Entries By billy nugent

Mt. McKinley: Nugent and Team Experience Not So Perfect Weather

Posted by: Billy Nugent | June 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

June 16, 2015 - 6:07 pm PT

Snow, wind, sun… Repeat. That’s been the story of our day today with rapidly changing weather that seems to change every twenty or so minutes. Despite the moderate weather our team was able to descend to the cache at 9,600’ in a total whiteout, retrieve it, and climb our way by Braille back to our camp at 11. For a lot of our guys it was their first experience in not so perfect weather so it served as good training for the inevitably bad weather we’ll endure higher up. Even though it was a little crummy, we made short work of the back-carry and are settling back in with a planned rest day on the docket for tomorrow.

Also wanted to make a brief shout out to all the dads out there… Sorry I forgot to mention it yesterday but out here you lose track of what day it is at all. Happy belated Father’s Day!

More news as our saga unfolds,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

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

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

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Levi Kepsel, Chase Nelson | June 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

June 15, 2014 - 10:31 pm PT

Greetings from Camp 3 at 11,000’... We enjoyed a sunny and warm wake up today while we packed for a quick move up to 11,000 ft on Mt. McKinley. After a few hours on the trail in mostly whiteout conditions we arrived and set to work digging and building platforms and walls to protect our tents and posh (dining tent). The weather has been coming in and out all day with sun breaks punctuating a generally cloudy day. It’s actually begun snowing moderately as I write this… Anyway, we left a sizable cache of food and fuel buried down at 9,600’ that we hope to retrieve tomorrow morning after sleeping in and enjoying a more substantial breakfast. Breaking camp every morning for the last 3 days has meant quickie breakfasts like oatmeal or granola. We also got to enjoy a visit with some of our comrades from higher on the mountain as they came through camp. Good vibes all around.

All for now,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Camp life at 11,000 ft on Mt. McKinley, Alaska.  Photo: Rob Lindner

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Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Grooving on in to 9,600’

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Levi Kepsel, Chase Nelson | June 15, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 9,600'

June 14, 2014 - 10:44 pm PT

Checking in from 9,600’! All is well up here, despite a very hot day cooking in the microwave. A breezy and chilly morning made for a brisk break of camp this morning but it eventually gave way to stillness and a low level cloud clinging to the glacier. With full humidity and scorching temperatures we poured sweat despite stripping down to just our base layers. By the end of the day, a nice breeze greeted us as we neared Kahiltna Pass and put in our camp. We enjoyed the evening with a good meal outside and are all crawled in waiting for tomorrow and our planned move up to 11,000’.

More as the situation develops,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

An RMI team at the 9,600' Camp on Mt. McKinley. Photo: John Lucia

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Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Reach Camp 1

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Levi Kepsel, Chase Nelson | June 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,800'

June 13, 2014 - 9:40 pm PT

Welcome! To the first of many blog installments for the June 10, 2014, RMI expedition to Denali. Our team first met a couple days ago in Anchorage and enjoyed a cramped van ride up to Talkeetna. There, we spent the following day packing and prepping for our bush flight in the midst of a shaky weather forecast. We went to bed on Wednesday night locked and loaded with our fingers crossed for blue skies in the a.m… As luck would have it our good friends at K2 Aviation were able to drop us off at Kahiltna Basecamp in a pair of Otter ski planes first thing in the morning! After building and moving in to our camp we spent the rest of the day making our final preparations for the trip.

Today was the first real day of the expedition. We woke early and broke camp and packed up for our single-carry to Camp 1 at 7,800’. A single-carry means we are loaded down with all of the equipment, food, and fuel to sustain our expedition for 22 days… It rounds out to about 100lbs of gear per climber split between a sled and backpack. We had a couple of occasional breaks of clear skies but spent most of the day sheltered from the blazing sun by a thin layer of clouds and light snow flurries. While it might sound inclement, it actually kept temperatures from getting too warm and made for nice walking. We are all settled in at 7,800’ for the night and are hoping to continue up tomorrow with another single-carry to 9,600’ and Camp 2.

We’ll check in again and let ya’ll know how it went…

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

The Mt. McKinley Expedition starting June 10th, 2014, led by Billy Nugent ready to fly! An RMI climbing team hauls sleds to Mt. McKinley's Camp 1. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. Rainier: Camp Muir Seminar Summits!

Posted by: Seth Waterfall, Adam Knoff, Billy Nugent | May 29, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

Hi there, we are having a great summit day!  We left Camp Muir at 4 am and reached the summit at 9:15.  The weather has been very nice.  We are making our way down the mountain now.  We’ll check in when we get back to Camp Muir.

RMI Guide Seth Waterfall

May 29, 2014 - Camp Muir Seminar on the Mt. Rainier summit! Photo: Seth Waterfall
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Mt. Rainier: Teams Forced to Turn Due to Weather

Posted by: Billy Nugent, Garrett Stevens | May 25, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 13,000'

The Four Day Summit Climb led by Billy Nugent and the Five Day Summit Climb led by Garrett Stevens were forced to call 13,000’ their high point today.  The teams reported high winds, low visibility, and a descending cloud cap.  The teams will rest for a short time at Camp Muir before beginning their descent to Paradise.  We expect to see them back in Ashford early this afternoon.

An RMI Climber on Mt. Rainier in low visibility. Photo: Ed Viesturs

Mt. Everest: Dave Hahn and Team Return to Kathmandu

Posted by: Billy Nugent, JJ Justman, Dave Hahn | April 29, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 4,383'

In Lukla, roughly eight thousand vertical feet below our Everest Basecamp home of the past three weeks, we were pretty comfortable.  But just for one night.  The team was awake by five am yesterday, eating by 5:30 and walking over to the airport check-in at six.  We watched -partly in awe, partly in horror- as Twin Otters, Dorniers and A-Stars roared in and out of the compact one acre loading and unloading zone, pirouetting into place, revving engines, disgorging trekkers, cases of beer and heavy bags of rice at a frenetic pace.  When summoned by frantic hand gestures, we shouldered our packs, walked out onto the tarmac and took over the seats in a Twin.
A few minutes later, we were in the air, over a few craggy passes and cruising toward Kathmandu.  Upon landing, we were no-longer climbers, or even would-be climbers, we were happily transformed to overdressed tourists.  As such we took off a few layers and began showering, shaving and eating eating eating. 
Although we are still far from home, the program is finished.  We continue to enjoy each other’s company, we still rely on one another to make sense of the sad events and unexpected turns our trip has taken.  The team is grateful that so many have followed our journey on the blog and offered up kind words and support.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Views from the airplane flight between Kathmandu and Lukla.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. Everest: Hahn and team finish their trek

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Billy Nugent, JJ Justman | April 27, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest

Billy Nugent led the way out of Namche, down the big hill and into the valley of a thousand farms and small villages.  We made it in six hours to a comfy tea house next to the airstrip in Lukla.  The rain caught us for the last hour or so, but didn’t actually bother anybody enough to make them put a raincoat on.  We ate the afternoon away in our new low-altitude home.  Mark Tucker made a surprise appearance for dinner, having finished up his duties at Basecamp today and figured out a way to heli-hike in minutes what had filled up three days for the rest of us.  We are now poised for an early wake-up and some airport hustle that may or may not get us to Kathmandu by fixed-wing aircraft.  All depends on the weather.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Mt. Everest: Dave Hahn & Team Back to Namche Bazaar

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman, Billy Nugent, Mark Tucker | April 26, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 11,300'

Today was a big walking day, up and down the hills of the Khumbu Valley from Pheriche to Namche.  Right out of Pheriche, where we started hiking at 8 AM, we crossed the river, climbed a hill and turned into the inhabited portions of the Khumbu.  We turned our backs on rocks and ice and walked down into rhododendrons, pine trees and villages.  JJ led the way as we rolled through Shomare, Pangboche, Deboche, Thyangboche, and Phunky Tonga.  We got hot enough to sweat a bit, which was a novelty, we passed a million trekkers and heard about a million helicopter laps as the B2’s and B3’s flew over us on their way back and forth to Everest Base.  Finally, at midday, we got working our way up the giant dusty hill that would put us on level with Namche.  It took us about six hours to reach Namche -still quite familiar to us since we spent three days acclimating in town on the way in.  This time… no acclimatization needed… so fine to be below 12,000 ft for the first time in close to a month.  The team enjoyed a fine evening at comfortable Camp De Base.

One more big day of hiking to go before Lukla International.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Descending views of Everest. Photo:  Casey Grom

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Mt. Everest: Dave Hahn Checks in from Pheriche

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman, Billy Nugent, Mark Tucker | April 25, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest
Elevation: 13,950'

Our last night in base was made dramatic by a lightning storm rolling through.  A few inches of snow fell thick and fast, making morning, bright, fresh and beautiful.  At 11:15 AM we filed out of the ghost town that Mount Everest Basecamp has become.  The climbing team, accompanied by Lam Babu, made good time in losing three and a half thousand feet to reach Pheriche in four hours and forty-five minutes.  We each paid Everest’s summit a couple of last longing looks during the march, but then paid more attention to the task at hand; walking an uneven, slippery mountain trail while dodging trekkers, yaks and porters.  The gang stuck together wonderfully, demonstrating what a close knit and fit climbing team we’ve become.  With each village on the descent, through Gorak Shep, Lobuche and Thukla, we each noticed the thicker and easier air.  We coughed less and walked faster.  All enjoyed seeing the baby yaks trying out their legs on our homestretch into Pheriche.  Tonight, we are indoors again… safe, enjoying each other’s company, and quite comfortable.  We hope things are going well for Mark Tucker and the bulk of our Sherpa Team, back at EBC for a last couple of days to button things up properly.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI team descending past prayer flags. Photo: RMI Collection Views of the Himalayas near Pheriche. Photo: Casey Grom

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