Throughout the early hours of Thursday morning, no there was no wind and clear skies. However as I checked the skies at 7:00AM, the seemingly ever-present lenticular cloud once again hovered over Mt. McKinley suggesting high winds and dangerous windchills.Today was not to be a summit day, again.
We are getting familiar with this drill, this is our sixth day at 17,500′ High Camp. Each day the weather gave us a different reason to stay put. We are not taking this personally. There are at least seven teams totaling about 50 climbers stalled either at High Camp or the 14,000′ Camp just below us.
We have an advantage over the lower teams if a window appears in that we can scurry up the Hill almost immediately. Whereas, the lower teams still must climb the Headwall and Ridge, a day’s work, before making an immediate attempt.
We all represent the last teams of the traditional season. The National Park Service took down their seasonal station at 14K Camp and left a few days ago. As the Alaskan Fall and harsh winter sets in, only a few hardy independent climbers will attempt Denali each month until next April.
But this is all academic for us at the moment. The weather forecast calls for more of the same now through Sunday, our departure day from High Camp.
The temperatures are mild for this altitude Alaska; nights around zero and days in the 20’s.
So, the bottom line is we have three more opportunities: Friday, Saturday and even Sunday. But we need low winds, a relatively clear day and not a lot of new snow thus no avalanche danger.
This is the nature of mountaineering.
I will make an audio dispatch if we start up or on Sunday keeping everyone informed. Until then, please send good thoughts our way.
As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
Memories are Everything