Monday, July 5, 1999 4:18pm(PST)
"It took us 31 hours to descend from 17,000ft. It was a long 31 hours. The biggest problem was the lower glacier had melted out incredibly and there were a lot of crevasses..."
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A Season On Denali
Starting May 10, Alpine Ascents International guides Wally Berg, Vern Tejas, Scott Darsney, Martin Zabaleta, Bill McCormick, Jamie Pierce, Pat Timson, Jim Williams, Tom Bridge, and Sean Sullivan will lead small guided partiessix clients maxon a succesion of attempts to climb 20,320-foot Mount McKinley in Alaska's Denali National Park.
Denali is the highest, coldest peak commonly climbed by guided parties, the members of which often have no comparable experience in the mountains. It is one of the great adventures available to climbers or aspiring climbers who lack big-mountain resumes but who wish to have the big-mountain experience.
The Alpine Ascents team will fly to the Kahiltna with Talkeetna Air Taxi; the guides will report frequently to MountainZone.com not just about the progress of their own teams, but about weather, conditions and all the busy action that takes place on North America's highest peak. Join us for real-time coverage of a season's worth of climbing on one of the world's most exciting "climbers'" mountain.
Peter Potterfield, MountainZone.com Editor
Day 2: Talkeetna. Travel to Talkeetna. Final gear check and flight preparations.
Day 3: Kahiltna Glacier. After a final gear check we board a 185 Cessna aircraft to base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier (7,300ft). (The flight will depart that afternoon or the following morning.) The flight to Kahiltna is marvelous, presenting outstanding views of magnificent peaks and glaciers including Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter and Moose's Tooth. We spend the day at base camp, preparing for the climb and reviewing crevasse rescue and glacier travel.
Day 4: Carry loads to Camp I (7,900ft). Snowshoes may be necessary between camps on the lower part of the mountain. Double carries are sometimes made between most camps to allow for proper acclimatization and lighter load carries.
Day 5: Move to Camp I.
Day 6: Carry loads to Camp II (10,000ft), at Kahiltna Pass. This route follows the Kahiltna glacier.
Day 7: Move to Camp II.
Day 8: Carry gear to Camp III (11,500ft). We turn west and ascend steep terrain. Camp III offers exquisite views and vistas of the 3,000ft rock and ice face on the edge of the West Buttress.
Day 9: Move to Camp III.
Day 10: Carry gear to Camp IV(14,200ft). We will pass around Windy Corner, which exposes stunning panoramic views of surrounding peaks and the northeast fork of Kahiltna Glacier, 4,000ft below.
Day 11: Move to Camp IV. Depending upon climbing conditions, we may spend an extra day moving gear to Camp IV. This will aid acclimatization and break up the long carry.
Day 12: Rest and acclimatize Camp IV. The upcoming ascent is the most demanding part of the climb.
Day 13: Carry loads to Camp V (16,400ft). From Camp IV we ascend 1,100ft of moderate snow slopes to reach the beginning of the fixed lines. Using ascenders on the lines to self-belay, we ascend the Headwall, which consists of 900ft of 45*-50* snow and ice. Upon reaching the crest of the west buttress, we enter the world of the mountaintops. The climb takes on an entirely different nature as the feeling of being amongst the clouds and peaks dominates the senses.
Day 14: Move to Camp V.
Day 15: Carry and move to Camp VI (17,200ft). We follow an exposed ridge around Washburn's Tower, which merges into the main massif of Denali. Camp VI is established on a saddle just above "Rescue Gully" and overlooks Camp IV, 3000ft below us.
Day 16: Rest day. Rest and prepare for the summit attempt.
Day 17: Summit day. We traverse across a steep snow face to Denali pass. From here we follow gentle slopes to reach Archdeacons Tower and a large plateau at 19,400ft, known as the "football field." From the plateau we ascend on moderate terrain to the crest of the summit ridge. From this vantagepoint, we look upon the immense 8,000ft South Face, with Cassin Ridge and the South Buttress in full view. As we follow an exposed ridge up the last 300ft, excitement grows as we approach the top of North America. From the summit we'll have a 360° view of the Alaska Range, with Mt. Hunter and Mt. Huntington to the south and Mt. Foraker to the west. These peaks, along with scores of others, mark this mountain view as one of the most impressive in the world. At the end of the day we will return from the summit to spend the night at high camp.
Days 18-19: Return to base camp. From high camp we spend two days returning to Base Camp where we will board our Cessna and return to Talkeetna and then on to Anchorage.
Day 20: Depart Anchorage to home.
Days 21-23: Extra Days. Extra days for inclement weather and acclimatization may be utilized at any point on the expedition.
Note: This itinerary represents an ideal schedule. Due to the nature of
climbing Denali, there may be delays due to weather.
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