Fun And Games At 14,200


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 7, 2010      



It’s been snowing quite a bit here at 14,200 feet on Denali. A final energetic burst dropped about a foot last night. First result of that was a collapsed cook tent, with two broken poles and a nice tear.

Our wake up call this morning. Gumby move to let it collapse, but we fixed it. More careful now.

Our wake up call this morning. Gumby move to let it collapse, but we fixed it. More careful now.



I’d thought about harassing the boys last night about taking down the tent or at least checking it several times during the night, but just wasn’t in the mood to nag and figured the consequences would speak better than me. As penance for not being more verbal, I spent two hours stitching the tear.
Denali tent tear

Denali tent tear

Louie repaired the poles and we’re back in business, better than ever, as the boys activated our snow saws and built some really nice block walls around the tent so a wind event doesn’t do to us what the snow did. We all agreed we’d take the tent down at night.

Denali cook tent

Denali cook tent

After the tent mini-epic we made a few ski laps on the lower part of the West Buttress route behind camp, three or four hundred vert that felt like a thousand to me as I’m still not acclimated. Just for grins, Joe and Jordan made the run shirtless–that’s how much the weather up here varies. Apparently the run behind camp is the only place the Park Rangers are allowed to ski on a glacier without a rope. I was a bit leery of doing so anyway, but the slope gets use on a European scale, with no incidents, so with that in mind I stowed the rope in the pack.

Lower West Buttress

Lower West Buttress

After the ski laps it was time for some avalanche watching. Camp was amused when a fairly big one ran from the area looker’s left of Messner Couloir. When that one turned into a huge roaring powder avalanche headed straight at us shouts of RUN echoed across the glacier and nearly the whole camp began scrambling away from the powder cloud in a mass run-for-your-lives panic attack. That is everyone but the seasoned vets such as alpinists Colin and Bjorn who are camped next to us. They just stood by their tent and laughed, then mentioned that if you want to see something really big, go to the Karakorum.

Can you outrun an avalanche at 14,200 Feet? Pure comedy.

Can you outrun an avalanche at 14,200 Feet? Pure comedy.

At any rate, the avalanche panic was pretty funny and quite the adrenaline rush. And the debris did end up a few hundred feet from the perimeter campsites on that side of camp. The dusting of snow felt good in the heat.

The 'ski slope' behind camp is the start of the true West Buttress route. Headwall section is the steeper terrain below obvious saddle. Classic part of route is the ridge to right. Rescue Gully heads up to right and is frequently used as a ski descent.

The 'ski slope' behind camp is the start of the true West Buttress route. Headwall section is the steeper terrain below obvious saddle. Classic part of route is the ridge to right. Rescue Gully heads up to right and is frequently used as a ski descent.

Park Rangers stationed up here have been giving us good advice. They’re saying that as things stand now, our best bet for a summit ski is to take the West Buttress route down to the Rescue Gully (which leaves from near the 17,000 foot camp, then take the Rescue Gully back to here. The key will be for us all to do some acclimation climbs as high as possible. For me, getting acclimated to 17,000 is probably essential so I’ll try to do a few climbs to that elevation within the next five days or so. But when the summit weather comes, we’ll need to at least give it a try as you just don’t get that many windows up here.

Looking down on the 14,200 foot camp from the ski slope, Huntington and Hunter in background.

Looking down on the 14,200 foot camp from the ski slope, Huntington and Hunter in background.



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Comments

11 Responses to “Fun And Games At 14,200”

  1. John June 7th, 2010 5:57 am

    Looks like the South and North Peaks of Hunter. Can’t see Huntington from where you are.

  2. John June 7th, 2010 6:10 am

    53?? Vern Tejas is 57 and he passed you earlier on his 4 day and 40th ascent of Denali. Of course he was better acclimated, having been on top of Everest 5/24.

  3. Dave June 7th, 2010 8:51 am

    Great work guys! Lou, the photo of everyone running from camp is priceless….can I get a print of that one? I notice that you have covered some ground yourself….a few hundred yards from camp. Good luck in the coming days!

  4. CDawson June 7th, 2010 9:14 am

    Some truly great shots, can’t wait to see the rest when you return.
    Looking forward to the summit photos!!!

  5. Prakash June 7th, 2010 9:53 am

    Awesome update. Colin and Bjorn sound cool. That avy picture is hilarious… I would’ve probably led the runners :dizzy:

  6. andrew C June 7th, 2010 10:05 am

    Thanks very much for the update Lou. I am reading the father/son-and-buddies adventure with great interest. I wonder how difficult it would be for me to get acclimatized–being from relatively low alt. Nelson, BC. Looks like you are getting in some good turns on Buttress. As is often the case here on wildsnow, pretty inspirational stuff. Stay safe and merci!

  7. Mark W June 7th, 2010 2:38 pm

    The lower West Buttress shot is amazing. Oh, and even Superman couldn’t really outrun a slide. Funny photo of the runners.

  8. Shaun Rourke June 7th, 2010 3:27 pm

    Hope you guys are enjoying that snow! everything is going quick here back in the RF Valley. Ty, Colb, Jordan – tell Lou not to worry about helping w his gear. after all, you’ve had plenty of practice hauling my butt around! Great stuff guys

  9. Patrick Odenbeck June 7th, 2010 4:38 pm

    Hey crew I just put an new Mystery Ranch ad of Kyle from the Ranch launching one of the cliffs above 14 camp back in 2008. Just wanted you to know we are sending positive thoughts your way from here in Montana!

  10. Ken Gross June 7th, 2010 8:55 pm

    What a great adventure, nice work guys!

  11. Nick June 8th, 2010 10:35 am

    Patrick- that photo of the cliff huck at 14 camp is sweet!

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