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Permanent Snow

Pictures by QT Luong

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North Face of Mont-Blanc and Dome du Gouter, France. (color) The first important camp, where people gather at a same spot, is found at 11000. Denali, Alaska (color) On the North face of Grande Casse, Vanoise, Alps, France. (color) Camping on the Balcony camp of the West Rib. Denali, Alaska (color) Alpinists on a buttress of Aiguille du Midi climbing the Cosmiques ridge. Alps, France (color) The treacherous Denali Pass, scene of numerous accidents. The descending traverse is somewhat delicate for tired climbers. Moreover some take only ski poles and therefore cannot self-arrest. Denali, Alaska (color) The Bossons glacier, the highest icefall in the Alps. Alps, France (color) Storm clouds approaching. Denali, Alaska (color) Kahilna international airport lies under the North Face of Mt Hunter. Alaska (color) Hiker in the Aiguilles Rouges and Mont-Blanc range, Alps, France. (color) Backcountry skiers dwarfed by Liskam, Switzerland. (color) Party of three on the West Buttress. Denali, Alaska (color) Up to the 14300 camp again. Denali, Alaska (color) Alpinists on the Aiguille du Midi ridge. Alps, France (color) East Face of Mont-Blanc at dawn, Italy. (color) Midnight sunset over Mt Foraker from the West Rib. Denali, Alaska (color) The ridge visible on the skyline is the West Rib, which was my planned itinerary. My companions had settled for the West Buttress, so I would do the second part of the climb solo. Denali, Alaska (color) North side of the Courtes-Verte ridge. Alps, France (color) Seracs below Monte Rosa, Switzerland. (color) The base camp, at 7000 feet, is in the heart of a huge glacier system. Alaska (color) Camp 11000 with a many skis. Denali, Alaska (color) North Face of Mont-Blanc and Dome du Gouter. Alps, France (color) Bivy at the base of Dent du Geant, Mont-Blanc Range, Alps, France. (color) Camping high on the West Rib route. Denali, Alaska (color) Reaching the base camp right at sunrise, after 18 days. Denali, Alaska (color) Waiting out in bad weather. Denali, Alaska (color) Mount Maudit, Mont-Blanc du Tacul and Aiguille du Midi seen from summit of Mont-Blanc, France. (color) South Side of the Argentiere basin with Chardonet Pass between  Aiguille d'Argentiere and the Chardonet. Alps, France (color) The West Rib has 45 degrees inclination, with some steeper mixed parts. This means that unlike the West Buttress, it is a somewhat technical route, where you have to do some sort of climbing, and be careful not to fall. Denali, Alaska (color) Joan Phelps, a blind woman from Anchorage summited a few hours after me, guided by her twin sons Marty and Mike. The most remarkable ascent ofthis year. Denali, Alaska (color) Camp 11000 with a forest of wands. Denali, Alaska (color) The ranger tent. They perform rescues and operate a medical camp, but also give tickets for littering. The two lattrines help keep the snow good for drinking. Denali, Alaska (color) Base of the Central Pilar of Freney, Mont-Blanc, Italy. (color) Alpinists on the  Midi-Plan ridge. Alps, France (color) Climbing the South Face of Dent du Geant, Mont-Blanc Range, Alps, France. (color) Aiguilles de Chamonix, Courtes-Verte ridge, and Grandes Jorasses seen from Aiguille du Midi. Alps, France (color) Being acclimatized thanks to my extended waiting at 14300ft, I skip the 16000 camp, which is occupied by a guided team comming from the bottom of the ridge. Denali, Alaska (color) My last vision of the mountain (through the East Fork of the Kahilna Glacier). Denali, Alaska (color) Probing a circle for crevasses, before unroping. Alaskan glaciers are among the biggest in the world, and have very deep crevasses, which are difficult to spot. Denali, Alaska (color) Looking down at the Jaccoux-Domenech route, Mont-Blanc, Italy. (color) Midnight alpenglow on Mt Hunter, seen from the 14300ft on Mc Kinley. Denali, Alaska (color) Alpinists climb Aiguille du Midi, France. (color) Alpinists go down Aiguille du Midi on a sharp ridge. Alps, France (color) North faces of Les Droites and Les Courtes, seen from the Argentiere Glacier. Alps, France (color) The next day, unlike the other party which is making a round-a-trip summit day and leave their tent, I pack everything, since I plan to traverse the mountain and go down by the West Buttress. Denali, Alaska (color) Back to the 14300 camp, McKinley City. Denali, Alaska (color) Sun setting over Bionnassay ridge, just under the summit of Mont-Blanc, Italy. (color) Fresh snow on the 14300ft camp. Denali, Alaska (color) Snow camping on the Kahilna Glacier. Denali, Alaska (color) Alpinists climb  Aiguille du Midi, France. (color) Alpinists on the Aiguille du Midi ridge. Alps, France (color) South side of the Courtes-Verte ridge seen from the Talefre Basin. Alps, France (color) Across the gully, the last camp spot is visible. Denali, Alaska (color) Fresh snow and sea of clouds on 14300ft camp. Denali, Alaska (color) Traveling down with sleds. Denali, Alaska (color) Looking down from the Red Sentinel route, Mont-Blanc, Italy and France. (color) The mighty West face of Mc Kinley. The West Buttress is the ridge on the left on the skyline, the Cassin the ridge on the right. Denali, Alaska (color) Alpinists on a pinacle of Aiguille du Midi after climbing the South Face. Alps, France (color) Alpinists climb Aiguille du Midi, France. (color) The Balcony camp on the West Rib really deserves its name. Panoramic view over 180 degrees. Denali, Alaska (color) The day when we arrived, the weather was great, and there is a large numbers of climbers going for it. Denali, Alaska (color) To the 11000 camp, where I retrieved my gear. Denali, Alaska (color) Climbers on the rocky part of the Brenva Spur, Mont-Blanc, Italy. (color) Our first carry day, up to the 14300 camp.. Denali, Alaska (color) Cosmiques ridge, Tacul and Mont-Blanc. Alps, France (color) Climbers Frank and Alain start the Super-Couloir on Mt Blanc du Tacul, Mont-Blanc Range, Alps, France. (color) The three tracks starting from the 14300 camp are very visible: to Windy Corner, the West Buttress, and the West Rib (although these were only my tracks). The 14300 camp would soon be in the shade. Denali, Alaska (color) I leave by myself the camp for a summit attempt, taking a cut-off to the West Rib. The West Buttress route goes to the pass, through the steep wall, and is quite crowded. Denali, Alaska (color) The deserted 11000 camp. Denali, Alaska (color) Cornice on the Kuffner ridge of Mt Maudit, Italy and France. (color) Camp on close to Kahilna Pass. Denali, Alaska (color) Being late on my schedule, due to the unexpected effect of altitude, I am lucky to find a ledge large enough for my Stephenson tent. Denali, Alaska (color) The low-profile tents have to be protected against the wind (which can reach 100mph). Climbers dig a hole and built thick snow-walls by sawing off large chunks of frozen snow. Denali, Alaska (color) Vallot hut  emergency shelter, Mont-Blanc, France. (color) Our first carry day, back to 11000 camp. Denali, Alaska (color) The North Summit was reached by the Sourdough at the turn of the century in a one-day push, an incredible feat. Unfortunately for them, i t is slightly lower than the true (South) Summit. Denali, Alaska (color) This time, I had to painfully break the trail, which was swept by the recent storm. It is hard work when you are by yourself. Denali, Alaska (color) Eccles shelter at the base of the Freney Pillars, Mont-Blanc, Italy. (color) Everything which is left is buried under the snow, to prevent the ravens from destroying your cache. They can rip open a backpack if you don't bury it deep enough. Denali, Alaska (color) Storm clouds approaching. Denali, Alaska (color) The camp 17000 is quite exposed to the winds. Denali, Alaska (color) Remains of a tent which burned years ago from stove flare-up. Denali, Alaska (color) Serac system at the top of the Brenva Spur, Mont-Blanc, Italy. (color) Exceptionnally warm conditions at Windy Corner. Denali, Alaska (color) Storm clouds approaching. Denali, Alaska (color) The West Buttress is easy but very airy. You cannot travel it if there are high winds. Denali, Alaska (color) A view from the summit of Mt McKinley. Denali, Alaska (color) West face of Mont-Blanc photographed from a commercial airplane, Italy and France. (color) Taking a break from pulling the sled. Denali, Alaska (color) The temperatures during the day were pleasant, but within fifteen minutes after the sun has disappeared, they would drop down to subzero (F). This was a warm year, with minimum temperatures of -20F.. Denali, Alaska (color) Traveling down with sleds. Denali, Alaska (color) Junction with the West Buttress route (see the numerous crampon marks) on the summit plateau. Denali, Alaska (color) Snow ridge on the Brenva Spur, Mont-Blanc, Italy. (color) At the 16000 narrow camp on the Rib, there is just another party. Denali, Alaska (color) Hauling heavy loads on the Kahilna Glacier,  including mostly food and fuel for three weeks and polar-grade gear. Denali, Alaska (color) The camp 17000, the last camp on West Buttress. Denali, Alaska (color) Summit ridge of Mont-Blanc and Bosses ridge with climber's trail in the snow, France and Italy. (color) Summit ridge of Mt McKinley. Denali, Alaska (color) To find your cache, you leave a wand, and you write your name on a sticker. Denali, Alaska (color) At begining June, there is no more night at these latitudes, just a very pure lingering light. Denali, Alaska (color)
First 100 pictures of Permanent Snow are on this page