretty benign, but they need moderate visibility so that they can place their next camp in an appropriate location, as the south end of the broad, non-descript basin of the traditional 11,200′ (3413m) camp is threatened by some monster ice cliffs on the ridge above.  Prudence is definitely the better form of valor in this case.

The team is about to move off the main flow of the huge Kahiltna Glacier an onto what would be called the North Fork, if it were actually given a name.  They are hoping to establish themselves in a broad basin at the base of the rocky West Buttress of Denali.  All the travel to this point is essentially the approach to the actual climbing that lies ahead, for  above the basin, the team will don crampons and pull out their ice axes to negotiate the upcoming steeper slopes.  The basin is a stunningly beautiful place, opening to the west and affording views of the western slope of the Alaska Range, which glows pink and orange when the sun passes to the north in the evening.  Hopefully, they’ll take all this in shortly.

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