Marcin Wlodarczyk called in on behalf of our May 18 West Buttress team. The team was treated to an extended stay in the small, end of the road town of Talkeetna, due to pretty foul weather for four days. Rain in Talkeetna and at Base Camp made it impossible for our friends at Talkeetna Air Taxi to fly until Sunday evening.
A brief clearing on Sunday brought “The Call” from TAT, and a mad dash to load the planes with gear, supplies and climbers. In the scramble, there was a bit of a mix-up with the TAT manifest, which resulted in Lead Guide Caitlin Hague being moved at the veritable last minute to another plane, which launched a few minutes after the rest of our team. Those few minutes proved critical, as her plane missed the brief window of clearing weather, and turned back to Talkeetna.
This is the first time in my memory that most of the team made it to the glacier, but our Lead Guide did not! Fortunately, our two other guides, Nick Aiello and Kristin Arnold, were more than ready to make all of the necessary preparations, so that when Caitlin flew to Base Camp yesterday morning, she stepped off the plane, clipped into a climbing rope and they took off down the glacier toward Camp 1! Wow..! That was a bit of a nail biter…
Finding the silver lining in the storm, the inclement weather and it’s associated cold temperatures, allowed the team to travel in the middle of the day, rather than have to travel at night, as has been the case for most teams this season.
They hiked about five miles up the vast Kahiltna Glacier to a flat area below the first big hill of the route. The bottom of the hill compresses the glacier, making it much less prone to having crevasses, which makes it a good place to camp. Located at about 7,800′, they are only 600′ higher than Base Camp, but they are in position and ready to keep pushing upwards!
Here is Marcin, in both English and his native Polish: