July 2, 2011
Spoke with Greg Vernovage this afternoon, the 2nd, by sat phone. The group had a serious carry yesterday to Washburn’s Thumb, well up on the West Buttress. Another big milestone. They cached gear for their summit attempt there, at around 16,500 ft. Then, it was back down to 14,000 ft. Today was a rest day at 14K. They visited with several IMG guides who are also working with AMS on Denali. Mike Hamill and his one climber had summited the day before as had guides Aaron Mainer and Ty Gimenez and their one climber. Nice. Peter Anderson was leading a regular AMS West Buttress trip and he had also been to the summit the day before. Nice little get together and nice to see everyone so successful.
Washburn's Thumb. (Photo by Michael Bellamy)
Weather is a big ‘iffy’ right now. But, 14K is the absolute right place to be when waiting out some marginal weather. When you think about it, Denali is basically a week long approach and a 3 day climb. Greg’s team is in the perfect position. They’ve done the approach and they’ve made their carry up high. Now they wait for a break in the weather. When it clears, they need 1 day of good weather to get to high camp and another to summit. So now they wait patiently and pick their shot. The carry to Washburn’s Thumb is a tough day but everyone is doing well and still in the game. As Calvin Coolidge famously said, “persistence and determination are omnipotent”. The team needs a bit of both now and a bit of luck with the weather.
We’ll keep you posted.