Denali Climb and Training

WMS 2012 Trip Report

Well its been quite a while since I’ve updated anything on here and some questions on if I was alive have come up from some of my close family since they haven’t seen me blog anything.  I haven’t fallen off the side of a mountain or the top for that matter and I haven’t been crushed by a killer WOD yet.  I’ve been quite busy with both climbing and crossfit lately and haven’t really had a chance to sit down enough to gather some thoughts and post them on here.  I’ll recount the past few weeks as they’ve been a blur of activity.

I attended ADKs Winter School 2012 Advanced section Saturday January 28th – Thursday February 16th in the Seward range in the Adirondacks.  I had a great time and there was even a decent amount of snow.  We spent five nights out and moved camp once to be closer to a climbing objective.  The hike in was quite tough with the 85lb pack that I was carrying for just under 9 miles.  This was about half of my bodyweight on my back so it was a bit awkward moving around with that monster strapped to my back. We made good time though and were able to setup camp before nightfall on Saturday.

Going heavy (85 lb) for 9 miles.

On Sunday we climbed Seymour (4120) as soon as we gained some elevation we had a decent amount of snow and the temperatures were decent enough and in the 20s. I lead our group of seven most of the way up and broke trail in a couple of blown over places but the heard path was quite visible and we only lost it once or twice near the summit. Upon reaching the summit t we were in a cloud so there were no views and the temps had dropped a bit so we spent a few minutes up there and headed down and back to our campsite near the blueberry lean-to.  We went over our day and decided to attempt Sawteeth #4 the next day.

Sawteeth #4 is not a high peak but it is over 3000 feet and there eis no trail to the summit so it would be a bushwhack almost the entire way up and it would give us a chance to practice navigation using a map and compass.  I was elected trip leader that day and we planned to leave at 8am from our campsite.  I lead the group though some very dense forest and up several steep ledges but we were unable to make the summit as our progress was slow due to the deep snow and thick brush.  We had set a turnaround time of 3PM and once we reached that we decided to call it a day and head back to our camp.  The way out we moved fairly quickly as we were able to follow our own trail and made it back to camp before dark.

Tuesday we moved our camp to be closer to our next objective of climbing the Seward Range mountains of Donaldson (4140), Emmons (4040) and Seward (4361).   The move went well, it was much easier than the hike in because of the reduced mileage and weight from consumption of half of the food I had carried in. We had a somewhat more relaxed day and had a decent camp setup for our new base of operations.

Wednesday morning we got an alpine start and left just as it was getting light around 7am.  We quickly made it to the cutoff for the heard path up Donaldson.  From there I took the lead and broke trail about ¾ of the way up Donaldson, where I happily gave over trail breaking duty to one of the other team members as I was starting to get pretty warm. The conditions were pretty awful, 33 degrees and raining the entire day.  I was very hot on the initial ascent from breaking trail and my Gore-Tex jacket wasn’t breathing particularly well in this weather so I ended up sweating quite a bit more than I typically do.  Once we reached the ridge and then the summit of Donaldson I cooled down and was able to get more comfortable and even had to put on another layer to stay warm.  We were unable to find the actual summit marker for Donaldson but seeing as it’s on the trail we definitely reached it.  We decided to go for Emmons next as it was a shorter distance than Seward.  We traversed the ridge and it got quite cold from the strong winds, even though it continued to rain.  The trail was lost several times but we picked it up within a few minutes.  The going was very slow though and the trail was all unbroken.  We finally reached the summit for Emmons around 1PM.  We decided that there wasn’t enough time to make the traverse back over to Donaldson and then to climb Seward at this point.  We traversed the ride back to Donaldson on our own tracks and then descended the way we came.  On the way out there was a dicey stream crossing due to the rising water from the rain and a good amount of ice had melted. I was able to make it across without a problem but we had a few close calls and wet boots from other team members.

Thursday morning we packed up camp and hiked out back to the car. Most of the snow had melted at our elevation from the rain the previous day and there were quite a few bare spots but the trail was packed enough we were able to hike out with just microspikes.

Overall I’d say the course was a great success and I had an amazing time.  I was able to keep my diet paleo the entire time even though the cost was a bit more weight in food than I would typically bring. I think I could bring this down if I planned my meals ahead of time rather than at the last minute that I did.


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