May 14, 2012
The days are getting longer in Alaska as the summer approaches. There are only a few hours where the sun is totally gone making the temperatures drop at night or when the sun disappears behind the surrounding mountains. Each morning, we tried to wait until the sun was on our tent before getting ready as it was much more comfortable. Getting packed up, boiling 4-6 litres of water and eating takes time and with the sun out it makes it more enjoyable. After packing and leaving a cache in base camp we headed down Heartbreak Hill towards the main Kahiltna Glacier. In this section there are a lot of snow covered crevasses so it was important to travel roped together especially when the sun started softening the snow. The trek to camp 1 (7,800 feet/2,400 meters at the base of Ski Hill) took us about 6 hours. It was a long trek carrying all our gear on our backs and in a sleigh behind us. The trek was uphill after Heartbreak Hill but not very steep, however it was long and we were glad to stop and camp for the night.
May 15, 2012
We were feeling good so we decided to try to carry all our gear up to camp 2. It ended up being a lot harder and longer than we expected. After the climb up Ski Hill, we continued up several other long hills arrived at camp 2 (11,000ft/3,400m) after a 8 hour climb. Building our camp, we had to melt the water in the cold as the sun went behind the mountain just as we got the tent up.
May 16, 2012
Camp 2 is located at the base of Motorcycle hill. It received its name because there are motorcycle competitions to climb hills of a similar angle. We were tired after the climb to camp 2 so decided to rest for a day. It was fun to have a rest day. We built a snug campsite surrounded walls of snow blocks and a small cooking area.
May 17, 2012
We woke with the sun hitting our tent around 0900. After our rest day, we were feeling good. Since we had a lot of equipment, we decided to carrie half of it to just past windy corner. We packed everything that we would need for Basin Camp and high camp (mostly our big down clothing, food for about a week and fuel). We took one sleigh and packed our bags full.
The first part of the climb was up motorcycle hill. It was steep and tiring but we made it to the apex. From there the trail turns north and continues up to Squirrel Point. This is where in 1993 there was a sighting of a red squirrel. There was small bits of crumbs from climber eating chocolate bars or other energy items that the squirrel must have been able to survive. The climb continues up to a plateau at Windy Corner. It was icy in places along the way as the wind can get up to 100-160km/hr at times at Windy Corner. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful and there was hardly any wind at all when we arrived at the Corner. Around the corner is a traverse where the path is at times only a boot wide. Thankfully it is not a long section and after crossing several small crevasses, we arrived at the cache location (13,500ft/4,100m).
After digging a hole large enough to hold our bag, we covered it with snow and marked it with wands. Then, we headed back to camp 2 for the night.