Mountain Trip lead guide Ben Adkinson called in an update on the May 21 Denali West Buttress Team, who were able to fly into the Alaska Range yesterday, with beautiful clear weather. From Talkeetna, they enter the range flying over the colorful tundra of the southern reaches of Denali National Park, and into the perimeter mountains, laced with snow. At first, these mountains appear large; then you notice the glaciated giants looming behind them. As they flew farther, immense braided rivers cut deep into rocky glacial moraines, vibrantly-hued minerals stain the rocks multicolored, the last of the coniferous trees begin to dissipate. Soon enough, below them unfolded a landscape of mostly white; large “rivers” of snow-covered glaciers with deep blue crevasses, small electric turquoise tarns, and steep, jagged peaks with snow clinging to them forming spines. And then, they turned a bend and make a somewhat bumpy landing at the temporary, international civilization that is Denali Base Camp.
The team was enjoying some fresh, still-hot pizza and veggies from Talkeetna at Denali Base Camp at 7,200′, while taking in the stunning views of the glaciated ridgeline leading up the flank of Mount Hunter to their south, Foraker to the west, and Denali–The Great One–due north. They will spend today practicing rigging their packs and sleds and discussing proper glacier travel technique.
Tomorrow they will move up to Camp One at 7,800′ on the glacier. While the day doesn’t involve any technical climbing or a lot of vertical they will be carrying the heaviest packs and pulling the most fully-loaded sleds of the expedition.