It was a big day for the team, the first day of climbing on the upper mountain (above 14 Camp).
The terrain immediately above the big 14 Camp starts out pretty mellow, but the slope increases as the climbers ascend. After about an hour of hiking, the snow starts to get quite steep, culminating with a headwall that can reach 45 degrees.
This steepest section is about 600′ high, and it protected by two lengths of rope, each affixed to the surface of the slope with deeply buried anchors at semi-regular intervals. These are referred to as the fixed lines, and one is for ascending climbers and the other used by those on their descent. Climbers clip into one of the lines with a mechanical rope clamp known as an ascender, which will slide in one direction, clamping down and holding the climber to the fixed line when weighted in the other direction (down!).
This is an arduous stretch of the route, but leads to some of the most spectacular climbing of the entire West Buttress, the ridge that leads to High Camp! This rock and snow ridge has some big exposure with steep drop offs and makes for really fun climbing. The team climbed about 200′ of the ridge before burying a cache at about 16,400′.
Happy Birthday to Kyle!!