Mountain Trip guide Slator Aplin called in from Camp One at 7,800′ with an update on the May 11 Denali West Buttress team! While he called in at around 9 p.m., the sun in Alaska is nowhere near setting this time of year, and they were likely in nearly full light. The infamous Alaskan ‘midnight sun’ will continue to grow stronger until the summer solstice in mid-June.
The team made it to Camp One from Base Camp in six hours–very fast considering that they were carrying all of their gear for up to 23 days on the mountain, the heaviest loads that they will carry between pack and sled throughout the entirety of the expedition.
The weather has improved in the days since the May 11 team flew on to the glacier; They began their trek up the Kahiltna Glacier with clear skies, which fluctuated throughout the day between scattered snow flurries, full cloud cover and blue skies. Today (5/15), if the weather cooperates, the team plans to carry a cache of gear up to around 10,500′, just below Kahiltna Pass. There, they will bury gear, food and supplies that they will not need until they tackle the upper mountain. They will “back carry” to retrieve this cache once they reach Camp Two at 11,200′. Expedition-style ascent, back-carrying and caching, allows the team to travel between camps without the weight of all of their gear and also provides good opportunity to acclimate as they move higher.