Yesterday and last night I felt like Nansen doing the first crossing of Greenland. Or at least that’s what I imagined as a legend in my own mind. Louie and I woke late at the 11,000 foot camp below Motorcycle Hill, where we’d had an epic the day before in high winds and drifts that made 100 yards seem like a mile when we rounded Squirrel Point.
The thought of Nansen didn’t occur to me above Motorcycle Hill, but after we began the downhill low-angled slog from 11,000 down to Kahiltna Base at 7,000 feet, we were ‘in the egg’ of a whiteout the whole way, with a nice spicy finish through a few miles of crevasse fields where thawing snow bridges disguised by a few inches of wind skimmed fresh snow created what was honestly one of the more scary crevasse situations I’ve been in. Of course, there were still folks walking through on foot unroped. Weird.
At one point, I tripped when a ski punched through and landed in a sort of kneeling position, punched a hand and arm in the snow — and all I felt when I wriggled my fingers was air. “Tighten the rope!” I yelled to Louie, luckily we were minding our business and the cord was already firm, but still…
We’re here at the airstrip. No planes are flying because of the weather, and we may not get out of here till Saturday. I’m busy with blog posts and photo editing, and the boys are trying to finish out our list of sponsor shots. We’ve already got good pics of most gear, but have a few detail shots we feel the need for.
As most of you following this blog know, we’ve not had the best weather on this trip. Starting with our drive from Colorado, it seems like we’ve been following by clouds and storms. Thus, progressing our crew of seven from here to an exciting ski off the summit, and using the one safe weather day we had once acclimated, feels like a solid accomplishment. Only regret is not skiing one of the big lines because of avalanche danger, but life is precious and mountains are patient — and these guys will probably be back.
More soon folks, I’m listening to some mighty intriguing chatter coming from the photographers outside. Men in Patagonia tights? Stay tuned.
Oh, one other thing:
When we got to camp yesterday, alpinists Colin and Bjorn were two days overdue from getting a new route done on Mount Foraker. Base camp manager had watched them summit, then after that, no news. Thank God they stumbled in early this morning after battling their way through the storm. Colin got fairly severe frostbite on his toes, Bjorn looks a bit skeleton-like, but the two are alive. I can’t imagine getting down Sultana in that storm — like I said above, Louie and I even had trouble getting 100 yards around Squirrel Point above Motorcycle Hill.