Mountain Trip guide Robert “Durny” Durnell called in with an update on the June 16 Denali West Buttress team, who flew into Base Camp early yesterday afternoon.
The team had planned to travel on a night schedule, departing camp at midnight to avoid the midday head and melting conditions on the glacier for their trip across the lower Kahiltna to Camp 1 at 7,800′. However, the team was met with rain, snow and whiteout conditions, and made the decision to stay in Base Camp for another night.
Today, they will be practicing their crevasse rescue and glacier travel skills to prepare them for the journey across the lower glacier. The team will be descending, hopefully from the summit of Denali, in early July. Later in the summer, conditions on the glacier tend to change significantly, with crevasse fall being a greater hazard than other times in the season.
It also takes quite a bit of work to get packs and sleds rigged up to travel with the tremendous amount of food and supplies that the climbers will be carrying at the beginning of their expedition. Practice surely helps you get used to pulling a 50 pound sled, and a 70 pound pack on your back. You almost have to relearn how to walk, incorporating special techniques like the mountaineer’s “rest step” to make it a little less strenuous on your muscles and joints while walking for hours.
Here’s Durny with the short update: