Lead Guide Aaron Diamond called in from Camp 1 on the Kahiltna Glacier today. The team packed up all their supplies, gear and camp early in the morning and departed Base Camp. The route starts off with a descent of about 600′, as the tributary Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna feeds down into the main body of the Kahiltna Glacier. Once on the huge Kahiltna, they took a hard right turn and headed north. After a total of about five miles, the team established camp on a flat, compact section of the glacier at an elevation of 7800′.
Glaciers are like frozen rivers. When they are descending a steep section or turning a corner, the surface of the glacier breaks up, but rather than form rapids, like a river – the ice forms crevasses, fissures in the surface of the ice. On the Kahiltna, these crevasses can be enormous! It is not uncommon to have a crack that is 30 – 50′ wide and hundreds of feet deep.
When glaciers finish a steep descent, they become compact at the bottom, which is why the team elected to camp at the bottom of a 1000+ foot hill called Ski Hill. Tomorrow, they will tackle Ski Hill, “making a carry,” up to the top of the Kahiltna Glacier at an elevation of about 10,000+/- feet. The plan is to move extra equipment and supplies higher on the route, and then descend back to Camp 1 that evening. Although they will only be carrying roughly half their total kit, leaving all their camping gear and some food and fuel back at Camp 1, their loads will still be whoppers – upwards of 65 – 70 pounds!
Tonight, they are enjoying some hard-earned rest and a big meal!
Here is Aaron:
The route just above the team.