Denali Dispatch #7: Decision Time

by Jason Kolaczkowski
CMC Denali Trip Leader

Saturday 06-13-2015
Camp 4

The big move happened today: getting all the gear and provisions up to 14,200′. We are now in position for a summit bid.

However, our weather window is soon to close. Wednesday is looking problematic for a summit, and it will stay bad through at least Monday or Tuesday. It takes two days to get off the mountain in good weather, so we’d be pushing to get back to Anchorage in time to make our flights home.

So, with almost a whole week spoken for with bad weather, we are probably looking at our best summit window right now.

This means we won’t have time to set an extra high camp at 17K on the Buttress and then take an extra day on the descent to retrieve the high camp we leave at 16,300′ on the Rib, as was the original plan. We will have to descend the same route we ascend.

We need to decide, then, if we are comfortable descending the Rib. If not, the Buttress will be our best shot at the summit.

Our schedule looks like:

Sunday: Acclimitizaton hike up to 15,500′ or so and back down to 14,200′. After going for many days straight, we need an easier day.

Monday: Up to high camp (either on the Buttress or on the Rib).

Tuesday: Summit attempt. Return to high camp.

Wednesday: Descend to 14,200, break camp, and keep going as far down as weather will allow.

As I write this, however, the weather is beautiful, and so are the views. And the team, rightfully so, is feeling accomplished for having lugged 100+ pounds each up 7000′ vertical.

-Jason

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