June 28 Expedition Wrap Up

Hi everyone! Thanks for tuning into our blog and following the teams progress up and down the “big one”.   We are all currently back in Anchorage enjoying our belly’s being full of delicious steaks and beer.   To back track a little bit…after waiting out five days of high winds and accumulations of snow up to 3 feet at 14,000′ camp we attempted to make our move up to the high camp at 17,000′.  High winds and more snow forced our safe retreat back down the ridge and back to our home away from home at 14,000′.  There we awoke to another 2 feet of snow after a wet, cold restless night.   After a day of fueling up on food and drink, we began our descent at 10:30 pm heading for base camp back on the South Fork of the Kahiltna.  We were greeted with periods of high winds and more snow, but parts of the evening were pretty spectacular.  The weather wasn’t getting any better as we approached our old camp and cache at 11,000′ so we once again dug in and set up camp where we slept through the wind and snow.  The next day was filled with rest, laughter and refueling our bodies.  Again, we left in the evening to march through the night so we would hit the lower glacier in time for it to freeze and provide us with safe traveling across it.  Our walk was as if we were in the middle of a ping pong ball, but was also quite serene and beautiful in the misty evening.

Alas, after traveling for twelve hours, navigating through the ever present crevasse fields on the Main Fork of the Kahiltna, and breaking trail through wet spring snow, we found ourselves back at base camp.  Moral was high and everyone was proud of themselves for accomplishing such a big task as attempting to climb Mt. McKinley.  High fives and smiles went around the glacier.  We stomped out the runway and awaited the fixed wings to come pick us up.   Our last few days on the mountain were truly a wilderness experience as we were the last of the few climbers to be on the mountain for the season, even the rangers had packed up camp and headed home.

Congratulations to all of you on this expedition as your determination and hard work drove you toward the top of the mountain and allowed you to come home safe and unharmed.  I hope it was an experience you will never forget….KG

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