"NOVA 14,200, this is 17,200." The call finally came through. "The weather shut us down at Denali Pass when the sun set and it was too cold so we turned around."
After 16 hours of no communication from our team at High Camp, we finally were able to make contact. By radio, Ranger Roger Robinson was able to get in touch with a climber at 17,200 feet, who found Colby Coombs and the rest of the team in their tents. They were resting after a long night of climbing, then turning around before reaching the summit. Having left camp at 9:30 p.m., the team climbed until midnight, when they reached Denali Pass at 18,200 feet. After half an hour of putting on warm clothing to protect them from increased winds and clouds, the team decided to return to camp. It was 3:00 a.m. before they reached the safety of their tents. Last night, all climbers on the mountain who were attempting the summit were stopped short of their goal.
Coombs reported that he had to put in more snow protection (pickets and anchors for the team to rope into) than ever before on this route due to wind slabs—slabs of loose snow blown by the wind that can knock you off your feet.
Morale was high last night. The team knows they still have enough food and fuel to make another attempt. We remain in whiteout conditions down at 14,200 feet, awaiting a break in the storm systems.
Location: High Camp
Altitude: 17,200 feet
Air Temp: -35°F
Windspeed: 20 mph, gusting to 40