We got out of camp at Kahiltna Base around midnight. The snow was nicely frozen, making for safer crevasse terrain travel as well as much better sled pulling, not to mention personal comfort as opposed to the scorching heat you can get at this altitude (around 7,000 feet). With loads of around 120 lbs each, we still moved well as the angle of this section isn’t all that steep and sleds work well.
So we made a quick camp here at what one could call Camp One at 7,800 feet elevaton, where we’re waiting again for frozen snow, but also considering doing a double carry on the next section.
The terrain becomes steeper above here, and we have to acclimate anyway, so spending a couple days going back and forth from 11,000 feet seems logical.
But logic? We’re definitely still considering loading up the whole junkshow and just seeing how far we get up the hill with a single carry. We’ll see which option prevails.
We’re all fairly acclimated to this zone already due to where we all live and climb. But because of its latitude Denali is effectively a few thousand feet higher in elevation (in terms of air pressure) than that indicated on the map. This means care with the altitude is job number one.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.