Trudging up the Kahiltna Glacier from Camp 1 (around 7,000 feet) is a necessary torture. You can go to the 9,600 foot camp, or if you’re strong go all the way to 11,200 feet. In either case you can carry a full load or take a couple of days and carry two loads.
Advantage of double carry is you climb high and sleep low. But it does take a bit more energy.
Louie and I opted for the double carry to 11,000, while the rest of the boys did a single to 9,600, then after sleep another carry to 11,000. The double went well though still a bit of a leg fry. Skiing back down took all of about 20 minutes, as compared to about 4 hours up. Without skis, I don’t know how you’d do it. We did this whole deal at night, to make sure the glacier was frozen tight and much safer from crevasse falls. We got the ultimate visuals on that one, with a full moon rising over Mount Hunter, and the gigantic Kahiltna Glacier extending below for probably 20 or 30 miles.
Resting today, but I had time to assemble a small birthday cake for Louie. Lighting the candles in our tent was probably the most dangerous thing I’ve done for the past 24 hours!
We’ll sleep all day then head up to 11,000 again. That’s when the altitude begins to be an issue, so we’ll see.
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.