Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Denali Team 1: April 29 to May 19 - Final Dispatch
Guides: Alasdair Turner, Chad Cochran, Aili Farquhar
Climbers: Maria Conceicao (Dubai), Stephen Martin (UK), Christopher Kulish (Colorado), Zlatko Filipovic (Sweden), Steve Bain (Colorado), Christopher Heywood (Oman), Sergey Dmitriev (Russia), Vitaly Simonovich (Russia)
Alasdair called from Talkeetna at 2:00 Pacific time. His team is safely off the glacier and taking a well-earned rest after, as he put it, “the coldest expedition I’ve ever been on.”
“We stayed the night with Mike Pond’s group at 11 Camp before descending the rest of the way to the airstrip… we arrived and got a plane almost immediately. A nice flight out of the range.
“We never got above 14, but in the end I think we made the best moves possible in a game that turned out to be unwinnable. The weather was just too severe. No large parties have summited yet this year, and the only party that may have summited -- it’s not clear yet if they actually reached the summit -- will probably be losing a foot to frostbite.
“The second day after we reached 14 was the crux decision … a classic expedition chess game situation. The weather was holding but the signs were unambiguous … lenticulars forming on all the summits, shifting winds. Other teams were caching at 16 and I felt a lot of pressure to do the same, but we reluctantly decided to fortify the camp instead. Then the next day the weather turned. It stormed for days. Several other parties had cached their food and fuel up high and were left stranded. They began heading down a couple days later. Our decision not to cache bought us 4 more days. In the end, that wasn’t enough, but I feel satisfied that we played our hand well.”
Good work, Team 1.