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Denali 2005: Alpine Ascents Denali 2005

Denali (20,320ft/6,195m) Alaska

Overview: There are certain mountains that need no explanation as to why climb. Denali is such a mountain. Its tremendous size and beauty generate a magnetism that continually draws climbers from around the world. An ascent of Denali, touches the psyche of all alpinists and for those who have undertaken its challenges, it rewards them with an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Denali is often considered America's most classic climb. From top to bottom, it rises nearly 18,000', an elevation gain unsurpassed anywhere in the world. At a northern latitude of 63°, it is the most northerly of any big mountain over 20,000'. No other region offers such breathtaking and diverse views each day of the ascent. The panorama from Denali's summit includes Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter and Mt. Huntington in all their majestic glory.

When Dr. Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, he heralded in a new era of Denali ascents and offered climbers a unique approach to the summit. The flight onto the glacier is a trip in itself, presenting overwhelming vistas of the Alaska Range. The West Buttress route remains, by far, the most successfully climbed route on the mountain.

Climb Overview: A Denali climb begins deep in the heart of the Alaska Mountain Range on the Kahiltna Glacier. From the S.E. Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier we begin the climb of Denali's West Buttress. Base Camp plus five higher camps are established on the mountain. When necessary, the team makes double carries between all camps, except high camp, to ensure proper acclimatization and reduce loads. In each camp we build snow walls for protection from possible high winds. The climb takes approximately 17-18 days round trip from Base camp.

Team I Waits for weather to clear. May 6, 2005 : This is Andy Rich calling with Alpine Ascents Denali Team I. We’ve come up with the team name, our team name is Denali Sango-Oichan 7. Our team consists of myself Andy Rich, Dan Starr and six Japanese climbers. Their names are Saito, Shirota, Oichan, Yasu, Yuki, and Hiro. We hoped to fly into the SE fork of the Kahiltna yesterday afternoon, but the clouds did not allow for us to fly, so we are still waiting at the airstrip in Talkeetna. The weather doesn’t look much more promising today, we’ll probably practice some rope systems, get to know each other and Dan and I will work on our Japanese phrases.

When the mountain decides to emerge from the clouds like a beautiful butterfly, emerging from her cocoon, then we will fly on to the mountain and spend a day in Base Camp and then begin moving up the mountain from there. We won’t have cell phone coverage early on, so if we do fly on this afternoon we won’t have a cybercast for 3 or 4 days. If we don’t fly on we will have another installment for you very shortly. That’s all for now. This is Denali Sango-Oichan 7 signing off.

Team 2 Flies to the Mountain: May 8, 2005: Yes this is Steve Whitney calling from Alpine Ascents Expedition number 2, flying in to the Kahiltna Base Camp today, it is 3:17 AK expedition time and we have Jeff, Ronnie David, Gabe, Kurt, Brian and Steve and Trevor are the guides and we are so psyched. Our team name is the "Mystic Elvises."

It is blue skies here, light winds, you can see the mountain and it looks beautiful. We have a strong group and we are psyched to get out onto the ice. So stay tuned for more details of our adventure, we’ve been gearing up and we’re at the strip right now and we’re headed out, thanks a lot for following us, we’ll be in touch as soon as we can get cell coverage in the next 4-5 days.

Denali Sango-Oichan 7 approaches Camp II May 9, 2005: This is Andy Rich calling in from 10,000 feet. We passing the cache we put in yesterday. We broke down our camp at 7,800 feet and we are well on our way to Camp II at 11,200 feet. We should be there to make camp tonight. Clouds are in and out but travel is easy and everyone is moving really well. Dan and I have been practicing our Japanese and we’re getting our first couple of words down. (laughter) That’s all the news for now, sayonara.

Denali Sango-Oichan 7 at Camp II May 10, 2005: Konichi-wa, this is Dan Starr calling from Denali Sango Oichan-7. We’re at 10,000 feet here at our cache site again. The weather is beautiful today, not a cloud in sight and the temperatures are warm. We’re retrieving our cache, bringing it up to our 11,000 foot camp today, kind of having a relaxing day today, and then we’re going to push up around Windy Corner tomorrow, and set another cache at 13.5 and be back down to 11,000 feet probably for the next night or two.

That’s it, everybody is doing great, we’re having a great time studying Japanese and we’re just getting ready o move into the blue room, conditions look a little blue there on the upper mountain, mostly white down here below 10,000 feet but surprisingly blue up there. So that’s it for now thanks for checking in, sayonara.


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