The Denali Expedition in a nutshell — The Fourth Expedition Update
by Rick Rochelle

Date: 06/27/2007


We just got a satellite phone call from high camp (17,000′).

Eight students (Geoff, Geno, Jon, Naomi, Mark, John, Dan and Lane) reached the summit yesterday afternoon with instructors Erica and Ben! Patrick turned back at 19,400′ with Szu-ting and Robby who were both slowed significantly by the altitude. Erica said both of them agreed it was a good decision and that they were healthy and in good spirits. She said the weather was beautifully clear, but cold: “-15 degrees F with mild to moderate winds.” With weather like that, the view was probably a couple of hundred miles. You can see Denali from Anchorage on a clear day. They said they had the summit to themselves, which is unusual. Often there are folks from the more popular West Buttress route going for the summit as well. Ben broke trail up the summit ridge to 20,320′–the highest point in North America.

Right now they are breaking camp to move down to 14,600′ today. They will check in as a group there and decide whether to continue to push down to the 12,000′ camp. At this time of year it never really gets dark on Denali, so they have plenty of time. As they descend the increased partial pressure of oxygen will allow their bodies to relax and recuperate. Given good weather they will proceed to an even lower elevation tomorrow. We expect to hear from them in three days or so when they reach the cache. Erica said they were looking forward to getting back to 7,500′ where the bulk of their food is cached.

It is still a long trip back down the Harper and Muldrow Glaciers, across the McKinley River and tundra to Wonder Lake. So it is not a time for them to relax, but the complexion of the trip changes significantly on the descent.

Best wishes to you.


P.S. Here are two pictures Seth Kingery wanted me to send to you with his captions:

On the Rope Team – here we are coming up to the lower icefall. This is a great Alaska Factor image, because the icefall is still two miles away, but you would never guess to look.

Perfect Mountain – it is almost the Platonic Ideal of a mountain, isn’t it? I’m coming back – trust me.

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