Don't forget to click on pics for larger versions, and watch for links to video.
Camp is just stirring this bitterly cold morning. Just went outside the tent for a minute, and realized that we were still shaded by the mountains around us, and a light breeze is blowing. It's a deep, bitter, penetrating cold, probably something like 0 degrees out there.
I can hear the stoves running, and some voices in the posh house, so the guides are probably melting snow for water to be used in our morning ritual of hot drinks and tasty breakfast fixins... good deal, cuz I'm starrrving, and trying to warm up my hands and feet is altogether easier with a hot cider in hand. :-) The plan so far today is to break camp and move back down the glacier for what will probably be some ice climbing training or real-life crevasse rescue training. We'll see.
Just came back from breakfast in the posh house with everyone, and the decision is made: it's to be ice climbing and and fixed line trainings today... cool! I've gotta get a move on, as I'm a little behind on breaking my parts of camp for the move down the glacier.
5:50 pm - Kahiltna base camp
After Tyler and the guides set up the anchor/rope system and tested it, we started into instruction in the proper use of ice screws as anchors, basic ice climbing techniques, wall scaling, rappelling, belaying, and much more. After that, it was fixed lines--the kind one might find on Denali in the distance, or on Everest--and how to travel safely on them. All super SUPER interesting stuff, and I learned a lot. Around 2pm or so, we headed back to the gear we abandoned ont he glacier earlier, hitched up the sleds, and cruised back down to our previous campsite overlooking the south fork of the Kahiltna... it remained unoccupied, so we dug in once again.
I can hear Jason's music--today it's reggae--drifting lazily and almost inaudibly through camp as we all chill out... it's been quite a nice afternoon here.
Having all had a huge meal--complete with an exotic (for glacier food) blueberry crumble made by Jason for dessert--we sat around in the posh house and talked into the evening. Well, Tyler, as usual, did most of the talking (haha) but over the course of this trip, the topic of friends the guides have lost to climbing came up frequently. It came up again tonight when Jason mentioned one of his friends who had died attempting to climb a mountain somewhere. I was really curious how these guys, who seem to have so many friends they've lost are able to deal with it, and how (if at all) it changes the way they climb.
We all had a long and interesting chat, and Tyler filled in a lot of gaps and told may other stories about other people. Seems odd for a 30 year old like Jason to have lost over 10 friends to a sport they're all passionate about. I tried to imagine myself at 30, counting up not just friends but ANYONE I knew that had died at when I was that age, and I could only come up with two or three, tops.