May 20 Final Blog Post: Joe Butler reporting
The team decided to descend from 14K camp on June 6. With our food supplies dwindling and a very rough weather forecast pending, the team decided to leave for lower elevations and try to outrun the incoming storm and get a flight out of the range. Easier said then done! We left 14K camp around 9:30 pm June 6 and experienced very windy conditions around Windy Corner and it continued down through the Polo Field and down Motorcycle Hill. At 11k camp we experienced very low visibility, large amounts of snow, and a potential headwind on the Kahiltna Glacier. The guide team decided to strike camp for the night and see if the weather would improve the next day. We left camp around 12pm June 7 and descended through deep snow and marginal conditions. As we continued our descent we finally broke through the weather layer around Ski hill. From there the weather was good enough for flights to arrive at Denali BC. We hustled into BC where Talkeetna Air Taxi had planes waiting to get us back to Talkeetna. Spread over three different planes, the team all made it safely back to town.
Although the weather stopped us from advancing up the mountain and attempting a summit bid I am very proud of this team. These guys are all very fun individuals who love the mountains. It was a pleasure to share this expedition with all of them. Had the weather cooperated I am sure all of these guys would have stood on the summit. Sometimes the best skill a mountaineer can possess is the ability to stay positive during adverse conditions and accept that sometimes the house wins. Since we made the tough calls, all of the climbers returned home in good health and can prepare for another battle against one of the great mountains of the world. I wish you all the best in the future and I really hope everyone on this team gives the mountain another go. Until next time…train hard and get outside!!