Denali, Day 8: Move to Genet Basin, 14,000'


Saturday, May 16

Day 1 Travel to Talkeetna, AK
Day 2 Fly to Base on glacier, ski to 7700'
Day 3 Tent bound
Day 4 7700 to 9450'
Day 5 Place cache at 11,200'
Day 6 Move to 11,200'
Day 7 Place cache at 13,500'
Day 8 Move to Genet basin, 14.000'
Day 9 Back-carry cache to 14,000'
Day 10 Summit attempt
Day 11 Return to Base
Day 12 Fly out

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window


  • Day 2 of doublecarry, 2.5 miles, 3000', 5 1/4 hours
  • Camp at 14,000'

Plan was:

  • Day 2 of doublecarry, 2.5 miles, 3000', 6-7 hours

For some reason, we got a really late start out of camp; it was almost 12:30. However, this seems to be pretty normal around here. We see people rolling into camp at 6, 7, or even 8pm. After all, it doesn't get dark. Period. I found that I could read in the tent until about 11:30 (even though I should be asleep resting for the following day).

But back to the story.

As usual, we skipped lunch in favor of getting on the route. We put Tom, our most experienced climber, in the lead to set the pace and minimize the damage to his feet. Even though he was taking it easy, he was still faster than most; we caught up with a group before we had even started Motorcycle Hill.


So we dragged along behind those guys, because Tom rightly believed that leaving the trail would expose us to increased crevasse fall danger.

And it was hot. I had anticipated this, and had stripped down to just a light layer. Tommy and Bro were overdressed, and suffering. But you can't easily change clothes when you're rigged and tied in with your pack on. So Tommy, Bro, and I were back-seat driving and antsy to pass. This didn't help Tom's mood.

When we got to the top of the hill, we still needed to rest, strip, and eat. Tom was unhappy that we took off without eating, but we got off ahead of the slower group and were able to walk our own pace.

As we made our way up Squirrel Hill, we had some communication problems and some yelling at each other. Tom thought we were criticizing, but at a break I explained that I was trying to tell him what was happening behind our 200' rope. Our iPods made it hard to hear and contributed to the misunderstandings.
Lunch stop looking toward MackayTom Lopez photo

Also, Tom's foot was hurting him. Tommy and I each took some of his load- not that he couldn't carry it, but we were trying to baby his foot.


Lunch stop looking toward Mackay

I'd like to say it wasn't long before we made it to Windy Corner, but it was.

Note that this is difficult terrain in which to pull a sled. More on this when we return through here.

Lunch stop looking toward MackayTom Lopez photo
And then we rounded the corner and could once again see into Genet Basin. Lunch stop looking toward Mackay

From Windy Corner, you can see way down the Kahiltna. The glacier extends about 25 miles.

Lunch stop looking toward Mackay

In this zoomed-in shot, you can see the lower trail, and even some camp sites. Click for a larger version.

As Tom pointed out, the gain from the glacier below is the same required to get from here to the summit. Yikes!

Lunch stop looking toward Mackay
When we got into the camp area at 14k, there was not a single snow wall available. Lunch stop looking toward Mackay

It was 5:45 and we were really tired. REALLY tired. This is when you have to be tough; you've had a long day and you're missing some oxygen. But you know that the sun is going to go down in a couple of hours, dropping the temperature in a big way.

Setting up camp was a hard two-hour endeavor, but we got the tents up, a good snow wall built, and water on the stoves by about 8:30. We had gotten dehydrated earlier in the day, so waiting until this late for water was miserable. We were all absolutely whipped. This was NOT how we wanted to start our stay at 14k.

Then the sun went behind the buttress and the temperature dropped about 50 or 60 degrees in 10 minutes.

Genet Basin is absolutely gorgeous, but I will not really appreciate it until tomorrow.

Lunch stop looking toward Mackay

Mr. Natural Home | 2009 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski