by Jason Kolaczkowski
CMC Denali Trip Leader
Camp 5 (16,300′)
Seven months ago, to the day, I became a father, twice over. I’ve been thinking of Connor and Kade and my wife, Kristina, a lot today.
Tomorrow we head for the summit, and the fact that I’m here at all says everything about the confidence I have in my team. Not just me, but my little boys and my wife, as well, are all counting on them. I couldn’t have picked a better five mountaineers to join me.
I don’t think it would be a stretch to talk about love when it comes to a climbing team. A different kind of love, but love nonetheless. That couldn’t be more appropriate on a day when – seven months ago – I truly learned that love grows and multiplies with new people and new joys, it doesn’t divide. I love my family, and I love my team (even if being hunkered down in a tent with them for a couple of weeks my try the patience of that love from time to time).
Sitting here on this high perch, overlooking almost the entire route (see the photo), the team is in equally high spirits. We have a big day, tomorrow, but are at our most confident. We’re busy making water, adjusting crampons to fit on over our overboots, and talking of the plan for our summit bid.
The weather forecasts have stabilized, and we still anticipate the weather getting progressively better as the day goes on. So, there is really no time pressure but for making sure we are in high Camp 6 at 17,200′ on the Buttress by 10pm or so (local time, we are two hours ahead of you). Sun hits our route around 10am; we won’t want to be on the route before then, as we don’t want rock-hard snow conditions.
We’re in position and as prepared as possible. The weather seems to be smiling upon us. Here we go.