Denali Update: Days 3-9

Denali Update: Days 3-9

I’m happy to report that Justin and his RMI team are plugging along up the mountain!! Weather has been really decent (in Denali terms) and they have made it up to Camp 3 (14,000 feet).  Read below to get a sense of the hard, back-breaking work they endure day after day on the mountain. I’m tired just sitting here from my comfy chair writing about it!!

Day 3 – Saturday, May 14
After moving 17 days worth of supplies up the mountain on Friday, they took a rest day at Camp 1 (7,600 feet). With clear weather, they could be outside a little bit, but mostly they stayed in their tents and took naps, watched downloaded movies, listened to music, read, etc. I’m going to bet Justin played several rounds of Hearts on his iPad until his battery died and he had to charge it.

Justin is twinning it with another teammate (in case you can’t tell, J is on the right).
Photo courtesy of Bobby “Bolt”

Day 4 – Sunday, May 15
They moved from Camp 1 (7,600 feet) to Camp 2 (11,200 feet). This doesn’t just mean walking on snowshoes with their heavy packs, but once they get to camp, they have to build platforms, walls and kitchen areas to protect them from the winds (think mini igloos). Lots of digging, lots of moving snow … I simply can’t fathom how tiring this all is! When I backpack long miles, it takes all I have to set up my tent and tent alone!

Photo courtesy of RMI Expeditions

Day 5 – Monday, May 16
The team traversed back down the mountain a bit to grab their cache of 17 days worth of supplies and hauled it back up to Camp 2 (11,200 feet). If you are wondering what a “cache” looks like, I’ve included a visual.

Close to 100 lbs of supplies for each person! That’s unnatural! Isn’t J’s butt cute?
Photo courtesy of Bobby “Bolt”
Dig, dig, dig. If you think shoveling snow is fun, maybe you should take up mountaineering. 
Photo courtesy of RMI Expeditions

Day 6 – Tuesday, May 17
Facing heavy snowfall outside their tent windows, the team took another rest day at Camp 2 (11,200 feet).

Photo courtesy of RMI Expeditions

Day 7 – Wednesday, May 18
The team moved up the mountain to stash supplies at 13,500 feet and came back down to sleep at Camp 2 (11,200 feet).

Heavy backpack load moving up because no more sleds or snowshoes needed above 11,200 feet. Just crampons.
Photo courtesy of RMI Expeditions

Day 8 – Thursday, May 19
Under blue skies and harsh winds at “Windy Corner”, the team pushed up from Camp 2 (11,200 feet) to Camp 3 (14,200 feet), once again building a home fortified by snow.

Prime piece of tent real estate, huh? 
Photo courtesy of RMI Expeditions
Day 9 – Friday, May 20
It’s a good thing they built a strong fortress at Camp 3 (14,200 feet) because the storm bore down on them hard, forcing them to stay put for a rest day in camp.
“Tent city”
Photo courtesy of RMI Expeditions

They will remain at Camp 3 (14,200 feet) for at least three days, but that is all weather dependent. They will repeat the process and move supplies from Camp 3 up higher on the mountain. Eventually, they’ll move to their highest camp at 17,200 feet to make their summit bid. It sounds like there is a weather system upon them now, but hopefully it will clear for a summit attempt later next week.

Also, Justin is now flying solo (with the rest of the team) as poor Bobby (Bolt) had to come off the mountain due to serious trauma to his back from pulling a sled. It is the sad but true reality of mountaineering … your body takes an insane beating and will scream loudly. He is all smiles though and already scheming other adventures minus 50 lb sleds.

Bobby “Bolt” snagged one last photos with the guides before saying goodbye to Denali

One response to “Denali Update: Days 3-9”

  1. Misti says:

    OH no, I'm sorry about Bolt! That sucks! Keep going Justin! You can do it!

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