Monday, June 9, 2014

Denali Prep/Kahiltna Dome Expedition

AMS Guide and Instructor Kirby Senden called in from the middle of a whiteout in the 10,000' basin near Kahiltna Pass.  This zone is notorious for whiteout conditions.  Sometimes the weather can be good just a little bit higher and a little bit lower in elevation.  In this case it doesn't sound like it's much better anywhere else on the mountain right now.

It's very common the travel below 14K to Base camp in a white out.  The guides are really good at traveling in close to zero visibility.  There are a lot of tricks to good and effective whiteout navigation.  If you're on Denali this season or have been on Denali in the past you will have a pretty good appreciation for this skill.  But there is nothing like being out in front putting the route in.  It is a very valuable skill to say the least.

Kirby said they were hanging out in the snow doing classes, quarrying snow blocks and building igloos.  He said everyone was doing great and they said hi to everyone.
Here's a photo of a mild whiteout.  You can just make out a climber in the photo.   Because the surroundings are so white in the Alaska Range it's pretty easy to not be able to differentiate between the ground and the sky when you get some snow and wind.  With nothing to distinguish ground from sky, at times it's very difficult to even tell if you're walking up hill or down hill.  Sometimes you even have to refer to an altimeter just to make sure.

No comments: