After a few days confined to a tiny tent due to poor weather with two other grown men, I was ready to do just about anything to get out of there, including mountain climbing! Yesterday was a long, hard day but the weather was clear and beautiful. All the poor weather was below us at around 7,000 ft. We were behind another team as we all slowly made our way to the summit. We got some gorgeous photos -- including one with the Wilderness Supply logo -- and then headed back down, where we stopped at 17 camp to rest. The whole trip took us around 14 hours to complete and we were exhausted at the end of it all. Today we will be heading down to 14 camp where we will likely stop to sleep. Depending on conditions and how we feel we may continue on a little further. By tomorrow we hope to get to Base Camp and then get ready to fly on out.
"We have made it to the summit and are now heading down!" Message received at 10:14 pm CDST.
We kicked off our day yesterday at about 10 a.m. carrying monster packs weighing around 55 to 60 pounds or more so it was pretty crazy. We managed to climb up the Headwall to the West Buttress (up to approx. 16,200) and then the rest of the way to 17,200 along a very narrow ridge. It was absolutely amazing but extremely hard. In fact, finally made it into High Camp around 7 or 8 at night in the middle of a storm where we were happy to hunker down in our tents at around 17,500 ft. Thankfully, we are safe and happy in our tents -- well, actually happy is something else as these tents are very, very small and there are three of us to a tent. You can't move a fingertip without disturbing the others in the tent which is kinda interesting. The other thing is that it is frightfully cold and while the close quarters keep us warm, the inside of the tents are completely iced up and then it starts to "rain." Now we just have to wait and see... we are hanging out, drinking hot drinks, and waiting for the weather to go. Then we will have a shot at the summit. It actually looks quite positive -- we are just waiting for the weather report to come in. If the weather is good, we could be up tomorrow and then we will head directly down to 14 camp (14,000 ft) where we would have a break before heading down to Base Camp. Cross the fingers -- we'll be back down in a couple of days!
So much for a few days waiting out the weather at 14,000... for those of you watching Adam's SPOT on the location page, you'll see that the team has made it to High Camp at 17,200 ft. I have not spoken with Adam since their arrival at High Camp but I did receive a message from his SPOT saying that "All is ok" which is the standard message I get when everything is going well. Stay posted -- the summit is next!
We climbed up to around 16,000 ft yesterday as you will have seen if you were watching the SPOT. It is not as steep as it looks and everything is set up very well and very safely. When you come back down to a lower altitude (14,000 ft) after a high altitude climb, everyone is pretty worn out and we all slept for 12 hours or so. The remaining members of the group are doing very well and we've been enjoying a rest day at camp today. In fact, there is some poorer weather coming in, so we may be here for a few days.
I just watched a skier come down the hill on the West Buttress route -- just amazing!! It is just starting to snow here at 14,000 ft and we are expecting some poorer weather in the days to come with the heaviest snowfall expected on Wednesday. Three members of our group have decided to pull out and head down as they have not managed to acclimatize well so we are down to 6 people in our team. We are getting ready to climb up to Headwall -- a couple thousand feet into the clouds, a part of which will be on the fixed lines. I am feeling much better today and am acclimatizing well.
Thanks to Andrew George, #9, and Brownie for the messages.
To all who have been keeping an eye on this blog for information on Adam's progress up Denali: I have heard very little from him in the last few days. I did get one message that, beyond the initial "hi", was impossible to understand. I deduced from the tone of the garbled words that he must be doing ok. Hope you are all keeping up-to-date on his team by watching the following blog site: http://aaidispatches.blogspot.ca/search/label/Denali Team 3 2012. There is a bit more information to be found there.
I will post more as I know more.
We are back at 11,000 feet after having somewhat of a rest day which entailed going down and grabbing some stuff about 1500 feet below us. It's another beautiful, sunny day -- the weather is amazing. We are seeing our first clouds in about 3 days now. It is quite spectacular.
Tomorrow we are heading up to Windy Corner -- we will be climbing up Motorcyle HIll and finally getting rid of our snowshoes and pulling on our crampons. We will come back down again to 11,000 after climbing to around 13,000 ft.
All is good.
We are settling into Camp 2 at about 11,000 ft. It is a beautiful day with absolutely gorgeous weather. In fact, I am sitting out in the sun getting burnt to a crisp which is kind of ironic but it is starting to get cold now. We spent the better part of the day getting from Camp 1 to Camp 2 which is about a 3,500 ft climb. All is good. It's been a long, long day. We are well and truly up in the mountains and the view is nothing short of spectacular.
Thanks to the following friends for sending messages: the Guenthers and the Browns. To Jonathon Thompson -- "go hard in the race on the 27th!" And Graham -- "yes, the coke in the fridge is mine."
From Emily -- the messages from Adam are generally fairly clear but there are definitely garbled bits that are hard to understand so Graham, I think Adam was talking about coke for whatever reason (I'm sure you understand!) and I believe that I got all names of friends who have sent messages so far, but if you sent one and weren't mentioned, it is likely because there were parts of Adam's message that were difficult to understand. Keep the messages coming.
We climbed about 3000 ft today and are now back down at Camp1. The weather was sunny and warm with temps around 17C to 20C -- quite a striking difference from the frigid overnight temps of -30C. For those of you missing the Manitoba winter, this is definitely the place to be.
We have reverted to our primal selves -- privacy is not a requirement, or at least not available, and taking care of bodily functions with our team members around is now the norm. Luckily (or not, depending on your viewpoint), we have a "Clean Mountain Can" to help us with some matters (http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/cmc.htm). Probably enough information on that front. I had a mountain shower today which consisted of 2 wet wipes and deodorant.
I am thankful that everything is holding together in terms of my physical fitness so far and my knees continue to work (Hurray!).
I am appreciative of all the messages from friends. Great to hear from the Mingays. And to Gilly -- thanks for noting my slow progress. You should know that I'm actually in Maui sipping Mai Tai's. Whilst passing through Seattle, I gave my Spot to a punter on his way to Anchorage!