by Jason Kolaczkowski
CMC Denali Trip Leader
We made it.
From our exceptionally high and unplanned camp at 19,150′ just below the “Football Field” to the summit (20,320′) and down to the high camp on the Buttress Route, that was our Thursday.
First, we’ve been blessed with an extended weather window that allowed our summit bid to – in effect – take two days instead of one. But beyond that, I need to credit the team for the strength and flexibility. Because our route was so committing, we decided to do a carry over. Which allowed us to have two full set ups (tents, bags, food, and fuel) with us when we got pressed for time on Wednesday. The strength to make that carry and the fortitude to sleep above 19,000′ saved our summit bid.
As for the summit, itself, I don’t think it’s sunk in, yet. After all, the climb is only half over. Now to descend off the mountain.
We didn’t have great views on the summit. It was warm (about -10) and calm (10mph winds), but we happened to be in a cloud during our time up there despite the rest of the day being sunny. So, you’ll have to make due with a photo of the summit benchmark.
Tomorrow we head down to at least 14,200′, maybe further. No need to go back up to 16,300′ on the Rib since we did the carry over. However, we will sleep in, first.