Thursday, May 20, 2010

Zenith, cumbre, acme, pinnacle, summit

Mike Jane's team made the summit last night. They had a long hard summit day, but everyone made it and is doing great. They were about to go to bed this morning around 6:30 AM when he left the message. Way to hang in there!

Rodrigo Mujica called a few minutes ago as well. He said they were doing excellant. They are still at 14K, but were slowly packing up to make the move to high camp. It was a bit windy up on the 16 ridge right now. That's why he said they were slowly packing. I bet there in somewhat of a holding pattern. That means that you start going through the motions of packing up and moving, but you don't take down your tents or kitchen yet. As you get more and more certain that you're going to move you put more and more things into your pack. They will have already dug their cache hole, made group gear piles etc. Water bottles are full, breakfast is done, Rodrigo is just waiting for more signs from the mountain. The good ol' holding pattern routine. Super typical of what goes on on any marginal day. We like to have pretty good weather for this move. It's a tough and exposed day and we need to have enough energy in reserve to be able to build walls and fortify camp on top of a long day.
Here's a picture of Denali pass on a windy morning. Probably similar to what the 16 ridge looks like from 14K. Often these windy days calm down as the morning goes on. That's what Rodrigo is hoping for at this point. And if it does calm down they will move and if it doesn't they'll stay put. The other thing to keep in mind when moving is the time of day. Ideally when a team rolls into high camp they do so with a fair bit of sunshine still hitting camp. If you do have to build a camp from scratch it is really nice to have some warmth to do so in. Even though it is light most all of the time up there right now, it is only "warm" when the sun is upon you. So, at some point, even if it does melolow out, guided teams will often stay put and try again the following day.

AMS guides making us proud as usual!

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