May 26, 2014
IMG Lead Guide Erica Engle called in last night at 4:30pm. They were on the summit ridge at about 16,000 feet, 400 feet short of the summit. The guides made the decision to turn back at that point. They hit their turn around time, lenticular clouds were forming around the summit and winds were at 25 mph. Temperature was an estimated 0 degrees F. Time to turn back! Erica reported that the team did an excellent job all day, were climbing strong and feeling good. They called in again two hours later from Josh McDowell’s cell phone. He was able to pick up cell coverage briefly from the nearest cell tower at Glenallen. The guides said all were doing well and they were nearing camp. Time for hot drinks and a well-deserved rest! The team will take the next two days to descend the route back to their pickup point.
Is the team disappointed in not being able to physically stand on the summit of Mt. Bona? I doubt it from the sounds of their voices over the radio. In such a remote region of Alaska, on a glacier that has been rarely climbed, to piece together a safe route up the mountain and then finish with a strong team summit attempt, in my book is a resounding success. I’m proud of them for sticking to their plan, weighing the variables and keeping a good margin.