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Denali 2005: Alpine Ascents Denali 2005: Walking Heads Carries to Washburn's Thumb


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

Walking Heads Carries to Washburn's Thumb June 28, 2005: Hey it’s Molly from Walking Heads calling from Advanced Base Camp 14,200 feet. We took a run up the fixed lines today, all the way up to Washburn’s Thumb at 16,800 feet. We were able to help Brennan Brunner off, he tagged a ride with us up the fixed lines and he reunited with his team, which is waiting out some high winds at High Camp and hope to summit tomorrow. Folks seemed to really enjoy the fixed lines and getting up to some exposed terrain, weaving through rocks and up some steeper snow slopes, using fixed line protection along the way. Everybody is still looking happy and healthy and we’re hoping that some good weather will come our way. Big hello and lots of love to friends and family.

Team Ex Reunites and Waits for Weather. June 28, 2005    
Howdy this is Jim with Team Extreme with our update for June 28th. Early morn we woke up with the intention of making a summit push, gusts up to 50mph however put the team on ‘hot’ standby with the hope that conditions would improve. They didn’t, forcing us to take another rest day at 17,200 feet. To keep mind and body fit, we stayed busy. Suzanne dug a large snow trench, 20 feet long and three feet deep to further fortify her tent. Dana, who was also in a digging mood, carved out a fine footwell. The girls also got in some fierce backgammon play. Word on the mountain is that Dana kicks butt. As for Vern, John and I, we strapped on our trusty crampons to pick up our teammate and co-guide, Brennan, meeting him at 16,200 feet. We’re psyched to have him with us again. The journey from 16,200 to 17,200 is pretty incredible. We’ve done this three times now. The trail perhaps could be described as a twisty, narrow sidewalk with thousand-foot drops on either side. Looking down upon the clouds, traveling along this path is an amazing experience. The guys also kept their minds sharp by counting the little squares on the inside of their tent. 1,529,000 was the number is you’re interested. Our warm sleeping bags are now calling our name, so I’ll wrap up. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks promising, so hopefully tomorrow’s message will bring good news. Good night from the land of thin air and thanks for following our expedition.

Walking Heads Rests at 14,200 Feet June 27, 2005    
Hi this is Andy Rich calling from the Walking Heads for our June 27th update. We spent the day today at 14,000 feet having an enjoyable rest day, we slept in and had a nice big ol’ egg sandwich breakfast followed by more rest throughout the day, which was well-deserved. Everybody pulled together in the afternoon and we practiced some of our technical skills, had a review that is going to set us up well for our carry up the fixed lines tomorrow. We’re going up to 16 to 17,000 feet tomorrow as an acclimatization hike, we’re also going to move a little bit of gear, but fortunately some of the previous teams have left a bunch of gear and food and fuel up there for us, so we don’t have to burden ourselves with as much weight as we usually would, but we do intend on going up there to acclimatize and we’ll spend the day up there and hopefully the weather will be bearable. Everybody seems to be doing really well, we had a nice relaxing day and we’re looking at another 10 hours of sleep tonight, so I think we’re well in track. I think that’s about it, Andy Rich Team Walking Heads, out.

Team Ex Waits for Weather at High Camp June 27, 2005    
Hi this is Dana aka Smiley with Team Ex. Team Ex woke today with high winds rattling our tents, a telltale sign that we would not be heading to the summit. We spent our day building fortress walls around our tents, creating an oasis from the winds and spindrifts. We settled in for naps and game time. The high winds persisted through the day making it impossible for Brennan to come up and join us. We hope for calm and clear tomorrow, keep us in your thoughts, xoxoxo Team Ex.

Updates

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.

 

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