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Update 5/11/2014: The crew has climbed and skied from the summit of Mount Hunter, they’re bivouacked part way down the mountain to rest and wait for the right temperatures to complete descent down to their high camp on glacier.
We leave low camp on the Kahiltna at 4:45 am. It’s not quite dark, but close by Alaska standards. Stepping out of the tent I watch as the last of a red moon fades over Mount Foraker. Off we go. Skinning for the first mile or so, then crampons as we cross the heinous but now well-wanded route through the gut of the glacier.
Aaron leads the quick pitch of WI4 water ice and we rope haul our bags up it. I finish after sending the bags up to our haulers and we are on our way again. A quick steep snow pitch and it’s back to skis and skins for the last 1/2 mile or so to our camp for the day.
It’s day because our plan is to start climbing at 9 pm tonight, since this route is 6000 vertical from here and gets early sun, and given that it’s probably 45 degrees F as I sit here looking down glacier, we would like to avoid being on the Ramen route when it starts peeling apart tomorrow! Aaron is over there snoring looking like something out of Star Wars. We brought only a Black Diamond Mega Light tent up this high since our friend Joel Gratz over at Open Snow says the weather will be fine. Joal gave us the perfect weather window reports during our trip in 2010, we’re thinking he will repeat. Thanks Joel!
(‘Big Three’ is an Alaskan ski mountaineering expedition cooked up by four deprived (or perhaps depraved?) guys who never get enough ski and snowboard mountaineering. The idea is to ski Denali, Mount Foraker, and Mount Hunter all during one expedition.)
Map below shows location of high camp. Click the “View on Google Maps” link.
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Jordan White is a strong alpinist who finished skiing all 54 Colorado 14,000 foot peaks in 2009. He guides, tends bar, and lives the all-around perfect life in Aspen.