Friday, May 18, 2012

5/11 Denali Expedition

Joey and his team are moving up to 14,200' today, the weather is great.  This move usually takes between 6 and 8 hours.  This is the hardest day, so far, of their expedition.  The team previously made a carry up to 13,500' to leave a cache of gear and equipment, so their gear weight is a bit lighter today.  Today's added challenge is that they will travel around 'Windy Corner' which is steeper and is sloped, so 90-95% of the weight will be carried in their backpacks and they will have much less in their sleds. 

When the team arrives at their cache at 13,500' today, they will gather up and take a good rest break.  They won't take many, if any, supplies from their cache though.  They will pick this cache up tomorrow (weather permitting).  There are very few places on the route where the teams can gather up as a group while they are moving from camp to camp due to the potential hazard of hidden crevasses along the way.  To organize their equipment, it helps to have the team gathered together at caches. Before they can do so the guides first probe the area (with really long, strong poles (about 9 feet) that look like a tent pole of sorts) to determine if there are hidden crevasses. 

Not only will Joey's team travel all the way to 14,200' today, but when they get there they will build a camp out of blocks of snow.  Once they arrive at the 14,200', they will be working hard to get camp established before the sun goes behind the 16,000' ridge.  As soon as the sun disappears the temperatures drop significantly.  Since all that they have to do tomorrow is walk down hill 700 vertical feet (...and back up again), they will most likely have a restful day and wait until the sun warms their tents before they get up and start getting ready for the back carry.
Here, a team rolls into 14 camp.  Mount Hunter in the background.

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