Eric Larson called a few minutes ago to report that he and the West Rib team are all back at camp at 7,800′ after “making a carry” of supplies to a spot near the top of the Kahiltna Glacier at about 10,300′.
The team flew onto the glacier on Sunday, May 14th and moved their camp and supplies about five miles up the Kahiltna to a flat spot at 7,800′. This spot is at the junction of the Kahiltna and the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna, which is the access to the base of the West Rib. The team had considered moving straight up and into the NE Fork, but thin snow conditions this season have made them feel better about acclimatizing on the West Buttress route first, and then descending back to move more quickly and relatively nimbly up the NE Fork. If they were to go straight up, they would need to ferry their loads, resulting in more time in the heavily crevassed region.
I mentioned that they “made a carry” earlier in the post. This means that they packed up roughly half of their total amount of supplies and moved it ahead of their camp. This strategy enables them to both move supplies up the mountain, but also ease their bodies into the higher elevations more slowly. They moved high today, allowing their bodies to get a taste of the new elevation, but will sleep at the lower elevation of their previous camp, which will make for a safer acclimatization process. This is called “climbing high and sleeping low” in climbing lingo.
Everyone is doing great and moving well. Tomorrow they plan to move up to a beautiful camp in a small basin at 11,200′.