I just got back from a 3-day checkout climb of Mount Rainier with my Denali team. Friday we each hauled about 110 lbs of gear from the Paradise Visitor Center to around 7600 feet on the Muir snow field. We established a full camp of 2 tents and the megamid which we use as a kitchen and common area. Saturday we cached our sleds, the megamid and extra gear then slogged further up to the Ingraham Flats at around 11300 feet. Shortly after digging platforms for our tents the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up and it started snow. We cooked dinner and went to bed early intending to wake at 2am for the summit attempt. However around midnight we called the climb due to high winds and 6 inches of fresh snow (where were my skis!). Sunday morning we woke to tents buried in snow drifts and a relentless wind. We hurriedly broke camp and descended back down to Camp Muir at around 10200 feet. At times the wind was so strong you had to stop moving and practically lay down just to keep from getting blown over.
Even though we didn't summit we all learned valuable lessons for Denali. The hardest part of the climb isn't going to be the physical effort to get up the mountain but the challenge of camping on snow for 3 weeks - establishing camps, food prep, melting water from snow, staying dry. Denali is going to be a long, hard trip.