Mountain Trip Guide Chris Cullaz called in from 7,800′ on the Kahiltna Glacier. The members of our June 17, 2019 West Buttress Team met in Anchorage a couple days ago, finalized their preparations and flew onto the Sotheast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier to Denali Base Camp yesterday.
The team members include David Wilde, Rawan Dakik, Brigitte Frost Noehe, Lasse Gregersen, and Florian Ostra. The guides for the team are Kristin Arnold, Chris Cullaz and Maddie Crowell.
Today, the team moved up glacier about five miles, gaining a total of 600′ of elevation. Camp is situated at the junction of the Kahiltna and the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. A fairly steep hill in the glacier compresses the ice, making for a good place to camp, without much in the way of crevasse hazard.
To mitigate against slushy snow and potentially weak snow bridges covering crevasses, the team is electing to travel during the coldest hours of night. This puts them on a kind of wacky schedule, as evidenced by their having finished dinner at 4pm!
Tomorrow, they will ascend Ski Hill, an 1800′ series of hills on the glacier and carry loads of supplies to a point below their next camp. They will dig a hole in the snow and bury their “cache” before descending back to 7,800′ for the night. This is called “carrying loads” or “making a carry.” It helps them move their supplies and also eases their bodies into the thinner air of higher elevations, while enabling them to sleep a bit lower. “Climbing high and sleeping low” is a tried and true method to help climber acclimatize on big mountains.