Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Higher Than Most

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon | July 14, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

July 13, 2014 - 10:58 pm PT

Yesterday was a tough climb to reach high camp at 17,200 ft.  Bad weather at the start of the day caused us to get on the trail later than we’d have liked and a couple inches of new snow on the route made the steep pitches a little more exhausting than they might otherwise be.  Even so, with heavy packs and tired legs, we were thrilled to balance along on the crest of the West Buttress, enjoying an endless sunset of golden light.  We pulled into camp at 9 PM, just as the sun got tangled in thick cloud.  It was a scramble to build camp and get stoves going before the real cold took hold.  We ran stoves until 2:30 AM in order to have enough water.  As we worked hard to get dug in, we watched a team of two guides and one climber make a late descent of the “Autobahn”.  They’d managed to thread the needle and hit the summit and as they neared camp, the weather came in again with clouds and wind.  Our tents stood up to a few good gusts in the night and the usual blowing snow but as tired as we were, it didn’t keep us awake.  Morning was calm and easy where we were but too windy and mean up above, so we finished getting our camp in order and took it easy instead of climbing.  The team of three has descended now and we are left alone in our quest… Likely the highest people in North America, even as we simply sit in camp on what has become a beautiful evening.  If the good weather lasts until morning, we’ll know how to use it.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

16,500' on the West Buttress, Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection

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