Denali Part 2
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05/31/05
Day two on the mountain for us and the weather was pretty crappy. Cloudy with off and on snow. We pushed up towards Kahiltna Pass then to 11,000ft camp with a single carry again. It was another tough day, especially the last hill right before camp. Took us right around 4 hours and it was nice to be up at 11K camp on our second day. 

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When I woke up I didn't hear it snowing and figured it stopped at some point over night. Boy was I wrong, it snowed about 1.5ft! I thought we would spend the day in camp, but within a couple hours the sun was out and other teams were packing down the trail on the way up Motorcycle Hill. After the daily feast for breakfast and melting tons of snow for water, we packed up to make a carry of food, fuel, and gear up to 13,500ft just below 14K camp. We switched to crampons and ice axes here and like every day, roped up into the clusterfuck of gear around our waists. Thankfully we were done with the sleds for now. Windy Corner was quite un-windy luckily and the views around kept getting better. We were 054-day03.JPG (75474 bytes)about eye level with Mt Foraker and it took up a lot of the horizon. The crevasses around this area were big enough to swallow a house as well and we could see what we thought was the summit of Denali, still 7,000ft vertical feet away. Took about 3.5 hours to get up, and only about 45mins to get back to 11K camp.

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Day four on the mountain and we were moving up to the 14,200ft camp. Another leisurely morning before leaving a cache of our sleds, snowshoes, and a couple days worth of food then we somehow managed to fit all our crap in our backpacks and we were off onto Motorcycle Hill again. This time was a bit easier and it took 3.5hrs to the 13,500ft cache, then another hour to camp. The weather turned to crap shortly before we got into camp and I was whooped once again. It was pretty packed up there with people stuck in weather but we were able to find a spot that only needed some bigger snow walls and level ground. The 2,000ft Headwall was looming above us and we could see little dots of people up and down it. About halfway up we could just barely make out the ropes from 15K to 16K. It looked pretty freakin steep!

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Finally a rest day, and it was much needed. We spent the day eating, drinking, and relaxing. Only activity we did besides laugh and take pictures was a quick jaunt down to 13,500ft to pick up our cache from the day before. Bob brought along a small FM radio so we were able to jam out to some oldies. When the sun was out it was pretty warm (well, warm for 14,200ft), but as soon as the clouds were over it or it ducked072-day05.JPG (133948 bytes) behind a ridge, it was time for the down jacket. Wayne's thermometer dipped down to 2 degrees the night before.

06/04/05
Today was our day to carry and cache up at 17,200ft camp after waking up and shivering waiting for the sun to come out and warm up the minus 10 degree air. So we loaded our packs up with about 5 days worth of food, fuel, and gear 076-day06.JPG (113845 bytes)and started up the Headwall. Several people were coming down that had summited the day before on a perfect weather day. Up to ~15,000ft it was a steep snow climb with a couple crevasses, you then get under a berschund for a much needed break and traverse a bit to the fixed lines. The fixed lines run for about 800ft of steep snow and ice up to about 50 degrees. This was interesting at times and a bit scary, especially when ice would cake up in the ascender and slide right down the rope. Every day on this mountain is a bit077-day06.JPG (94826 bytes) more challenging and harder. The pickets are about 75ft apart so at each one you need to stop, put your backup 'biner above it, then move your ascender. Between doing that about 10times for 3 people, sucking wind at altitude, and humpin around a 50lb pack, ya get pretty tired. From 16,200ft to 17,200ft it an exposed ridge with steep snow, rock, and a hell of a lot of air under your feet at times. I certainly was not looking forward to the down climb. Washburn's Thumb had more fixed lines around it and we were moving slow and steady....there's no other way to do it. The weather was pretty crappy and we were trying to time going across the knife edge ridges when the wind would calm down for a few seconds. This was definitely the toughest section of the mtn so far. At 17,200ft camp the wind was really blowin' good 079-day06.JPG (90244 bytes)and it was damn cold so we didn't stick around for any longer then it took to bury a cache and grab a quick bite to eat. Going back down Washburn's Thumb was a traffic jam so we just belayed each other down and around a slightly different section. Instead of using an ascender on the ropes for going down, we would just clip a 'biner around. That way if you do fall, you'll only fall to the next picket. We attempted a 3-person roped glissade with some luck and got back to the 14,200ft camp after a long and hard 9hour day.

06/05/05
Another much needed rest day of sitting around eating, drinking, and taking in the views. And since a week had gone by, it was time for clean shirt, socks, and underwear! What a glorious day. Rumor had it that a storm from the southeast was on its way in, so we were hoping that we could get to 17,200ft camp the following day and summit the next day. We had our fingers crossed!

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