Lead guide Adam Smith called in from 17,200′, reporting that the team took today to rest and acclimatize in preparation of a summit bid on Wednesday. The winds above them were strong enough to warrant prudence and the forecast for tomorrow looks very favorable, so they opted for the prudent decision of hanging tight in camp.
Tomorrow, they will awaken fairly early, brew hot drinks and have breakfast in their tents before readying themselves for an attempt at the top. Summit morning is a mixture of excitement. trepidation, self reflection and eagerness. There is a lot to do before tying into a rope and starting the hike out of camp, and in the shade of morning, it can be quite chilly while the team readies themselves. Our guides are trained to temper all of the above by taking some “pause points” at which time they double check the status of summit day preparations.
After departing camp, they will ascend a fairly steep, rising traverse for 2+ hours until they reach a location known as Denali Pass, where they can reasonably take a break without having to cut platforms in the steep snow. Denali Pass is the low point between the north and south summits of the mountain and is infamous for funneling hurricane force winds through its gap. Tomorrow looks like a good day, but on a big, cold mountain like Denali, things can change quickly.
Above Denali Pass, the route climbs steeply for a couple of short sections and then follows rather rolling terrain to a short ridge that runs off a feature called Archdeacon’s Tower. Hopping over the ridge (well, actually – it’s more like laboriously taking one step at a time to slowly climb up and over, due to the thin air!), the team will drop down onto a broad expanse known as the Football Field. On the far side of the Football Field, they will take a good break and prep for the final 800′ of their climb to the summit.
A moderately steep hill leads up to a stunning knife edged ridge line. climbing along the crest of the ridge is one of life’s truly amazing experiences. As you put one crampon in front of the other, you can’t help but marvel at the exposure and location, glancing left down 1000′ of snow slope and cautiously peering to your right down 9,000 feet of the South Face of Denali.
Finally, if the weather holds and the team’s health and fitness allow, they will come together on a small flat spot before stepping the final tho meters up onto the highest point in North America.
Best of luck Team Fubar!!