Well, the June 19 Team has been very busy since the last report. Here’s a brief recap: on June 20th the team woke early, packed up, and headed north 2.5 hours to the little Alaskan town of Talkeetna. In Talkeetna, the team checked in with the National Park Service and sat through a mandatory climber orientation. Afterwards, the team visited our air services provider, weighed in all of their equipment and supplies, and in the late afternoon flew to Base Camp on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. The next morning they packed up camp and headed up the glacier approximately 5 miles to Camp 1 at 7800′. Yesterday the team continued its progress up the glacier to Camp 2 at 9600′.
The plan is for the team to load up sleds and packs and made the push up to the top of the Kahiltna Glacier this afternoon. Their next camp is located in a beautiful basin situated at about 11,200′. This is, in many ways, the end of the approach, and the transition to the climbing part of the expedition. The terrain steepens, most climbers don crampons and grab their ice axes, and things just get more serious.
11,200′ camp looks off to the west, with stunning views of neighboring peaks that transform as the sun passes to the north of Denali, shifting the quality of light to hues of orange, red and pink. Massive ice cliffs border the southern edge of camp, and the climbers are afforded a nice view of the granite craggy face of the West Buttress proper. In the image below, the trail comes into the frame from the lower right and can be seen ascending to camp, up the snowy ramp of glacier from the lower left.
Looking at the basin camp of 11,200′, with the massive West Buttress looming at top center