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Leaving Lava Tower
Day six. I could feel the summit getting close! Today was the very very short climb to the Arrow Glacier campsite, and that night at midnight we were to strike out for the summit. I slept well the previous night, and, although I could definitely feel the altitude, in the back of my mind I was becoming fairly sure that no major obstacles stood between me and the summit. After studying the Western Breach for two days, I didn't think there would be any major difficulties technically.

Video: Pu's morning acclimatization update
Another in the series on how Pu's acclimatization is coming along. Taken on the morning of the 6th day of climbing, at Lava Tower campsite. (1 minute, 3 seconds)
We all awaited the 8:05am warming of the campground (that was the exact moment that the sun would start shining directly on our campsite). Another typically tasty breakfast (I can't believe all the fresh fruit at 15,200 feet!). Before 9am we were on our way. It was less than 1.5km from Lava Tower to Arrow Glacier Campsite, and less than 1000 feet of vertical.
Video: Another Breakfast at Lava Tower
Morning and breakfast scenes from our 6h day of climbing. Taken at the Lava Tower campsite. (1 minute, 34 seconds)
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
Smooth track to the Arrow Glacier
Luckas, assistant guide extraordinaire
Glacier fragment
It took us almost two hours to cover the measly 1.3 km distance. The hike up was almost entirely on a good but steep gravel path. Towards the top it traversed some glacial moraines and then topped out at a fairly large flat area immediately below the western breach. This flat area was the Arrow Glacier Campsite. There was no glacier right at the campsite anymore, and I peered about on the slope, looking for any sign of remaining bits of glacier. In the deepest nooks and crannies on the cliffs surrounding the breach and above our campsite, I did see a few bits of glacial ice. These must have been all that was left of the Arrow Glacier.
Video: The Climb to Arrow Glacier Camp
A video overview of the short but steep climb from Lava Tower to the Arrow Glacier Camp. Taken on the 6th day of climbing. (1 minute, 43 seconds)
courtesy PChen
Lava Tower from a distance
Halfway to Arrow Glacier
Climbers in silhouette
courtesy CDoucet
Pu nears Arrow Glacier Camp
Peter ascends into the Alpine
Porters heading up to Arrow Glacier Camp
Video: The Arrow Glacier Camp
A video overview of our highest and final camp before the summit: The Arrow Glacier Camp. (2 minutes, 38 seconds)
Well, another personal altitude record reached : 16,100 feet. Higher than any mountain the lower 48 states and the 10 provinces of Canada; Higher than any mountain in Europe. The campsite was completely devoid of vegetation, and there was a light dusting of snow at its far end. Otherwise, it was gravel and boulders. There were many good flat spots for pitching tents. I saw no sign of the Arrow Glacier 'hut'. I've seen pictures of a ruined shelter in the past -- perhaps they've finally totally dismantled it.
courtesy PChen
Arrow Glacier Campsite
Andrew at Arrow Glacier campsite
Looking downhill at the Arrow Glacier Campsite.
I felt about as good here as I did at Lava Tower. A very slight malaise, but otherwise, that's it -- and I was grateful. Everybody else also seemed to be doing reasonably well, although it was impossible to tell what each person was really feeling. The porters and guides all seemed to be going alright -- Chombo certainly seemed to be having no problems.
Tent and Loo above the clouds
Black and White drama
Campground and Western Breach
We have lunch, and afterwards Chombo gives us an early debrief. We were going to have dinner early, then hit the sack as soon as possible. We were getting up at 11pm, and were getting started on our climb at midnight sharp. Given that our average climbing pace was pretty slow, I could see why Chombo wanted to get started early. We had over 3,000 feet of climbing to do, and at very high altitude.
Video: Chombo's Briefing
Chombo gives us a final briefing, talking to us about summit day, what we should do, and what we should expect. Taken at the Arrow Glacier campsite. (3 minutes, 10 seconds)
courtesy CDoucet
View from Arrow Glacier Camp
Chombo debriefs for the upcoming climb
As Chombo was giving his debriefing speech, the afternoon clouds parted, and we were treated to a spectacular view of the western breach, wreathed in mist. Chombo pointed out our route to us, and it looked reasonable and not too snowy.
Western Breach, annotated
We were treated to an early dinner at 4pm so we could get to sleep early and get as much rest in as possible before the 11pm wakeup call. The meal was hearty and tasty as usual. Peter filmed everyone's last thoughts before summit day, and then we all retired to our tents for a short 5 hours of sleep. This was it! The culmination of all the planning was at hand.
Video: The Last Supper
A video clip of our final supper before heading off to an early sleep before summit day. (1 minute, 47 seconds)
Video: Peter's Final Thoughts
A final monologue from Peter before summit day. (1 minute, 47 seconds)
Analysis, Day 6 : Lava Tower to Arrow Glacier
  Start End Delta
Time 8:51 AM 10:40 PM 1h 49m
Altitude 15,200 feet 16,100 feet +900 feet
Distance 18.0 km 19.3 km +1.3 km

Average Speed (including all stops) 0.7 km/hr
Day 6 - Lava Tower to Arrow Glacier
Elevation Profile over Distance
Day 6 - Lava Tower to Arrow Glacier
Elevation Profile over Time
Day 6 - Lava Tower to Arrow Glacier Map
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Day 6 - Lava Tower Camp to Arrow Glacier Camp - click map to view
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