Sunday, July 7, 2013

AC Denali Post 21: White out conditions but still moving

Hey it's Judy jumping in again to say Anders just called to say they successfully back-carried today, descending to pick up their cached gear at 13,200 and then carried it back to Advance Base Camp (ABC) at 14,200.  He sounded good and said he's acclimating well to the altitude.  His oxygen saturation has remained in the 90's, so he's feeling like so far he's adapting well to the thinner air.

After their long, exhausting day yesterday, the team woke today to yet another snow storm, this time with "white out conditions".  They had breakfast, and waited for the other RMI group (who had summited a few days ago) to get down to ABC from their camp at 17,000.  They visited with the team and helped them a bit with their gear, then set off around 1:30pm.  The round trip took about 3 hours, and, although challenging at that altitude, it was not nearly as strenuous as hauling the bulky sleds up yesterday.  They had limited visibility, which sounds formidable to me, but evidently the wind wasn't too bad, so they could see enough to get the job done.

The main thing I take away from these conversations with Anders is how physically demanding this expedition is.  Anders has climbed Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and many other mountains, but I don't recall his ever talking about how physically tough each climb day is.  He said when they were stuck at 11,000 ft for all those days, he had sort of accepted that they might have to turn around and go back.  Now that they've put in a lot more hard climbing days, he really hopes to get a chance to summit.  Only time will tell if the storms will let up enough to give them the opportunity.  As Randy described in a prior post, they still have some major work ahead of them.  They have to climb the formidable Headwall to cache at 16K, descend back to ABC to sleep, climb the Headwall again to High Camp at 17, then go back to 16K to get their stuff.  If the weather permits all that to happen, and they all remain healthy and strong, they will then be in position to attempt a summit.  Meanwhile, the forecast still shows snow and more snow for the foreseeable future, so they just have to take it day by day.

If I am reading this crazy forecast correctly, which I'll copy here if anyone is interested, it appears they may get 40+ inches of snow tomorrow AND Tuesday.  I don't mean 40 inches in total, that's 40 inches each day.  That's very hard to comprehend, and even harder to imagine how they would move in those conditions.

Here is a view of the weather ahead at 14k.  You can click on it to read it more easily:

1 comment:

michael stricklin said...

keep on keeping on! tenacity has its rewards up high...I hope Anders keeps the smile on his face as he trudges thru the clouds