Denali - Trip Report - Part 12

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Monday, May 19:

Today was our first go-nowhere storm day on the mountain, and we soon realized that it actually was a blessing in disguise that we had spent three "storm days" in Talkeetna, where at least we had roofs, beds, and toilets. We were all kind of depressed, though, because it was our fourth lost day of the trip, and there were only about eight storm days build into our schedule.

I slept in, listening to the flapping of the tent in the wind and the pinpricks of the blown snow on the fly, and when I finally emerged at 9 AM I was again the first one out. It was a raging blizzard, but actually quite warm out. I shoveled out the tents a bit, and the guides, hearing me outside, told me where to find breakfast bars that I could distribute to the individual tents. After this I visited Glenn and his team for a while, used the latrine, and happily snuggled back into my warm sleeping bag in my tent. There I napped and read a little from my book.

It wasn't until noon that the guides got out of their tent, and by 12:30 almost everyone was up and eating lunch and drinking hot cocoa in the cook tent, dodging the blasts of spindrift continually blowing in the door. After a typical lunch we tried to shovel some more, but the wind made this a useless task, since as soon as a shovelful of powder was deposited outside of our compound walls it would just blow right back in. I needed my goggles to keep the blowing snow out of my eyes, and it was just plain miserable out. My feet were warm, at least--we had all started wearing our camp booties encased in our overboots as standard camp footgear, and it was a comfortable, if a bit floppy, combination that kept feet cozy and warm while wading through snowdrifts.

I finally gave up on shoveling and retired to my tent, where I napped, read, wrote in my journal, and had a brief conversation with Glenn through my tent wall when he stopped by to ask a question about the route above. Andy, full of energy as always, eventually started shoveling again once the wind died down by late afternoon, and we all eventually got out and started work on shoring up the walls of our compound. We dug a trench outside the piles of debris we had shoveled up from the inside, and we put more snow blocks around the cook tent. The weather seemed like it was improving, and we were optimistic as we ate dinner in the cook tent that we would be able to move up to 14,300' tomorrow.

Still, it was windy as Bruno and I returned to our tent and crashed out, happy we had done so much shoveling because it made us more tired and thus we fell asleep sooner.

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