McKinley: Day Two - Flying to the Mountain

Posted by: Seth Waterfall | May 03, 2007
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,200'

First day on the Mountain! This morning we all met at the Roadhouse again for our “half- standard” breakfasts. The weather was looking good as we walked to Hudson Air to check in with Jay and the other pilots. We had separated and weighed our gear the day before, so when the pilots decided that it was time to fly, we loaded up the planes quickly. Before I knew it we were off and flying. Hudson Air has three full time pilots including Jay and we needed three flights for our group to get in; perfect.

The flight in and out of the Alaska Range is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. Once you clear the green taiga and forested foothills there is nothing but rock, ice and snow. I often describe the Alaska Range as a “mountain range with cake frosting”, because of the way the snow and ice blankets the entire range. Seeing the mountains from inside a Cessna is to be truly in awe of their grandeur.

Landing a Cessna on a glacier is always an adventure. There is something about an airplane with skis that is on one hand very cool, but also a little strange. After unloading the planes and waving good-bye to the pilots, we began to prep our packs and the sleds for the first leg of our journey.

One of the nicest things about climbing in Alaska is the amount of daylight that you get. So even after having a nice breakfast in town and flying into the range, we are able to start on our climb. It was great to get started as everyone in our group is very motivated and anxious to get going.

After a five and a half hour trek up the lower Kahiltna Glacier, we stopped in a camp site just below ‘Ski Hill’. We then made dinner and jumped into our tents before the cold Alaskan night took over.

Denali from the air.

On The Map

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