Day 11: Cache at 16,000ft

Today started our a little rocky. Jay woke up feeling better, so the decided to head out early to cache gear a at around 16,200ft. Unfortunately, they had a false start. They left fairly early, and it was extremely cold. They turned back to the tent feeling defeated.

Thankfully, the rallied! After some rest, some food, and warming up a bit (as much as you can warm up in negative temperatures) they set out to cache gear in the warmer afternoon weather.

To do this, they had to travel up the steep and dangerous Headwall, gaining about 2,000 feet over 1 mile. This area is so steep that the park services puts in “fixed lines” for climbers to use as the go up. These are ropes that are attached to the wall with ice and snow screws. Climbers then attach themselves to the rope for protection using gear they brought with them. The park regularly has to go adjust these as the season goes on, because the screws will start to pull out as layers of snow/ice melt.

After caching gear, they then descended back to 14,200 foot camp. They will likely take another rest day before moving to High Camp at 17,200 feet. Once you reach High Camp, ideally you summit and then descend as quickly as possible. This is because the stress on your body is much higher, and the weather at the high levels can be much colder and more unpredictable.

This shows 14,000 Camp and High Camp. The little “message” square in between them is where they cached gear, after the steep wall.
2018 photo looking down the Headwall. You can see the camp off to the right.
2018 photo of the Bergschrund* at the base of the headwall, the bottom of the fixed lines.
*A bergschrund is a crevasse that forms where moving glacier ice separates from the stagnant ice or fin above.

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