On our second to last day on the mountain (day 17), we moved down from Camp 4 (14,200 feet) to Camp 1 (7,800 feet). Camp 1 is at the base of Ski Hill and is on the lower portion of the Kahiltna glacier. On our way up, we didn’t stay the night at Camp 1 having stopped at 3/4 camp on the lower Kahiltna glacier. We arrived at Camp 1 around 8:00 pm. We knew we would be getting up very, very early the next morning to take advantage of the cold overnight temperatures that we hoped would freeze the lower portion of the Kahiltna glacier for our descent to base camp. So the team decided not to set up tents for our last night on the mountain. Instead, we would lay out our closed cell foam pads on the snow, our therm-a-rest pads on top of our cell foam pads and sleep in our sleeping bags under the stars. We also hoped there wouldn’t be any overnight snow too. This would save us a few hours of set up time before bed and tear down time after we woke up. All that led to more sleep. We ended up going to bed around 10:30 pm and waking up at 1:30 am. After breakfast and packing up, we were on the glacier moving down to base camp by 3:30 am.
Here are some pictures of that last evening under the stars with Shelley giving her best pin-up pose. She said these reminded her of that old Henry Weinhard beer commercials with the guys on the Oregon beach checking out the “hotties” walking up the beach.
It was actually quite warm inside the bags. The outside temperature was 15 – 20 degrees with no wind when we finally went to bed. We slept in everything you see in these photos with the exception of our outer boot shells. I didn’t even need to wear gloves. However, the hat was a must. Luckily, it didn’t snow over night.