Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Waiting at Basecamp

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | July 08, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

At 3:30 this morning I was startled awake by what I thought was the rumbling of a distant avalanche.  Perhaps my mountain senses have an automatic alertness to these deep thunderous roars that will pull me from the deepest sleep.  As I poked my head out of the tent door, I remembered where we are.

Two days ago I broke the news to the team that a serious storm was brewing and the risk of staying at high camp, in my opinion, outweighed the reward of a potential summit.  Going for the top on Monday or Tuesday would put our total time there at eight or nine days, well beyond anyone’s preference.  So we packed camp with heavy hearts and set off on our descent.

We moved efficiently down to eleven thousand feet where we rested for six hours.  The alarm went off at 5:00 am to no one’s delight and we headed toward basecamp at 7:30.  By 3:00 pm we were drinking MGD and relaxing in the sun.  K2 aviation was optimistic about flying us off so morale, all things considered, was high.  That was until one hour later the clouds moved in and it began to to snow.  That was more than 24 hours ago. 

Now as I write this at 4 pm on Sunday, we have received two feet of snow.  Welcome to Mt. McKinley!  We have all just come in for lunch after two solid hours stomping down the runway so if the storm does abate, planes might fly.  This is all we hope for now, the high pitch sound of propellers and don’t think twice about those avalanches in the distance. 

This is Adam Knoff signing out.

The airstrip at Kahiltna Basecamp

On The Map

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Comments

Thnx to all for your comments & thoughts—it meant alot to us all up there.
Even though we didn’t summit, we all had an epic time—great guides, climbing buds & I know The West Rib & The Fairview Inn will not soon forget us that “last night” in Talkeetna.
For the record, I played & sang a couple of songs at “open mic tues”—DG & Uch witnessed the “trainwreck” the extra nite we stayed.
Again, what a time…and Joe H—the cache ate your snowshoes—it wasn’t Mike’s fault!
Tim

Posted by: tim mclaughlin on 7/12/2012 at 6:20 pm

Tim, glad to hear you are all well.  Look forward to your return to Wenatchee.  Bart

Posted by: Bart Miller on 7/12/2012 at 9:08 am

Hey Chris, you know what old Mr. Thompson down the street used to say…“what the butter churn dreams is what the forge and crucible think is impossible.”

You tried your best, but at least you still got your legs to try again. I probably would have died after 5 days at 17k…

Posted by: Jonesy on 7/9/2012 at 1:37 pm

Glad you are all safe, best BD present a Mom can have.
Hope all goes well for the rest of the return trip.
jane

Posted by: Jane Knoff on 7/9/2012 at 9:40 am

Hey bro! Sorry summit wasn’t in the cards this year, but great stories to share!  And, pass on a “kudos” to your guide(s) for having common sense—that alone tells me RMI is as top-notch as you always say!

Have a cigar and a cold one for me up there! 

Lil’ Bro

Posted by: Dan McLaughlin on 7/9/2012 at 9:29 am

Your first non-summit ever, and sounds like it was the best idea by far!  Thanks, Adam, and RMI for your experience and for making the difficult but best decision for safety.  The McLaughlin family says, “THANK YOU!”  We can’t wait for you to get home!  Easy Street is not the same without you!  We look forward to your pictures and stories.  Call me when you can, and let me know your travel plans.  I’ve got a surprise for you!
Always and Forever,
your Deb

Posted by: Deb on 7/9/2012 at 7:53 am

Glad to hear you are all safe.  Team Steadfast till the end.  If a man does his best, what else is there?

recoup in style!

Posted by: mark skinner on 7/8/2012 at 7:56 pm

DG,
I’m sure you are ready to have a hot shower and put on some street clothes! Oz and I are looking forward to you coming home.  He had a great time at the Barteks and is geared up for camp this week at Cary AcademyLet me know if there is anything I can do to help with travel arrangements once you get back to Talkeetna.
Love,
Stephanie

Posted by: Stephanie on 7/8/2012 at 7:11 pm

Hi all, sorry to hear the summit didn’t work out… you guys certainly put in great effort holding out at 17.  Hope the weather clears soon, so you can get back to Talkeetna for a hot shower and a cold beer!  -  Mike

Posted by: Mike Richmond on 7/8/2012 at 6:32 pm

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