Denali Update 4 of 6: Weathering the Storm

In 6. Denali, North America, Project 7in4by Steve

Denali Day 11, 31-Mar-2018: All Good Things Must Come to an End

What’s the saying? All good things must come to an end? Why is that? Why can’t good things keep on going?

Anyway, our run of good weather has definitely come to an end. The wind started last night and continued all day today. We went outside briefly to strengthen our perimeter walls, our only protection from the wind. It was a complete white out and pretty miserable. Other than that we were tent bound all day.

We are all doing well and as comfortable as you can be in the circumstances. We are just sitting and waiting for the weather to improve, which looks like it may take a while. This will be a real test of patience.

My phone battery is almost dead so I’m switching it off to conserve the little power I do have. It means these updates will be less frequent but don’t be alarmed, apart from a low battery all is well. The GPS tracker will still be operational so you can follow our location.

Denali Day 12, 01-Apr-2018: Easter in a Tent (but no Easter Eggs)

Happy Easter Everyone! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

Here’s a tip for young players. The GoPro charging cable also fits the Samsung S8 so I can charge my phone again and post updates. Unfortunately for you that means you have to put up with my daily dribble.

The winds have been raging for +48hrs now with frequent intense gusts and no sign of abating. We’ve been taking a real battering. Even behind a 5ft wall our tent still shakes violently in the gusts. Each time all the frozen condensation on the inside comes raining down. It’s a real joy. And to make it even more interesting, we’ve had about 2ft of snow collect on our tents with spindrift blown everywhere. On the plus side, overcast conditions has meant it’s been warmer with last night only dropping to a balmy -11degC in the tent.

Needless to say, we’ve been tent bound again today. Around midday our snow block protection wall took some damage in one of the particularly strong gusts so we had to go outside and fix that which took about an hour. For the other 23hrs we haven’t left the tent.

How do we pass time? Well last night was movie night, the Bourne Supremacy. We then nodded off around 23:00 and slept on and off for about 12hrs. Breakfast turned into lunch, followed by a bit of housekeeping to clean all the snow and condensation from the inside of the tent. We then braved the outside conditions for some wall fixing then 21 games of Connect 4 saw us through to dinner time. And for the record, it’s 15:6 to me (Jon is losing his edge). We’ve just had a bowl of macaroni and cheese with ham and salami and contemplating another movie. In the lulls in the wind, we can hear Chris and Rob enjoying themselves in the adjacent tent.

Looking at the forecast, tomorrow is going to be about as exciting as today so don’t expect much movement on the tracker.

Denali Day 13, 02-Apr-2018: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Well, it’s all come down to this. The next 24hrs will go a long way to determining the outcome of Project 7in4. Yes we still have Everest to go but we always knew Denali was the crux of the entire project and it is proving to be exactly that.

Denali is a big, cold, remote mountain. Being early spring and out of season the four of us are the only ones here. It is a true expedition. A serious undertaking by anyone’s standards.

Our first week on Denali was spectacular but the past 3 days has been more like what we were expecting (and fearing) from this beast.

For the past three days we have been pinned down at 14k Camp and battered with unrelenting winds. Last night was the worst of the lot. I lay awake all night listening to our tent strain and vibrate violently in the wind. Between each gust it would go silent and you could hear the winds raging on the ridge above, then brace for the next gust to hit us. Our protection walls needed a bit more TLC today but otherwise everything has fared pretty well.

Back to tomorrow. The forecast for the foreseeable future is predicting continuing high winds. We don’t have enough food to sit and wait indefinitely. However, there is a small lull from tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon through to early Wednesday morning which presents a very narrow window for a summit attempt. It is marginal at best, but it’s our only shot.

As the window is so small, we are going to skip high camp and attempt it in a single push from 14k Camp where we are now. It will be a very long, tough day but as I said, it’s our only chance. As always, it will be safety first though so if we get up there and it is just not happening for us then we will turn back.

We will receive one last forecast in the morning but our plan is to leave around 08:00, hopefully be on the summit around 18:00 and descend in the evening. You can follow our progress live on this tracker.

“Go with the decision that will make for a great story.”