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Winter Denali: Christine Feret off on the first female attempt

Posted: Feb 24, 2010 04:27 pm EST

The expedition kicked off yesterday from Alaska's Talkeetna: Christine Feret and Artur Testov were dropped on Kahiltna Glacier at 6,800 feet. We will slowly go up, pulling all our gear and food (250 pounds) with sleds, Christine told ExplorersWeb before departure. All going well, it should take a minimum of four weeks.

No tents for McKinleys wild season

In winter, there is no BC or ranger service on the peak. The two climbers are not bringing tents. Instead, we will go each day as long as we can and dig snow caves for the rest of the day, Christine told ExWeb. It takes about 4-5 hours to make a good one days will be long!

We are still taking a small tubular tent for safety, but intend to use it only in case of emergency, Christine added.

We are bringing a couple of sharp heavy steel shovels for chopping harder ice, Feret explained. We did it last May at 17,500 and it worked fine. We are carrying a load of 270 pounds that we will split between our packs and sleds.

Ladder for crevasses

Artur is of course taking his ladder for crevasses as well! He will be first and in case he falls, the ladder should hold him before reaching too deep down in the crevasse wich is essential for a quick self-rescue and to prevent frostbite: At -40ºC, we don't have a couple of hours to get out of a crevasse like in summer time.

We hope we will not have feet and feet of snow to push until Windy Corner. There can be so much snow until there in the winter. We will bring the sleds to 14,200 then will use a drag bag at the end of our rope for the Head Wall.

Ready to go

Already familiar with the terrain since she climbed Denali twice last spring, Christine looks forward to get close up and personal with the peak off season: This should be a fun wild adventure!!! I am the first woman to step foot on McKinley in the winter so it sure adds a little extra spice to the ordeal but either way, awesome mountain in extreme environment is exciting enough for me!!!

#Mountaineering #topstory

French Christine Feret digging out a snow cave on Denali last summer.
Image by Artur Testoy courtesy Christine Feret
Christine's partner Artur Testov has a previous winter ascent on Denali.
Image by Christine Feret courtesy Christine Feret
Christine sorting out food in Talkeetna, prior to departure.
Image by Artur Testoy courtesy Christine Feret
Alternative goals nearby: Mt. Hunter.
Image by Christine Feret courtesy Christine Feret