Friday, May 15, 1981

1981 - Denali Traverse, South Buttress to West Buttress

I believe it was Don Goodman who conceived of this trip.  I was fortunate enough to join Don, Dave Adams, David Jay and Al McGuire on this climbing trip, my first expedition on a big mountain.  The goal was to retrace the ascent route of the 1954 Thayer expedition on the South Buttress.  They ascended the South Buttress from the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier and descended the Muldrow Glacier.  Our plan was to descend via the West Buttress (the most popular ascent route).

We left in mid-April hoping for more settled albeit colder weather.  My departure was delayed by 3 or 4 days as I had contracted Chicken Pox from my nephew about 2 or 3 weeks earlier and was behind on my preparation.  I missed out on the load hauling between the landing zone and the first camp.  As it turned out, I also missed out on the trudge down the Kahiltna Glacier to Kahiltna Base on the SE Fork as I was flown out from just below Kahiltna Pass on account of my frostbitten toes. 

It was a great trip.  Some good weather and some bad weather but the good weather (moderate temperatures and NO wind) came when we especially needed it on the long traverse of the South Buttress Ridge from our 13,000 foot camp to the 15,000 foot camp at Radio Tower Saddle.  A few tensions in the group but no blood was shed. 

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