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Editor’s note: Today, May 27, the guys have progressed up the Washburn Route on Denali to the point where they’re moving gear up the hill from the 11,000 foot camp, goal being to move their camp to 14,000 feet. That’s the usual staging area for ski descents. We have more blog posts coming, but to get things in sequence we’re moving this to the top above the Foraker posts. Be sure to check map at bottom of post; we keep adding to it.
It’s May 24th and the team is well rested as we get a late 6 pm start from Kahiltna Base for Camp 1 (7,800 feet on Kahiltna Glacier, see map at bottom of this post). After a quick unroped ski down Heartbreak Hill with our sleds, I rope up to Jordan and begin 5 miles of rolling glacier travel to the 7,800 foot camp where the glacier steepens and the trip will again feel more like a climb than a ski tour. Jordan leads the way sauntering along the well packed trail. My mind wanders.
Today is probably the most regretful day of the trip for me. Today is one of my best friend’s wedding and instead of being there to celebrate with him I’m slogging Kahiltna. At this point in the day he has probably already said his vows and is well into the party that’s to follow. Anyways, here’s a Wildsnow shoutout to Anthony and Becca. Congratulations, party it up, drink one for me, and enjoy spending the rest of your lives together. I can’t wait to hear about it when I get out.
The light is flat on the glacier. Cloud ceiling is only a couple thousand feet off the deck and obscuring views of Denali, Crosson, and the other peaks that surround us as gigantic walls. As I look around, and try to spot our tracks on Crosson, I realize that these sights that were new and interesting have become commonplace after 20 days here. It’s a disappointing thought and pushes me on in hopes of new vistas.
We reach the 7,800 foot camp in a few hours. After a short discussion about moving on to 11k we decide that the incoming storm is probably moving too fast to allow us to reach 11k before it sets in. The prospect of getting stuck at Kahiltna Pass (an inhospitable area below the 11,000 foot camp) is not appealing. So after a few renovations we move into a campsite and unpack. The big tent goes up in a couple minutes. Inside we go.
I unpack my journal. A quick glance reveals that I’m moving in on spending two months of this winter covered in goose feathers and sleeping in the snow. Depending on who you ask that’s either dumb, cool, fun, or masochistic. I tend to think it fits into the first three but occasionally I wonder if becoming a surfer might have been a better idea. Ahhh bikinis… won’t be long now.
(‘Ski The Big 3 is an Alaskan ski mountaineering expedition cooked up by four deprived (or perhaps depraved?) guys who never get enough ski and snowboard mountaineering. Aaron Diamond, Evan Pletcher, Anton Sponar, Jordan White. The idea is to ski Denali, Mount Foraker, and Mount Hunter all during one expedition. They’ve got six weeks worth of food and enough camera gear to outfit a small army. Should be interesting. We wish them safe travels, we’re enjoying being their blog channel.)