Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Back from Alaska
Winter camping in June: There's nothing like it. Temps at night reached, at the lowest, 5 above 0, and the mercury rose at midday to 50 F and more. It was a jungle, without insects, while the snow and ice beneath our tent was estimated to be 4500 feet thick (yep, nearly a mile). Almost everyone who climbs Denali gets off an airplane that landed on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier at about 7300 feet elevation--a few feet from the ranger tent where I was working (and sometimes just relaxing). They also almost all leave the mountain there, except for two young Japanese climbers who, this year, disappeared and failed to reappear after ten days of intensive searching--bringing the historical total to 100 dead on Denali. But two others were found, and, with other patients, I had a chance to splint arms, patch wounds, inspect and pontificate on frostbite, melt a ton of snow for water, and wax poetical on what is absolutely one of the most beautiful spots on this planet. Not a bad summer vacation.