Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Build Throne at 17,200’

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 06, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

No. I’m afraid there were no royal celebrations of summit success for us today as we began the morning getting up with guarded optimism that the clouds and wind above us would dissipate just enough to allow us to get in a summit bid. But that did not happen, and instead we retreated back to our tents after prolonging our time over breakfast in the Posh.

Unfortunately the clouds descended and eventually we were enveloped in wind and snow that just took some of the energy and motivation we needed to work on camp. So, instead we spent a restful morning in our tents, snug and warm from the elements just beyond the thin nylon fabric we rely so vitally on for our comfort and survival.

What do we actually do during these times while waiting for the weather to improve? Of course, reading, listening to music, playing games all come to mind, but simply catching up on sleep is huge. With winds buffeting our tents during the night, coupled with the excitement and anxiety that affects us all before a possible summit day, we can all use the downtime. In fact, it’s the climber that deals with this forced inactivity well that tends to be the better climber. A capacity for patience is a hallmark of good expedition climbers.

But, I never thought that spending an entire day in the old fart sack helped you out much in terms of adjusting to the altitude, so when we got a nice break in the weather we went out and built the nicest bathroom on the mountain, walled and roofed, and ready for whatever the mountain throws at us. At least we’ll take comfort knowing that, when that inevitable time comes, we’ll be able to answer that call without sheets of wind blown snow covering our clothes and all too vulnerably exposed parts of our anatomy.

As for tomorrow, though the forecast calls for high winds what I’m seeing right now makes me think we have a chance. The winds have calmed and it’s sunny and beautiful, with simply gorgeous views of the Alaska Range from our perch here just below the summit of the tallest peak in North America. 

And now, some closing words from the poet laureate of the arctic, our own Lindsay Mann:

At 17 we stay
Wishing the wind away
Cutting blocks and sawing snow
People see out camp and say wow!
A ceiling for our bathroom was done
To give us privacy from everyone
Stories over dinner we share
cause team morale is still there
Hoping to get the summit
As soon as these winds plummet
But for now we sit tight
And wish for a beautiful night

Good night from Brent Okita, Leon and Lindsay

On The Map

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Brent & Team,

Please ensure this marvelous structure remains intact for the next two weeks.  I hope to get the chance to witness such a fine piece of engineering with my own eyes.

Eric (Beren’s Team)

Posted by: Eric Schafer on 6/6/2012 at 7:47 pm

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