Andrew Kiddier called in from our May 13th West Buttress team (at least, I think it’s Andrew – if not, please let us know in a comment!). The team moved very well up the moderate slopes above Camp 3, and then climbed up the steepest section of the route, a zone known as the Headwall. This stretch can reach 45-50 degrees and is protected by ropes that are affixed into the icy surface with semi-regular anchors. Climbers use these “fixed lines” buy clipping a rope clamp known as an ascender to them. Ascenders will slide easily in one direction (up!) and clamps down on the fixed rope when loaded.
The team climbed up the fixed lines to gain the ridge at 16,200′. They were feeling great and everyone moved so well that they continued up another 400′ to cache below a prominent rock feature known as Washburn’s Thumb. This is a bit higher than most teams cache, which speaks well of the team’s fitness and preparation!
Here is Andrew!