Mt McKinley: Significant Snowstorm Keeps Hahn & Team at 17K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 15, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

July 15th, 2014 - 7:16 pm PT

Yesterday’s storm hit hard at 17,200 ft.  The heavy snow continued through dinner and the night, with plenty of wind to make things noisy.  The team took turns through the night, going out to dig snow in order to keep tents from being crushed.  The hard workers would come back into the tents coated head-to-toe in rime ice.  By morning, several things were clear.  Significantly, the sky wasn’t one of them.  Our climbers were wet and cold from the rough night and our summit ambitions were now going to take a back seat to getting down the mountain safely.  Even before we could see the Autobahn, we knew it couldn’t receive two plus feet of snow overnight without gaining a significant avalanche risk.  Sure enough, after the morning shovel session and breakfast we did get some clearing and couldn’t see any evidence of our track to Denali Pass.  The slope had dramatically wind sculpted snow slab from top to bottom.  We won’t mess with it.  Winds died in the afternoon, which made it a little easier for the team to dry out and get some rest.  We’ll give the slopes below us a day to cook in the sun and stabilize and we’ll hope the next storm pulse holds off long enough for us to get down from the ridiculously high West Buttress.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Sunset from Mt. McKinley's 17,200' Camp. Photo: Katy Reid

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Comments

Job well done to the whole team! Wish you could have made the summit, it is much better to be safe than risk get into trouble. Have a wonderful and safe journey down. Joe and Sean, can’t wait to hear about it. Cheers to all of you!!!

Posted by: Tower on 7/16/2014 at 10:12 am

It’s been fun learning about your trek. Be safe out there. Kb, I look forward to hearing a bit more about everything.

Posted by: Patrick Bell on 7/16/2014 at 9:44 am

I certainly know you are all heartbroken, and I sincerely feel for you and want to congratulate you on a job well done.  Also, I want to thank you for being such a great team to climb with and wish safe travel back to Talkneetna.  Thanks to all of you Dave, Ben, Sean, Zach, Dennis, Hans, Alex, Sean, Joe and also to Kristin.  Rob

Posted by: Rob Millman on 7/16/2014 at 9:06 am

Another snow day…Still a magnificient way to spend your time.  Safe travels!

Posted by: Mary on 7/16/2014 at 3:23 am

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