Monday, June 16

Denali - Day 0

This is the trip report for Denali: I'll start this now although I don't have the photos yet. I'll use whatever I find on the interwebs (with links of course) and replace them as I get photos. I'll skip the landing in Anchorage, the day spent in Anchorage buying food stuffs and gear, and the time spent travelling to Talkeetna.

We start our journey in Talkeetna, at the National Parks Service Ranger Station. We went to tell the rangers that we'd arrived, and to get briefed on the route. Long story short, you can camp anywhere on the route but there are established camps throughout. Established camps have the advantage of (hopefully) being probed for crevasses, and/or other reduced objective hazards such as avalanche, serac and rock falls, and, of course, human companionship. Americans measure everything in feet, so by the end of the trip I had become accustomed to using feet as well - I have to admit though, it's still a pain! Anyway, the camps and my notes are as follows:

1. Base Camp - 2200m
* equipped with pee latrine and landing strip
* base camp manager (NPS ranger) present - her name is Lisa, she's very very nice!
* sleds and fuel to be collected from here
* cache food for 4-5 days in case of bad weather

2. Camp 1 - 2400m (7000 feet) - Base of Ski Hill

3. Camp 2 - 3000m
* do not camp on shoulder after 2900m - too much wind

4. Camp 3 - 3500m (11000 feet)
* camp away from the ice fall but not too close to the rock face (rocks fall if too hot outside)
* need to wand towards rock face
* throw faeces in crevasse
* squirrel point (called so because in the 90s there was a squirrel living here from the caches at windy corner): do not attempt to rig your sled RIGHT here as there's a very good chance that you will drop it (either off squirrel point or off motorcycle hill - and it will not be found!) -- the ranger then told us of this guy who tried to re-rig his sled - loose it, try to jump on it to arrest fall and then fall with it to his death. Oh joy.
* cache food for the way back

5. Camp 4 - 4400m (14000 feet) - Advance Base Camp

6. Camp 5 - 5200m (17000 feet) - High Camp

* travel roped from the start to the end
* don't lose the CMCs - use CMC throughout (A CMC is a plastic can for storing solid faeces): throw faeces in crevasses if present, otherwise bring down (the mountain beyond 4500m is crevasse free)

Talkeetna is a wonderful little village with nothing much to do. It has a mountain gear shop that stores some basic gear for Denali, and a grocery store (Nagley's) that has some food in case of emergency (no toilet paper though). The mayor of Talkeetna is a ginger cat called Stubbs, and he hangs out around Nagley's. There are roughly six bars/pubs/coffeeshops in Talkeetna, and three have wifi. The best breakfast is at the Roadhouse (order the half standard, please!) and the best coffee is at Conscious Coffee (you will find out why I know).

Our flying company was Talkeenta Air Taxi - they are THE best company in Talkeetna. They even have a free bunkhouse that climbers can use while they wait for their flight. Rocking!

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