Entries From McKinley 6-25-13

Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Arrive in Talkeetna

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais | June 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 358'

The last RMI Denali team of the 2013 climbing season is in place in Talkeetna.  All people (12) and all baggage (24 plus) made it to Anchorage without delay.  We met at four in the afternoon and shortly thereafter we’d connected with Bill, our Denali Overland shuttle driver and we began the shuttle to Talkeetna.  We got to feel the much discussed heat wave… It was hot.  We took a short break in Wasilla, to take on final provisions, and then Bill took us up to Talkeetna town.  Most elected to take it easy on this jet lagged evening, settling down to a comfy night in the Talkeetna Motel.
Work starts tomorrow.
(And there will be pictures)

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

A beautiful sunset in Talkeetna, Alaska.  Photo: Linden Mallory

On The Map

1

Mike King is my nephew and we want to follow him UP!

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Posted by: Bonnie Roberts on 6/27/2013 at 7:37 am


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Get Ready in Talkeetna

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais, Mike King | June 27, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 358'

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
The climbing team ate a hardy breakfast at The Talkeetna Roadhouse.  We talked climbing and safety as we chewed bacon and swilled coffee.  Our excellent meal prepared us for a giant day of packing and organizing to fly on to Denali.  Longtime legendary NPS climbing ranger Roger Robinson gave our pre-climb briefing at the ranger station, after which we trooped on out to the K2 Aviation hangar to get into the nuts and bolts of getting our gear ready for the mountain.  We worked through some unbelievably hot hours, checking tents, stoves, ropes, pots and clothes.  Massive cumulonimbus clouds formed as the day went along and thunder boomed, but the storm never really hit Talkeetna.
We enjoyed a great dinner together at the popular West Rib Pub and then turned in.  All were intent on resting up from this big and busy day to be ready for a bigger and busier day tomorrow, hopefully one that gets us onto Denali.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI June 25th McKinley Team packing gear in the K2 Aviation hanger.  Photo: Dave Hahn Team Hahn taking over the hanger at K2 Aviation. Photo: Dave Hahn RMI June 25th McKinley Team enjoying a meal together in Talkeetna, Alaska.  Photo: Dave Hahn

On The Map

2

To Max and my Dad: Wanted to let you know that although the wifi here is limited, I’m still able to check up on the blog at least once a… read more

Posted by: Ellie on 6/27/2013 at 11:26 am

Dave Hahn and Team -

Sounds like that warm weather is still hanging around up there.  I’ve followed some of the previous RMI teams and they were all hit with… read more

Posted by: Larry Seaton on 6/27/2013 at 7:07 am


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Fly onto the Kahiltna Glacier

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais, Mike King | June 27, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

Thursday, June 28th, 2013
We enjoyed a final, but ample breakfast at the Roadhouse and then hurried out to the airstrip to get ready for flying.  Sure enough, conditions were favorable and so we loaded up in two big and beautiful K2 Aviation ski-equipped Otters.  There was some smoke in the skies from forest fires and a little cloud as well, but we had magnificent views of forests, rivers, lakes… and then eventually of nothing but gargantuan mountains and glaciers.  Our pilots, Randy and Jeff, had us into the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier and safely landed by 9:00 AM.  After unloading and a few handshakes, they were off and we were left in our breathtakingly beautiful new home.  We set to building camp and then spent a lazy afternoon reviewing rope techniques and getting set for glacier travel.  We ate an early dinner under the intense Alaskan summer sun, did a few more last chores and then turned in.  It was good to touch base, via radio, with the other RMI teams on the mountain and to feel like we’ll soon be joining in the fun.  The plan is to be up at 1 AM if the weather stays fine and we’ll hope to be on the march a few hours later.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Mt. McKinley's June 25th, 2013, team ready for the climb. Photo: Dave Hahn

On The Map

3

The Christofferson family is sending our best to Anders and the rest of the team.  We love all the pictures and updates!  Looking forward to hearing how you are all… read more

Posted by: Judy Christofferson on 6/28/2013 at 4:51 pm

Hahn Team
To Mike & Max - we are grateful to be able to follow you on this blog and will enjoy watching your adventures.  Thinking of you and… read more

Posted by: Bill & Caryl Reese on 6/28/2013 at 10:48 am


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Getting Started

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais, Mike King | June 28, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 8,000'

Friday, June 28th, 2013
As planned, we fired up the stoves shortly after our 1 AM wake up.  The plan in getting up so early, was to be moving during the coldest part of the day when we could hope that the glacial surface would be frozen solid.  That would make sled hauling and walking in general a lot easier than pulling through slush, but more importantly, a freeze would make things safer, bridging the crevasses we’d need to cross.  It was apparent this morning, as we ate breakfast and took down tents, that we weren’t going to get a hard freeze.  Temperatures hadn’t dipped low enough, and there was cloud overhead that seemed to act as a warm, damp blanket, insulating the glacier and messing with our plans.  But things had firmed up a little anyway, and by 4:15 AM when we hit the trail, snowshoes were doing the job in preventing “post-holing”.  Rigging up properly for such travel is far more complicated when sleds are in the mix, so the fact that it took some time to get organized was not unexpected.  That extra time paid off when we were able to move good and steady without any gear glitches or malfunctions.  The first hour took us down about 500 feet in elevation to the main Kahiltna Glacier where we turned North.  We began to meet a few rope teams on their way out and it was great to meet an old friend or two in passing and to hear of their adventures on the mountain.  Our second and third hour-long pulls took us past Mount Francis (hiding in cloud) and the junction with the East Fork of the Kahiltna.  By the fourth and fifth sections of the climb we passed the Kahiltna Peaks and made it to the NE Fork junction… about where we wanted to be at the base of Ski Hill.  By this point we were thankful to have cloud cover giving us relief from the sun as we built camp and crawled into tents for an afternoon snooze. 

After a quiet and easy afternoon in the tents, we met for dinner in the deluxe POSH dining complex dug by Zeb, Erik and Mike King.  We turned in early once again anticipating another early start tomorrow. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI climbing team heads for Camp 1. Photo: RMI Collection

Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Slightly Elevated at 9,600’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais, Mike King | June 30, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 9,600'

Saturday, June 29th, 2013
Conditions at 4:45 AM were perfect for moving from 8,000’ on the Kahiltna Glacier to 9,600 ft.  So we did.  We’d gotten up at 2:00 a.m. to have a hot breakfast and we could see scattered clouds overhead and a cap above Denali’s summit but there was no wind.  Our route up Ski Hill was blissfully free of dicey crevasse crossings and the snow surface had frozen up enough to make walking and sled pulling a bit easier than yesterday.  Even so, Ski Hill was long, slow, and uphill.  We were up to 9,600’ in just over three and a half hours.  Already by this point, digging in and building a new camp in a beautiful place was becoming routine.  Clouds cleared down valley so that we had unobstructed views of nearly the entire length of the Kahiltna while we worked.  The sun became brutally intense by midday, but by then we were sheltered in the tents, napping, drinking water and reading.

We got together for dinner in the evening as things cooled down.  We talked strategy for our move to 11,000’, secured camp for the night and turned in early once again. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Ski Hill with Mt. Hunter in the background. Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

2

Thankful for technology that gives a picture into this experience. 93 in Tacoma. Headed for Whidbey and Dungeness crab tomorrow. Prayers for your safety going up constantly.

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Posted by: Donna Nelson on 6/30/2013 at 3:23 pm

Mike & Max Reese + team - Wishing you cold , firm snow and calm weather during your ascent!  Thinking of you while sitting on a beach in Costa Rica. … read more

Posted by: David Reese on 6/30/2013 at 2:05 pm


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Move to 11,000’ Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais | July 01, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,000'

Sunday, June 30, 2013
Another Denali day, another camp built.  We slept in until three this morning and then sprang into action.  It doesn’t get dark in this part of Alaska in late June, but it gets shadowy, which can be a beautiful thing, even with a storm moving in.  It was pretty plain, as we ate breakfast and then knocked down our tents at 9500 ft, that the forecasts were correct and that it wouldn’t be long before weather deteriorated.  But we felt we still had a little time.  As we were getting ready, we enjoyed seeing Mike Haugen’s victorious climbing team passing through on their descent.  We exchanged handshakes, hugs, route information and then wished each other well.  We were out of the old camp and on the site of our new one at 11,000 ft in just over three hours, which meant that we were sitting pretty a few hours after that when things began to get nasty.  It rained a bit through the afternoon, which is not so typical this high up Denali, but by evening it was the more typical onslaught of wind and snow.  By then we were well dug in and ready for it.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team moving up to 11,000 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: Lindsay Mann An RMI Team camped at 11,000 ft camp on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

1

Hi Will! So glad things are going well for you so far! I’m really enjoying the detailed daily updates. Stay strong…and warm! Love you!
-Amy

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Posted by: Amy Huson on 7/1/2013 at 7:37 pm


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Hunker Down at 11,200’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Mike King, Zeb Blais | July 02, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Monday, July 1, 2013
Our storm got real in the night, with cannon-like broadsides of wind and ice particles assaulting the tents.  It was serious enough that the guides were out stumbling around from midnight to 2 AM, cutting snow blocks and building walls, but not serious enough that the whole team needed to be in on the fun.  It snowed and blew for much of the night, with the wind changing direction every now and then in order to keep things interesting.  Although the alarm had been set early for climbing, it was obvious as the morning progressed that we’d simply have to hunker down and ride out the storm.  Around mid-morning we rallied the whole crew to eat breakfast, dig out tents and build more walls.  Then it was back into the tents for a few hours.  We finished the day with some avalanche transceiver training by Zeb Blais, a fine dinner by Erik Nelson and Mike King, and some tall tales by yours truly.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team hunkered down during a snow storm at 11,200 ft Camp on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection Stormy weather at 11,200 ft Camp on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

4

Erik can cook?

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Posted by: Kurt Nelson on 7/3/2013 at 6:25 pm

Hope the weather improves so that you guys don’t have to stay cooped up in tents on the side of the mountain. Hopefully the avalanche transceiver training will be for… read more

Posted by: Vicki on 7/2/2013 at 3:45 pm


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Rest and Lounge at 11,000’

Posted by: Dave Hahn | July 02, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
There was some reason for optimism at 6 this morning when snow stopped falling and we were granted a view of some blue sky and the upper mountain.  The guides got up and out to brew a cup of coffee and to watch the skies.  It was considerably colder at 11,000 ft this morning, down to about what should be “normal” for this place.  We watched clouds build up again and eventually we found ourselves in another snowstorm before we could even call the gang to breakfast.  Mike King taught a well-attended seminar on knots and hitches in the main dining tent for a good chunk of the morning.  Some lounged the day away in the POSH while others returned to their own tents to clear the snow and read/sleep/zone-out.  Our afternoon was brightened when our good friends Tyler Jones and Laura Rogers, of RMI and Whittaker Mountaineering respectively came skiing down out of the storm.  They are up to play and were just successful a few days back in climbing Denali’s North Peak.  They regaled us with all of the news of the other teams around the mountain and a pretty comprehensive wrap up of the entire season in the range.  Eventually, they moved down into the clouds to get a little closer to Basecamp and we moved back into our POSH tent for dinner and a final round of stimulating conversation before bed.  We remain optimistic that the snow will quit and the clouds will flee.
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Camp set up on Mt. McKinley at 11,200 ft.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Train at 11,200’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais | July 04, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
We hear that there was better weather in other places on Denali today, but not so much here at 11,000 ft.  Different day, same weather.  It was snow, blowing snow, cloud and blowing cloud.  We made good use of an afternoon sun break to put on harnesses and crampons and go for a short walk on the lower half of “motorcycle hill” which is just above camp.  It was a nice opportunity to stretch legs and review climbing techniques as well as a chance to see some cool blue crevasses.  After a fine Mexican dinner, we chatted to pass the time and listened to radio traffic from around the mountain.  It seems that we might have slightly better weather for a few days, at least according to our radio.  We’ll be ready to take advantage.  There are four other guided parties waiting things out with us at 11 K and I’m certain they are ready to get moving again as well.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team ascending Motorcycle Hill on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

5

Glad you guys stopped lazing around in your tents and got out to get some exercise!!  : )  The Christofferson family sends our love to Anders and Happy Fourth of… read more

Posted by: judy christofferson on 7/4/2013 at 11:00 am

Happy 4th of July everyone!!! Hugs and kisses Will :)

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Posted by: Amy Huson on 7/4/2013 at 8:51 am


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Waiting It Out at 11,200’

Posted by: Dave Hahn | July 04, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Thursday, July 4, 2013
Groundhog Day at 11,000 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Another storm day from start to finish.  Moderate winds, light but steady snow falling, poor visibility.  Our POSH tent is a well dug-in fortress; essentially a covered pit in which we’ve cut benches for people and shelves for stoves.  It provided excellent shelter today.  Obviously, we drag out the meals for several hours, eating and talking and talking some more so as to avoid going back into our sleeping tents too soon and for too long.  We each put in a few sessions of digging out the tents during the day, which is good for the tents, but also for our muscles and our brains.  In late afternoon, the team assembled for a lesson in how we’ll climb the “fixed ropes” section of the route between 15,000 and 16,000 ft.  Then it was time for dinner, more talking in the POSH, and finally bed once again. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team weathering a storm at 11,200 ft camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map

4

Awesome news!  We heard from Anders by Satellite phone that the weather broke and the guys were able to climb up past Windy Corner to cache some gear yesterday (July… read more

Posted by: judy christofferson on 7/6/2013 at 6:15 am

OK, enough already with the snow!  Surely you guys have suffered enough and have earned a chance to get up that big hill!  We are doing weather dances here on… read more

Posted by: Randy Christofferson on 7/5/2013 at 1:09 pm


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