AMS guide/instructor Winslow Passey called in last night with an update from the Advanced Mountaineering Course. They were at the junction of the Kahiltna Glacier and the Pika Glacier. They are having a great time. Travelling in whiteouts is very difficult and they have been doing a lot of that lately! It is a skill that is hard to learn and hard to practice, as there are very few places where you can actually encounter a true whiteout.
The above picture does not do a whiteout justice. If you look closely you can still see a person in the picture. In a true whiteout you would not be able to see that far ahead. You would also not be able to see the trail in most cases as you can in this photo. In areas where there are more people walking, like on the West Buttress (although not this time of the year), you can use your ski poles to "feel" for the "trail". Where Winslow and the Advanced Mountaineering Course are travelling is a seldom visited area of the Alaska Range so they are on their own. The only things they have to aid them in their navigation is a Map, a compass, an Altimeter and a GPS. These students are psyched that they are able to get this learning experience. All the while they are learning all sorts of other skills and techniques necessary to travel and climb in a glaciated mountain range.
Another other thing you can probably count on is this... If This crew has been encountering these conditions, other groups in the Range are experiencing similar conditions elsewhere. Depending what other group's plans are for the day (ie, technical climbing or travelling) will dictate what they are able to get done. Technical climbing probably isn't happening today.
Tom Torkelson and the DAV summit club from Germany may or may not be able to move today. Their travel plans will be depend on the winds and temps.
Todd Passey also called in from the Mountain house. They were "hunkered in inside". The Ruth Glacier area has had anywhere from 1-3 feet of snow fall in the last few days. Todd and Michael got to climb Explorers peak before this storm settled in, which is awesome! The guides are psyched when they get to climb peaks like that, that no-one hardly ever climbs. Guides are psyched to climb anything really.
Here's a short video clip of a group starting to build camp in weather that may be similar to what everyone is experiencing in the range right now.