Entries From McKinley 5-21-13

Mt. McKinley: Brent Okita’s Team Begins Their Expedition in Alaska

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 22, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 346'

Everybody made it to Alaska just fine with just one not-so-minor hiccup. One duffel never showed up and had one of us spending the afternoon at REI replacing missing items. As luck would have it, we got a call from a climber in Talkeetna who had picked it up at the airport by mistake.  With that behind us we were ready for a beer and turned in after our big travel day.

Today we were busy getting the incredible amount of gear needed for this adventure ready for our flight in the morning.  Everyone is excited about getting started.  Me too, even after all these years.

More to come soon…

RMI Guide Brent Okita

The McKinley May 21, 2013, Expedition after breakfast in Talkeetna. Photo: Brent Okita Meeting of Friends in Talkeetna. Photo: Brent Okita

On The Map

19

Dennis - Go get em guy - looks like you are with a good team - best of luck - see you soon - Mom & Dad

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Posted by: Norman Uhlir on 5/30/2013 at 11:32 am

Gerald!!!

We’re all thinking of you and can’t wait to hear about the trip. All the best to you and the team my brother!
Mike

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Posted by: Mike Arahill on 5/28/2013 at 4:10 pm


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Ready in Talkeetna

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 24, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley

Hello from Talkeetna, Alaska
The result of a day of hard work sorting and packing stuff we’ll live with for the next two or three weeks. With a little luck we might be flying onto the glacier in a couple of hours or so. The weather looks promising here, but of course it could be completely different on the mountain.
We’re all set and doing great. But first, breakfast at the Roadhouse ...

RMI Guide Brent Okita

Packed and ready to fly.  Photo: Brent Okita The RMI Mt. McKinley May 21, 2013 Team ready to fly onto the Kahiltna Glacier.  Photo: Brent Okita
9

have fun daddy! i miss you more and more everyday. i hope you have fun up there! be safe and come visit me soon! love you forever, like you for… read more

Posted by: Cory on 5/25/2013 at 9:59 am

Good luck on your hiking trip!  I also hope you have good weather.  All the snow on the mountain makes me feel very cold in Georgia.  Ally Mac, your hiking… read more

Posted by: GrampZ & Grandmom on 5/24/2013 at 10:50 pm


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Establish Camp at 9,500’

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 24, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 9,500'

Weary though we were last night, everyone bounced back after a good nights sleep. Looking up at Ski Hill and knowing we needed to haul these loads up it had us a little anxious in the morning, but we all found the strength and spirit and we made it up to camp at 9,500’ by 3:00 p.m.. We were pretty happy and relieved to get here, and it was wonderful to have another perfect day for it.
We’ve been enjoying the warmth of the afternoon to make camp, and perhaps more importantly, to relax a bit and even get out of our boots.

Tomorrow we start ferrying loads up the mountain, moving only half our gear at a time. This means that we’ll be spending at least two days at a time at each camp. Tomorrows plan is to pack up camp and bring just a few days of food and fuel with us, caching the rest here in a deep hole and away from the ravens who have developed a taste for candy and ramen. We’ll make camp at 11,200’, then come back the next day with empty packs to bring up what we left. What does all this mean? Light packs! Ok, perhaps I should be realistic and call them ‘lighter pack.’
Anyways, we’re firing on all cylinders here and things couldn’t be much better. What a treat it is to climb with a fun, strong team.
We’ll talk again tomorrow.

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Logan Randolph and Leah Fisher

An RMI Team pulling sleds up Ski HIll on the Lower Kahiltna Glacier.  Photo: RMI Collection An RMI Team Camped at 9,500 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

4

Off to a good start!
Ferry away and get set for all.  Joe (USFS Ranger) is hoping to see you.  Carry on….
M&M

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Posted by: Mike and Karen Fisher on 5/25/2013 at 7:48 pm

Good luck guys! Those sleds look fun!

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Posted by: Jack on 5/25/2013 at 6:15 am


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Move Into 11K Camp

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 25, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

The sun doesn’t set at 11,200’ camp until after 9:30 sometime.  Then it just passes behind a mountain to cast shadows on this place that we’re now calling home.  And we’re soaking it all up after another nice day of climbing.

Today we made it to camp in under four hours, and for the first time had pretty reasonable sized packs. A cool down-glacier breeze offered us a change of pace from the sweat fest of the lower glacier, and I think most of the team welcomed the drop in temperature.

Pulling into camp in the early afternoon allowed us to walk into a vacated camp spot and relieved us of the tough work of building walls and excavating tent platforms. Most of us relaxed and enjoyed a well deserved break from our toils.

Another first for the trip: we enjoyed a fine meal from the comfort of our Posh House. This is a tent like thing that allows us all to sit, cook and eat, protected from the elements like the wind, cold, snow or even sun. It’s cozy and makes it fun to just linger over a couple of hot drinks and enjoy each others company.

Tomorrow we’ll be doing a back carry to pick up the cache we left there this morning. We’re looking forward to a fairly easy day, and hopefully another great day of weather.
Before we sign off, Ayla wants to give a big shout out to her sister. Happy Birthday Eva! (By the way, your sister Ayla is a rock star - she’s doing great.)

Until tomorrow ...

RMI Guide Brent Okita

11,200' on McKinley, Kahiltna Dome in the the distance. Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

6

Hi to Jeff Hooper from sis - I think this is the right team! Hope you are having a great time, looks cold! Take care, thinking of you. Jill and… read more

Posted by: Jill Cathey on 5/26/2013 at 6:59 pm

Hello Monica,
Wow the pictures are beautiful! Kathy,Maribeth and I are so proud of your accomplishments!
Praying for you,

Jimmy Rx

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Posted by: Jim Gentle on 5/26/2013 at 5:44 pm


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Carry and Rest

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Sunday, May 26, 2013
Bagels fried in butter, slathered in cream cheese and accompanied with smoked salmon and bacon. It was the perfect fuel to start us out on the perfect day. Clear, calm skies prevailed over the Alaska Range once again and shortly after 9:30 we were hoofing it down to pick up our cache at 9500’. Everyone cruised up and down, allowing us a quasi rest day upon our return to camp around 1:00.
A little afternoon training with our crampons and ice axes will serve us well as we start climbing some steeper terrain tomorrow. Motorcycle Hill, Squirrel Hill, the Polo Field and Windy Corner will be some of the areas we’ll climb through on our way to caching a bunch of food and supplies at 13,500’. We’re looking forward to an exciting and challenging day.
As we were preparing to settle in for our dinner of burritos we got a pleasant surprise when the first RMI trip arrived in camp after summiting on a perfect day yesterday. It is exciting to see our friends, and certainly gets us stoked for the climbing to come. We’re hoping for some similar conditions when it comes our turn to go for the summit. But for now, we’ll just concentrate on the matter at hand. Getting our cache to 13,500’.
We’ll be getting up fairly early in order to get back to camp with time to relax and prepare for the next day.
Until then ...

RMI Guides Brent, Logan, Leah

An RMI Team camped at 11,200 ft on Mt.McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

10

I think George is jealous about your trip. Next time take him too…

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Posted by: susan birnbaum on 5/28/2013 at 2:17 pm

Razzle-dazzle & Ray Ray,

What an amazing experience! I remember you telling me about the fried bagels as we sat in the sun trying to imagine what your climb would… read more

Posted by: Eva on 5/27/2013 at 9:25 pm


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Carry to 13,500’

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 28, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Monday, May 27, 2013
At 6:00 am few climbers are stirring, preferring to crawl out of their tents when the sun is a little closer to chasing the cold shadows of the night away. But we had a big day ahead of us, and knew we would be comfortable having breakfast and hot drinks in our Posh tent.
A skiff of snow barely covered the tents and the gear we left outside, and a few more clouds lingered around for a short while after we lit the stoves, but the sun was also out and we knew it was going to be good enough to make our carry up to 13,500’.
The crew was super quick getting ready this morning, eager, and certainly a little anxious about the climbing to come. After all, it was to be the steepest terrain we’ve been on. And as I suspected, everyone climbed well. A very slight breeze kept us comfortable until the last fifteen minutes when the wind stopped and things got hot. We got to our cache site at 2:00, a very respectable time by any measure. Everyone was tired but smiling and happy. The descent was just as smooth, allowing us to enjoy a few hours of well deserved R&R before dinner.
Our plan for tomorrow is to move up to 14,200’ camp if we’re all feeling good in the morning. Otherwise we’ll take a rest day. If we do move up, we’ll definitely be taking a couple of rest days there, which are key to our acclimatization to the elevation of camp.
After dinner we read all your posts! Thanks so much for the kind words and well wishes. It was another bright spot to an already good day.
Until tomorrow!

RMI Guides Brent, Logan and Leah

An RMI Team makes a carry toward 14,000' on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

31

Hey Derek,
Mate we are all following the climb here at DAL3, steamy Darwin,Australia. All those shuttle runs paying off now!! Good luck , be safe mate.

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Posted by: Gareth on 5/28/2013 at 9:53 pm

Jeff (dad)
We love reading about your day.  Keep it up!
Love Kenny, Alex and Sophia
P.S.  I got a hit today dad - Alex :)

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Posted by: Veronica Hooper on 5/28/2013 at 9:11 pm


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Move to 14,000’ Camp

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 29, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Update: 5/29/13
For the last 20 minutes, the shadow of the upper mountain has been creeping across 14,000ft camp. While its never dark here, the temperature drops significantly when the sun slides out of sight. We are now warm and safe in our sleeping bags, and ready to rest after a long day in the sun.

This morning we awoke at 11,000 ft to a crisp clear morning. After only three days at 11k, the place felt like home. All our team members sat in their preferred (and now regular) locations in our dinning shelter. And after an oatmeal breakfast everyone returned to their respective tents on well worn paths.

We then disassembled camp. What had been a home, dissolved into a series of tools and pieces of fabric. After an hour, we were ready to leave. Snow walls proudly protected our empty camp as we headed to 14,000 ft.

The route was familiar - we took the same route to cash gear yesterday. The team climbed even stronger today. Moral was high and the views were spectacular. As we neared 14,000ft, the sun was directly overhead. While Denali can be a harsh wintery environment, it can also feel like a solar oven. The glaciers act like mirrors and there is no shade. We left camp bundled up and arrived dropping with sweat.

We made our way to an old campsite at 14k and refurbished it. We leveled existing tent platforms, dug out a cook shelter and made ourselves at home. From our new home, we have a clear view of the upper mountain. All afternoon we watched climbers and skiers high above us.

We are all excited to get up high. But we also know that there is work to be done. We must train, collect our gear from 13,500 and bring more gear up high. For now, sleep is a priority. We’ve earned it.

RMI Guides Logan, Leah and Brent

Ascending Squirrel Hill en route to 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: Brent Okita Building walls at 14,000 ft to protect our camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

24

Hey Jo (Gerald) awesome following the trip sounds like going well and weather treating you right stay strong bro. See you soon

Mike

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Posted by: Mike weber on 6/2/2013 at 3:55 pm

Hey Betzalel and Ayla,

Gavi and I just wanted to tell you that we are so proud of you guys, and amazed by your adventurousness (if that’s even a word). … read more

Posted by: Yael & Gavi on 5/30/2013 at 7:30 am


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Enjoy Christmas Duck in May

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 30, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Today we awoke to another beautiful day at 14,000 camp on Denali. Feeling better about the altitude we cruised down to our cache and back in no time. A cloud rolled in and brought light snow this afternoon which has surprisingly been a welcome change to the hot temps and our sunburned lips from these past few days. We were able to do a little practice with fixed lines in preparation for the real deal in a couple days. Everyone did great, even with monster lobster gloves on! Tonight, Gerald treated us to duck burritos, with duck that came all the way from New Jersey, also a welcome change then to “chicken”, resembling tuna from a bag. A shout out to Emma Rose, happy birthday!

RMI Guides Leah, Logan, and Brent

The view from 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley looking towards Mt. Foraker.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

28

Is that why you got such a big snow blower?

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Posted by: Charles on 6/5/2013 at 1:27 pm

Gerald you continue to amaze us!  Stay safe and enjoy the climb

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Posted by: eileen & mike meehan on 6/3/2013 at 2:15 am


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Visit the Edge of the World

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leah Fisher | May 31, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Thursday, May 30, 2013
Awakening the crew just before 9:00 a.m. to enjoy a breakfast of blueberry pancakes in our posh house as the sun warmed up camp was a real treat. We knew the noon hour was upon us and a few clouds began to gather around camp. We booted up to walk to the Edge of the World, a place from which you can look 7,000’ down to the NE fork of the Kahiltna. From here we were treated to dramatic views of a vertical world, in fact, you could even see our very first camp of the trip, a place we past through, which seems so long ago, but in fact was only eight days ago. Some swirling clouds added the drama of being there.
The rest of the day was spent rebuilding our latrine with blocks cut from the snow to protect us from the weather. And later, we welcomed our other RMI team down from 17,200’ camp after their summit day yesterday.

Tomorrow we’ll be carrying a load to above 16,200’, perhaps as far as 17,200’ camp. It’ll be a big day for us but we’ll do fine. Of course, the first time up the fixed ropes is always a bit of a challenge, but this rest day has been good for us, mentally and physically to get ready for it.

We’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, we’ll just end with another birthday greeting: Nic, Happy Birthday from Dennis and the team.

RMI Guides Brent, Logan and Leah

View from the Edge of the World. Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

5

Keep up the good work Derek, bet your getting some amazing photos. Climb hard and stay safe. Huw

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Posted by: Huw on 6/1/2013 at 12:01 am

Jeff Hooper

Love reading the blog and seeing the pictures as you make it up to the top.  keep putting on the sun block ;)
Veronica

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Posted by: Veronica Hooper on 5/31/2013 at 6:48 pm


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Tackle the Fixed Ropes

Posted by: | June 01, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Friday, May 31, 2013
Excitement, trepidation, anxiousness and a whole slew of other emotions ran through the team last night and this morning as we prepared to make our carry up the fixed ropes to 16,200’ and beyond. How would we do on terrain steeper than any most of us have yet tackled? How would we do with the altitude? Everyone had similar questions that only time would answer.
Our day started in the early morning before the sun hit camp. Temps were probably around 0-5 F. But we knew we wanted to avoid any traffic jams on the fixed ropes if possible. And an early start would help insure a smooth ascent.
An hour and a half and 1,200’ above camp the sun finally warmed our bodies. It amazes me still how in a five minute period it can go from bitingly cold to almost sweaty hot. With the fixed lines above we were psyched that we would have warm conditions to deal with them.
We all progressed well up the lines, so well that everyone wanted to continue further up the West Buttress to make our cache.
With climbing conditions on the ridge in great shape our progress was good, and before we knew it we were less than an hour from 17,200’ camp. Although a challenge to climb at that altitude, everyone was up to going all the way to camp. Most people find just getting up to 16,200’ challenge enough. But around 3:00pm we were there!
What made this day so especially memorable was the fact that this was the first time in my twenty three Mt. McKinley expeditions that the entire team had made it all the way to 17,200’ camp.
We’re back at 14,200’ camp now and are looking forward to another well deserved rest day. After dinner we enjoyed reading all your blog replies. Thanks so much for all the support!
Good night from 14,000’

RMI Guides Brent, Logan and Leah

Ascending the fixed lines on Mt. McKinley toward 16,200 ft.  Photo: Katy Laveck Looking down toward the 14,000 ft camp on Mt. McKinley.

On The Map

13

Monica and team, I hope the weather cooperates tomorrow! I’ve been calling in all my favors to Mother Nature.. Hopefully it’ll work! I’m so happy for you all to have… read more

Posted by: Leslie on 6/4/2013 at 9:20 pm

Awesome work team.  You all rock! Keep pushing on!

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Posted by: Rob Carrizzo on 6/2/2013 at 5:32 am


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