Thursday, June 27, 2013

AC Denali Post 4: Looks like its game on!

We just received a couple of texts from Anders and it looks like there is a good chance that they'll get a chance to fly-out this morning (local time).  If that's the case, they'll fly 35 miles from Talkeenta at an elevation of 358 feet to the Kahiltna Glacier where base camp is at 7,300 feet.  Once on the ice, they'll spend the day preparing camp (this involves levelling the ice, digging a snow latrine, pitching tents, melting snow, digging a group kitchen and cook tent, etc.)  and getting their gear ready to travel.  They'll work on crevasse safety and rescue techniques and then leave about 3 a.m. (local time) tomorrow, Friday the 28th.

The climb from Base Camp to Camp One at 7790 feet covers 5 miles and they'll be carrying packs with 60 pounds and dragging sleds with another 50.  They'll use snow shoes to traverse across the glacier and will be roped at all times as the Kahiltna Glacier is extensively crevassed.  The start of the climb will test their sled management skills as it involves a descent of 800 feet down "Heartbreak Hill" so named because it's the last obstacle they will face upon their return in 2-3 weeks.  Here is an excerpt from the team's blog last night:

"The climbing team ate a hardy breakfast at The Talkeetna Roadhouse.  We talked climbing and safety as we chewed bacon and swilled coffee.  Our excellent meal prepared us for a giant day of packing and organizing to fly on to Denali.  Longtime legendary NPS climbing ranger Roger Robinson gave our pre-climb briefing at the ranger station, after which we trooped on out to the K2 Aviation hangar to get into the nuts and bolts of getting our gear ready for the mountain.  We worked through some unbelievably hot hours, checking tents, stoves, ropes, pots and clothes.  Massive cumulonimbus clouds formed as the day went along and thunder boomed, but the storm never really hit Talkeetna.
We enjoyed a great dinner together at the popular West Rib Pub and then turned in.  All were intent on resting up from this big and busy day to be ready for a bigger and busier day tomorrow, hopefully one that gets us onto Denali."

Here are a couple of pics from the team's activities yesterday--you can see Anders in all three:

RMI Team 6 (the prior RMI team) was 150 feet below the summit ridge yesterday when they were forced to abandon their day's attempt.  here is an excerpt from their blog post:

"We woke up around 7:30 with clear skies and no winds. We set off towards the summit with all of the crew feeling great. We experienced a little bit of wind and clouds at Denali Pass, but that is pretty normal. The climb was going smoothly and the weather was about as perfect as you can get.  We were about 150 feet below the summit ridge when the clouds came in and blocked out our sun. All of a sudden we heard a crack of thunder and all of the metal around us began to buzz. We hightailed it down to a depression in a feature called the football field where things seemed to be calm. By calm, I mean a whiteout snowstorm came out of nowhere!  We hunkered down and waited to see if things would settle down. When we were certain they would not, we worked our way down the mountain with GPS and some wands that mark the trail. After a fourteen hour climbing day, our whole team is back in camp happy, healthy, and fed having come a few hundred feet short of the summit but without a permanent stutter from electrocution!

Our plan is to rest tomorrow and perhaps give the summit another go in the next few days. We will see."

We'll post again today when (if) we here directly from Anders.....

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