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Last night Chris couldn’t sleep well—he couldn’t find his glacier sunglasses and ski goggles. He was very disappointed and stressed: he told us that without his sunglasses, there was no point for him to continue the expedition and that he wouldn’t be able to ascend without the sunglasses.

I tried to calm him down. It seemed impossible that in all of Talkeetna, where hundreds of people go skiing or mountaineering, there wouldn’t be glasses for Chris.

At the airport, right before takeoff, a kind pilot gave Chris his ski goggles. We were very grateful!

Soon we began loading our things. Then we got on the plan, put on our headphones, and taxied to the runway.

This was my first flight in such a small airplane. It was just awesome! Sitting directly next to the pilot, talking to him, and most importantly, enjoying the views around and below!

We were lucky with the weather: it was clear and sunny. If it were a bad weather, we would have been stuck in Talkeetna, waiting for good conditions. The previous group had waited several days for the clear weather to fly.

Below, powerful river meanders cut through the dark taiga, gradually narrowing into the snow fields and foothills of the Alaskan range. Suddenly, the rivers disappeared, replaced by giant glaciers with deep crevasses between high rocks and mountains, sometimes turning into snowy plateaus of dazzling white light. And the majestic peak of Denali was rose right in front of us.

Unlike the flight, landing the plane on the glacier (the plane had skis underneath) was not the smoothest experience. We were jolted a couple of times.

When we unloaded everything from the plane, a volunteer ranger met us and gave us fuel. It was exciting to watch planes take off and land, but there was little time for this. We immediately started preparing for the next camp. We didn’t want to stay long here in the basecamp.

We cached some food and one of our camping bucket toilets (we had four in total) deep under the snow, marking this cache with bamboo sticks. Then we moved on with snowshoes, sleds and a rope.

Along the way, my snowshoes fell off. We had rented them, and they were just terrible, especially their clasps. Additionally, it was very hot and difficult to walk with such a heavy load on my shoulders and on the sled.

Despite this, it was still a beautiful day with stunning mountain and glacier views, unlike anything I had seen before. This was a real expedition!

The path to the first camp had minimal elevation gain but was very long. We were overjoyed when we finally saw the tents of the first camp ahead!

Reaching the camp, the first thing we did was pitch our tents, collect snow for water, prepare dinner, and of course, fly our rainbow flags!

Exhausted, we went to bed. It was strange to feel that it was still bright outside, even though it was quite late. Here, the Arctic sun sets only briefly, and it gets dark only shortly Luckily, I brought my eye mask with me.

I hope this night won’t be too cold…

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