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Crofton Community Leader Attacks Denali

Denali 5.22.08GLACIER TRAVEL

Many thanks to Crofton’s Karen Huseonica for her update on Art and the Denali Ice-Agers expedition as they moved to Camp 1 at 7,800,’ a distance of over five miles after landing on the glacier.  It follows, with minor editing –

The team took advantage of good weather and bypassed base camp to head for Camp 1 with heavily laden backpacks and sleds.  The team temporarily lost elevation down the aptly named “Heartbreak Hill” to approximately 6800’ on the main branch of the Kahiltna Glacier. The “Lower Kahiltna”, as it is called, is home to some of the largest crevasses on Denali and the climbers’ route changes drastically throughout the climb.

Crevasses constantly open and close, creating sometimes tedious navigation through the glacier by the guides from the American Alpine Institute – Joseph Anderson, Alasdair Turner, and Jeremy Ellison.

Three factors make climbing Denali a unique challenge. One is that Denali is constantly hammered by severe storms coming off the Bering Sea. Making climbing even more difficult is the extreme cold; cold that is only found outside of Antarctica. Even Mount Everest is not as cold as a typical day on Denali.

Lastly, because of its high latitude near the Artic Circle, the barometric pressure is lower than at comparable altitudes nearer the equator. Denali’s summit at 20,320’ (6,194m) is equivalent to almost 23,000’ in the Himalaya Range in Asia. Contributing to this is the fact that Denali’s bulk and rise are greater than Mount Everest.

Although Everest is 9,000’ higher than Denali when measured from sea level, its base sites on the Tibetan Plateau at almost 17,000’ (3,700m). By comparison, Denali sits on a 2,000’ plateau, giving it a vertical rise of 18,000’ (5,500m). The result is a lengthy expedition with an increased risk of altitude sickness and frostbite.

Thanks again, Karen, for keeping Crofton in the loop about Art’s amazing adventure.

 

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