Lead guide for our June 19 team, Constantine Severis called in after the team took a rest and acclimatization day at High Camp. Moving up to this camp at 17,200′ is a very hard day of work and it is generally prudent to take a day to rest, hydrate and allow your body to further acclimatize before attempting the summit.
The team still has time left in their schedule and they are being disciplined in setting themselves up for their summit bid. Today sounded like a beautiful day up high, a rare thing this climbing season.
The plan is to awaken fairly early, eat breakfast, hydrate with multiple hot drinks and then pack up for the day’s effort. The trail out of camp actually drops down a bit before crossing the accumulation zone of the Upper Peters Glacier to access a long, rising traverse that gains over 1000′ as it climbs to Denali Pass, the low point between the south and north summits of Denali. This traverse is known as the Autobahn, in the dark humor of Alaskan climbers, so named for the quickness of descent, should an unwary climber take a tumble.
Above Denali Pass, the route contours across a small bowl and skirts the side of some grey and black rocks by climbing a somewhat steep, yet short slope. A series of undulations that rise more than they ever fall take climbers up and left toward a low ridge line that needs be climbed via a short, steep slope. After dropping over Archdeacon’s Ridge, the climbers will find themselves at the edge of a broad, flat expanse known as the Football Field.
After hiking across the seemingly never ending Football Field, they have only a 500′ steep snow to gain the spectacular summit ridge. This ridge can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the team’s strength and the conditions of the snow. It is a true knife edged ridge in spots, with tremendous exposure– 9,000′ of air drops away to the climber’s right side! Towards the end of the ridge, a monstrous cornice guards the final steps to the summit itself. On a clear day, the 360 degree views from the top are truly breathtaking (pun, absolutely intended!).
Here is Con!