This will be our 46th consecutive season guiding on Denali, and we’re honored to welcome the May 17 team and all of the other climbers that have trusted us to help them test their fortitude on the highest mountain in North America. The May 17 Denali West Buttress team have made their arrival at Denali Base Camp after a beautiful, clear flight in after a few days of weather in Talkeetna!
At 20,310 feet (6190 m), Denali rises a full 18,000 feet 5486 m) above its surrounding landscape. It has the highest vertical rise of any mountain on earth, and due to its location so close to the Arctic Circle, conditions can often be very winter-like well into the summer months. Around the solstice, the Alaska Range experiences over 20 hours of daylight, and even in the depths of night the sun never truly sets. The West Buttress, the route the team will be taking, will lead them through heavily glaciated terrain from their current location at base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200′, to Camp One at 7,800′, Camp Three at 11,200′, Camp Four at 14,200′, High Camp at 17,200′, to–conditions permitting–the 20,310′ summit.
Let’s meet the climbers!
Peter Lethbridge, of New Zealand.
Jason Swan, from Australia.
Sonia Taylor, also coming from Australia.
Mallori Sheets, joining us from California, USA.
Erik Bracht, of Washington (state), USA.
Please keep in mind the adage of “no news is good news” in terms of the updates from the team in the field. There are some days when circumstances, like poor satellite phone reception (this happens frequently at Camp 2 at 11,200′, as it is situated in a high-alpine basin with massive peaks on all sides), fatigue from a particularly long day, no change in their situation due to weather, etc., will prevent teams from calling in an update. Friends and family are encouraged to leave comments for their loved ones on this expedition, but keep in mind that they will not be able to see posts or comments until they return to Talkeetna after the end of their expedition, once they leave the glacier.
Best of luck to the climbers, who will make the heavy move up to Camp One today, Sunday May 19. While they wont see much elevation gain on the journey, it will be heavy and difficult as they will be carrying all of their supplies for the entire 22-day expedition–likely the heaviest packs of their lives to date.
Here’s Aaron with the quick update from Base Camp: