Mountain Trip lead guide Adam Smith called in for the May 19 West Buttress team, who are currently camped out at 11,200′ on Denali.
Adam and two climbers (Aparna and Linda) put in a tough day hiking back down to retrieve their cache at around 10,500′ in whiteout conditions, breaking trail through deep snow while carrying double-loads of supplies.
The other two members of the trip made the decision to turn back from the route (not due to health or injury, just personal decision), and have returned back to base camp with assistant guide Ryan Gould. The climbers who descended will fly out to Talkeetna when the weather allows, and the guide who accompanied them will head back up the mountain with one of the Mountain Trip West Buttress teams that is due to arrive within the next few days.
Tomorrow, Adam, Aparna and Linda plan to trek up a nearby steep slope to get some additional practice with their “sharps,” or the mountaineering tools that will be essential on the upper mountain, including crampons and ice axes. The team is hoping to move up to 14-Camp, but will likely not choose to do so until the storm gives way to clear weather more suitable for climbing.
While it appears the snow will taper off by this Saturday, the winds are forecasted to steadily increase. To watch the weather on the mountain, click here.
Here’s Adam with the update, with a shout out to friends and family: