Entries By dave hahn

Mt.McKinley: Hahn and Team Arrive at 17,000’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

July 13, 2014 - 4:05 AM PT

Hey, this is Dave Hahn calling in from 17,000’ we made it up today, a better than expected day.  It didn’t start out too good but we made good use of it. We left 14,000’ at 1:30 in the afternoon and got up here at 17,000’ at 9 PM, which was a little bit late but we managed to get all buttoned down before the storm started again. All are doing well at 17,000’ and now we’re ready to get lucky up here.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Tents at 17 camp on Mt. McKinley, Alaska. Photo: Lindsay Mann


RMI Guide Dave Hahn checks in from 17 camp on Mt. McKinley.

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Sitting Tight at 14,000’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 12, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

July 11, 2014 - 11:04 pm PT

There wasn’t much reason to get up early for climbing this morning at 14,200 ft.  It snowed throughout the night and continued through the morning, piling up to about 8 or 10 inches.  Luckily there wasn’t much wind with it though, so we slept well.  Our radio conversations with the folks hanging at 17K revealed that they hadn’t gotten snow, but had gotten plenty of wind.  The consensus seemed to be that if the weather eased, folks would be bailing out of high camp and quitting the climb.  We made the best of calm conditions at our camp to get out for some exercise.  The gang built snow walls and dug tunnels and watched wind and cloud buffet the upper mountain.  Things did ease in the afternoon and our friends on high began descending.  Ben Liken counted 43 climbers eventually making their way down the fixed lines.  That number represented five different guided teams from three different companies.  They’ll head for the airstrip tomorrow, leaving us alone at 14,200 and virtually alone on the mountain.  One guided team of three (two guides, one climber) remains at 17,200 hoping for better luck, it would be great if we could get up there to keep them company.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

A populated 14,000 ft Camp on Mt. McKinley, Alaska. Photo: Brent Okita

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Staying Put at 14 Camp

Posted by: Ben Liken, Dave Hahn, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 11, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

July 10, 2014 - 10:32 pm PT

Hey all,

Today we awoke to just about the same weather we went to bed with yesterday, that is mostly cloudy with a little wind and snow.  Knowing that we weren’t walking up hill in it, we had a multiple-course breakfast of bacon, fried tortillas with sugar, bagels, eggs, and even some sausage gravy.  By the time we finished up the weather had trended from poor to stormy.  With winds and snow on the rise, everyone helped in building some walls and re-anchoring our cook tent.  Looking above to high camp we radioed with some of the other teams. They said they were in pretty much the same weather and were staying put.  The whole team is keeping vibes positive as we wait for Denali to stop what it does best…..storm, storm, storm.

All the best,
RMI Guide Ben Liken

The RMI Posh Tent at 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: LIndsay Mann

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Holding Steady

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 10, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

July 9, 2014 - 10:34 pm PT

It wasn’t such a bad day to start.  There was plenty of blue sky overhead at 6 AM and a little wind to contend with up high, but the day had potential to be just right for moving to 17,000 ft.  The team was feeling good and ready.  But we held off, talked some on the radio to friends at 17K (teams up there were staying put, not going for the top) and we watched the weather deteriorate.  The winds increased, a cloud cap formed on the mountain and the rest of the sky began to cloud up.  Before it clogged up completely, we roped up and took a short walk to “The Edge of the World” to look down on the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.  We belayed each other out onto the overhanging prow of rock for hero shots.  Then we headed back to camp and hunkered down in the tents for an afternoon of light snow and heavy cloud.  We’ll hope for better weather tomorrow.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

View from the Edge of the World from Mt. McKinley's 14,200' Camp. Photo: LIndsay Mann Expansive views from the Edge of the World, Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Carry Some Gear Up the Fixed Lines

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 08, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

We broke a few personal altitude records today.  Our stoves were lit shortly after 6 AM while Genet Basin was still deep in cold shadows.  The weather didn’t look perfect, but that was more of a concern for two of the other guided groups camped alongside us since they were trying to figure whether to commit to a move to 17K.  We were just contemplating a carry to the top of the fixed ropes at 16,200 feet and we could do that in iffy weather.  We set out at 8 AM and made easy progress as the clouds washed in and out a few times.  Within a few hours we were at the foot of the intimidating fixed lines.  The slope angle goes up in a hurry at that point, and looking at this incline for several days from 14K can psyche one out.  Best to come to terms with the fixed section of the climb and to gain confidence on it, which was what we did today.  We topped the ropes and made our cache at 16,200 feet in calm and sunny conditions.  People were heard to say “This is pretty cool” in English, German and Russian.  The confidence building continued as we dropped back down to 14 camp without difficulty.  We own the place now as the other groups made their move to 17 camp.  We all got a good look from above at a hundred empty tent snow walls, impressing us with how “crowded” this important camp can be in mid-season and how delightfully uncrowded it is now. 

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

A view up the fixed lines on Mt. McKinley. Photo: Katy Reid

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Weather the Storm at 14,000’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 08, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

It snowed through the night and into the morning here at 14,200 ft.  Not heavily, and there wasn’t much wind finding our camp, so it wasn’t like it was an awful or epic storm.  But it was enough of a storm to keep us from going climbing today.  We caught the odd view of the mountainside through occasional cloud breaks in the morning and saw dramatic avalanche scars in the Messner Couloir and Orient Express that matched the rumbling we’d heard.  After a long breakfast, we turned the day into a rest day to shore up our acclimatization.  By evening, the clouds were breaking up and it seemed that weather was improving again.  We’ll try again tomorrow.

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team

14,000' Camp on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: Brent Okita

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

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 06, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

July 6, 2014 - 10:18 pm PT

Today, our first day at 14K, wasn’t very difficult.  We got up just slightly ahead of the sun, which made it past Denali’s West Rib at 9:20 AM.  We had a big breakfast and then geared up to go rescue our cache from the ravens.  It only took a few minutes to walk down to 13,500 feet.  And then a bit longer to dig up our food and gear -which, thankfully, hadn’t been attacked by birds.  Then it was just about an hour in the hot sun to get back to camp.  We had a short training session in the afternoon to review techniques that we’ll employ on the fixed rope section between 15,000 and 16,000 feet.  And around dinner time, we were happy to welcome Adam Knoff’s victorious team back into 14 camp.  They drank water and repacked while telling us stories of the upper mountain.  Then they eased out of camp on their way to 11K while we dined, chatted, and headed for bed.  The sky has clouded up again and light snow is falling, but we’ll hope that tomorrow’s weather stays good enough for us to carry up to 16K. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI team's 14K camp on Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team are Fourteeners

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 06, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

July 5, 2014 - 10:18 pm PT

We gladly used another perfect day to move up from 11,000 to 14,000 ft.  We managed to get as far as Windy Corner enjoying cool, morning conditions, but there is no way to sugarcoat the walking weather for the final ninety minutes into camp, the sun was intense, the air was still and the climbers were plain old hot.  That said, it was tough for anybody to complain too much at the combination of great weather and sweet route conditions.  We’ve kept our streak alive, nine days and half a mountain without having to step over an open crevasse.  All were interested and a touch apprehensive to see a raven hopping around our 13,500 ft cache as we approached.  He or she hadn’t had any luck in getting to this one though, and we took a moment to pack down the five foot deep snow covering the buried treasure -one more time.  We’ll retrieve that food and gear tomorrow if all goes well.

It was fun “catching up” to the other climbing teams at 14K, although we haven’t really as they are a day or two ahead of us now and are closer to moving up than we are.  Also great to follow the progress of the only other RMI team on the mountain via radio today as Adam Knoff and crew hit the jackpot for stable weather for a summit bid. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Cache at Windy Corner with climbers in the background. Photo: Lindsay Mann

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Celebrate the 4th of July at 11K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 04, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

July 4, 2014 - 11:34 pm PT

In observance of Independence Day, we rested at 11,000 feet.  Having put in a pretty full seven days of work and in the hopes of maximizing our acclimatization before making the big jump to 14,000’, it seemed smart to take it easy in this beautiful place on a magnificent day.  So breakfast was at a leisurely pace once the sun made it around the West Buttress at 9:15.  We put a bunch of meat into fry pans over camp stoves for a-mid afternoon simulated barbecue.  For fireworks, we watched the sun blaze brilliantly in the Alaskan summer sky.  The team is excited for the move to 14K tomorrow.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Looking up from Mt. McKinley's 11K Camp. Photo: Katy Reid

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn and Team Don Crampons Instead of Snowshoes

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon, Zach Lovell | July 04, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,000'

July 3, 2014 - 11:19 p.m. PT

The forecasts had us optimistic that today would work out well for a carry to 13,500 ft.  At seven AM though, it didn’t seem that Denali’s clouds had read the forecast.  It was socked in above, below and to the West of us.  Even so, there was a mass exodus from 11,000’ camp underway.  The five other guided groups that we’ve been playing leap-frog with for the past week were all busting down their camps and getting early starts at moving up.  By the time we’d finished breakfast, we had the place pretty much to ourselves (to our knowledge, no other climbers have come onto the mountain behind us).  The weather, although a little murky and more threatening than we’d expected, seemed stable enough for our mission.  We put crampons on our boots today instead of snowshoes, an ice axe in our hands instead of two ski poles, and we elected to give our sleds the day off, loading all food and gear for the carry onto our backs.  At just after 9 AM we started up the steep “Motorcycle Hill” above camp.  We made steady progress onto “Squirrel Hill” and then into the “Polo Field” laid out below the end of the West Buttress.  By the time we reached Windy Corner at 13,300 we were thankful for the cloudcover which was keeping things just cool enough for comfortable climbing.  And significantly, Windy Corner wasn’t windy.  We cruised up and around it to our intended cache site at 13,500 ft.  Digging a raven-proof cache occupied us for long enough that the clouds began to clear while we were at it.  This meant we were treated to some spectacular views during our descent.  With lightened packs, we got down without difficulty.  The route was in fabulous condition due to so much recent snow.  We haven’t crossed an open crevasse since leaving basecamp whereas in other years we might well have stepped over a hundred at this stage of the climb.  The forecasted fair weather arrived and made our afternoon and evening resting back at 11,000 camp sunny and easy.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team ascending from 11,000 ft on Mt. McKinley, Alaska.  Photo: RMI Collection Climbers approaching Windy Corner, Mt. McKinley, Alaska.  Photo: Brent Okita

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