By Mountain Trips Gary Falk called in from the top of North America! He and Roger Gregory climbed the last three thousand feet from High Camp to the summit of Denali today. They had amazingly warm temperatures and found themselves actually looking down onto thunderstorms in the valleys below. Congratulations guys! You worked very, very hard and earned this summit.
Gary Falk called in from 17,200′, with a nicely detailed report on he and Roger’s climb up from 14,200′ this morning. They awoke early and sneaked out of camp ahead of all the other teams, which gave them a huge advantage of not having to wait for anyone who might be ahead of them, but moving a bit slower. The guys were cruising today! They shaved a full two hours off their time climbing up to their cache and enjoyed a crystal clear, warm day climbing the fun and engaging ridge the last 1000′ to their camp. Mountain Trip has so many small teams on the mountain at the moment that Gary and Roger were able to climb the entire route to High Camp with relatively light loads, because our other teams were able to support them by caching a tent and kitchen equipment for them up at camp. This only added to the experience by allowing them to truly enjoy the fun climbing, rather than just get through it under the weight of monster packs. The plan is to shoot for the summit tomorrow, if they both feel good and the weather dawns clear. Let’s think warm and calm thoughts for the team as they nestle in to bed for the night.
By: Mountain Trip
Gary Falk called in from 14,200′ with a post that was unfortunately cut short by the inconsistencies of satellite communication from such northern latitudes.
He and Roger carried a load up the steepest section of the route today, departing camp and hiking up moderate snow slopes to the base of a feature often called The Headwall. The Headwall is about 600′ high and can vary from 40-50 degrees. Along its length, two ropes are affixed at semi-regular intervals to anchors buried deep in the icy surface. Roger and Gary have mechanical ascenders tethered to their harnesses, which they clipped into one of the ropes for security as they climbed up this steep part of the route.
The Headwall tops out at about 16,200′ and most climbers cache just above the top of the fixed lines. roger and Gary opted to climb up the ridge another 400′ to cache below a prominent rock known as Washburn’s Thumb, named after Bradford Washburn the pioneer of the West Buttress route.
Gary shared a bit of the Father’s Day back patting and embracing that occurred at camp today. It is tough to be a father on the mountain on such an occasion. Thoughts of family and children really tug at one’s heartstrings and finding the will to remain motivated to continue upward can be challenging. Unsaid, but certainly part of the missing end of Gary’s post was a warm shout out to his some Anders, whom Gary is thinking about a lot today.
Thanks to all the children and patient spouses who let their climbing parents and partners go off on these adventures!
By: Mountain Trip
Gary Falk called in an update for he and Roger. The two of them apparently had to enlist some help to drop down below the broad and bustling 14,200′ camp, so as to satisfy a Park Service regulation that prohibits 1:1 guiding below 14,000′. They found someone to go for the hike with them, and walked down 700 vertical feet to the site where they had cached supplies a couple days ago. They dug up their kit, loaded up their packs and walked an hour back uphill to camp, in the company of a new friend!
Pictured above: Windy Corner
Jim called in the dispatch and reported that Gary, Roger and Steve carried a load of equipment and supplies to a cache site at 13,500′. Immediately out of camp the team began ascending Motorcycle Hill, which gains approximately 1000′, then they tackled Squirrel Hill before cresting onto the relatively moderate terrain of the Polo Fields. Then it was more elevation gain up and around Windy Corner, a prominent feature on the West Buttress route that is know for its windy conditions! The cache site is a short distance beyond Windy Corner.
Jim and Steve have made the difficult decision to descend to Base Camp. Jim will assist a climber from another team back to Base Camp, as well. Gary and Roger will continue the climb.