Gary Falk called in from 14,200′ with a post that was unfortunately cut short by the inconsistencies of satellite communication from such northern latitudes.
He and Roger carried a load up the steepest section of the route today, departing camp and hiking up moderate snow slopes to the base of a feature often called The Headwall. The Headwall is about 600′ high and can vary from 40-50 degrees. Along its length, two ropes are affixed at semi-regular intervals to anchors buried deep in the icy surface. Roger and Gary have mechanical ascenders tethered to their harnesses, which they clipped into one of the ropes for security as they climbed up this steep part of the route.
The Headwall tops out at about 16,200′ and most climbers cache just above the top of the fixed lines. roger and Gary opted to climb up the ridge another 400′ to cache below a prominent rock known as Washburn’s Thumb, named after Bradford Washburn the pioneer of the West Buttress route.
Gary shared a bit of the Father’s Day back patting and embracing that occurred at camp today. It is tough to be a father on the mountain on such an occasion. Thoughts of family and children really tug at one’s heartstrings and finding the will to remain motivated to continue upward can be challenging. Unsaid, but certainly part of the missing end of Gary’s post was a warm shout out to his some Anders, whom Gary is thinking about a lot today.
Thanks to all the children and patient spouses who let their climbing parents and partners go off on these adventures!