Climber Eric Greene called in with an emotional update on the May 15 Denali West Buttress Expedition, who spent 18 days ascending the route (many of those battling cold weather and high winds at 14-Camp).
They had made the physical and technical push from 14,200 up to High Camp at 17,200′, anticipating making a go at the summit. But, another storm system looked to be approaching the Alaska Range, and after being stuck for 8 days at a lower elevation and hearing the winds howling above them at High Camp, the team and guides collectively made the tough decision to head back down to Base Camp and avoid being stuck in a high elevation, advanced camp where the very worst of the weather hits.
While turning back when so close to the summit is undoubtedly a difficult call, sometimes it is the best call for the wellbeing of the team. 18 on a glacier through one of the worst storms the mountain has seen in years can certainly change your perspective.
Although they did not make the summit, we would like to congratulate the team not only on their immense effort and resilience on the mountain, but for their humility in their decision to turn around.
The team will catch a Talkeetna Air Taxi plane back to civilization as soon as the weather on the glacier permits them to safely do so. Many of the team members have flights back home, wherever home may be, in the coming week.
Here’s Eric with the dispatch for the team: