Entries By eric frank

Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Attempt Kahiltna Dome

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 13, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 8,700'

Hi everyone!

Well today we went for Kahiltna Dome and we got higher than any other RMI seminar in recent history. Soft snow and punchy crevasse bridges put a halt on our upward progress close to 11,000 feet. Despite the early start, temperatures never allowed the snow to freeze solid enough to prevent us from dropping into the many cracks that guard the ridge.  The guides put the question to our seminar participants about whether it was safe to continue and the entire team made some very rational common sense arguments on the decision to turn back.  We do believe these folks are starting to understand their limits while making good decisions, as we hoped this seminar would help impart!

We are safe and happy back at 8700’ camp hoping to fly off tomorrow if the forecasted snow does not interfere.

Good night and see you all soon!

RMI Guides Leon Davis and Eric Frank

An RMI Alaska Seminar traveling the glacier. Photo: Kel Rossiter An RMI Alaska Seminar headed uphill on a beautiful day. Photo: Kel Rossiter

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Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Alone on the Upper Kahiltna

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 11, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 8,800'

Good evening friends & family,
The team is here at 8,800’ camp on the Kahiltna, 5.5 miles from base camp. Today we walked with a few days of food and fuel up glacier under clear skies and later a blazing sun. It seems to be unseasonably warm here for early May, but we can hardly complain about great weather!

Early tomorrow morning we will leave camp and make an attempt on Kahiltna Dome and we are all excited to see what the mighty Kahiltna looks like from 12,200’!

Until tomorrow, good night from us all.

RMI Guides Leon Davis and Eric Frank

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Alaska Seminar: Davis and Team work on Glacier Travel

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 10, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

We can’t complain about the two days of bad weather that prevented us from flying on when it is this beautiful at base camp. The weather here is stellar and watching the sun track across the greater Alaska range has the team in awe.  Distant Avalanches off Mt. Hunter and Foraker provide awesome viewing in between skills training. Today we traveled up the SE fork of the Kahiltna for an attempt on Horiskey’s Hump (Radio Tower) but poor slope conditions turned us back.  Not as much snow sticking to the slopes here this year and firm conditions on steep terrain forced us to make a conservative decision. The team is very thankful for the chance and they learned a great deal about themselves.

Tomorrow we train and prepare for an attempt on Kahiltna Dome!

RMI Guide Leon Davis and Team

The Kahiltna Glacier. RMI Photo Collection

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Alaska Seminar: Davis and Team Enjoy Sunny Training Day

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 09, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

May 8, 2014 10:20 p.m. PST
The team took advantage of bluebird weather today by training on various mountaineering techniques near Kahiltna Base. We did this in anticipation of an attempt on the Radio Control Tower tomorrow. Now that the group has all of the necessary skills under their belt, we can safely travel up the glacier and, hopefully, climb to our first summit!

RMI Guide Leon Davis

An RMI team camped at Kahiltna Base Camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team’s Unexpected Good Fortune

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 08, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

May 8, 2014 1:54 a.m. PST
The team woke this morning to the sounds of birds chirping in the trees, which meant that yesterday’s rain had passed. The sky was still overcast, but as we assembled for breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse spirits were high and conversation about our chances of flying onto the glacier carried a positive tone.

By late afternoon, it looked like another night might find us sleeping in Talkeetna and dreaming of glaciers, but luck fell our way. We were instructed to “suit up” and get loaded on the plane. Our flight service, K2 Aviation, was going to put us in the air and see if they could punch through.

Six hours later, we were nestled into our camp on the southeast flow of the Kahiltna Glacier. We established a camp and had a phenomenal dinner. Everyone is in awe of the surroundings and the group’s cameras are getting quite the workout.

RMI Guides Eric Frank, Leon Davis and the Alaska Mountaineering Seminar crew

K2 lands at Kahiltna Base. Photo: Katy Reid

On The Map

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Alaska Seminar: Davis and Team Hold for Weather

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 07, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley

Good morning friends and family! 

Well we are still in Talkeetna after a long day yesterday of rain. The skies this morning, while not raining, remain a canvas of clouds. Today we will continue ground training with mechanical advantage systems, remaining close to the planes if we get a break.

Weather looks good on Thursday and honestly, we are having a great time here!

RMI Guide Leon Davis & Team

Main Street in Talkeetna, early May. RMI Photo Collection

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Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Wait and Train in Talkeetna

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 05, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley

It is often said that to be an expedition climber, you must learn patience. Today was an exercise in just that. Early this morning as we walked empty streets from the roadhouse to the K2 Hangar, clouds hung in what was once clear skies. On the southeast fork of the Kahiltna, those clouds would prevent pilots from landing at base camp. Still, we worked hard at packing for an early afternoon flight and as our departure time came and went, we spent the day training on the K2 front lawn. Knots were learned exhaustively, tents set up and tonight we will gather for another night of stories and laughter. Spirits are strong and tomorrow is another day!

RMI Guide Leon Davis

An RMI team at K2 Headquarters. Photo: RMI Collection

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Alaska Seminar: Leon Davis & Team in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Posted by: Leon Davis, Eric Frank | May 05, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley

When the team met this afternoon at the Anchorage Airport, it was impossible to ignore the weather here. From soggy Seattle or the still frozen north, here in Alaska it’s sandals and shorts weather. Our team is assembled and now in Talkeetna slapping mosquitoes and laughing with new friends and teammates. Tomorrow we will pack, prepare, and hopefully fly onto the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.  Before bedding down we paused to raise a glass to the upcoming adventure.

RMI Guide Leon Davis

RMI Guide Eric Frank and team in Talkeetna. Photo: Leon Davis

On The Map

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Mountaineering Training | 3 Training Principles From RMI Guide Eric Frank

Posted by: Eric Frank | October 14, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Three Core Training Principles
By RMI Guide Eric Frank

Designing a training program to prepare for mountaineering is one of the most important decisions aspiring climbers face. Success or failure is often determined by the type and quality of the training done months before the crampon straps are tightened.

By planning particular elements of the training program in order, fitness can be maximized while the chance of burning out is minimized. Each level of activity leads to the next. It is crucial to start training at least six months in advance of the climb to have enough time to work through a full cycle.  While the details will vary between climbers, here are a few core principles to consider:

• First, commit one or two Saturdays each month for long training sessions. This can be difficult in our busy, modern world, but it is important to find the time to go on a five to six hour hike or bike ride. Days in the mountains are rarely less then eight hours, and being accustomed to consistent low-grade output is important. This serves to build base fitness.

• Next, introduce mountaineering specific activities by focusing on the core and legs. Carrying a backpack uphill for hours can be extremely taxing on these muscle groups. Running, core workout and good ol’ hiking with a pack will build them up to the appropriate level. Remember to carry a pack that is similar to the pack weight on the climb. Filling the pack with water is a nice trick. Carry the weight uphill during training, then dump it out before heading downhill to save the knees.

• Finally, add high intensity, full body workouts to the exercise program. On most routes in the mountains, there are places where increased output is required. Whether it is scrambling up a rock step on the Disappointment Cleaver on Mt. Rainier, ascending a fixed line on the West Buttress of Denali, or just shoveling snow to make a tent platform, physical strength is crucial. These activities will round out the strength in your shoulders and lower back.  A good introductory workout involves body weight calisthenics in a rotation – pushups, crunches, squats, dips, pull-ups and jump rope. Try to do three full cycles with a consistent number of repetitions. The idea is maintain an elevated heart rate and stress different muscle groups in succession. The best part is that is doesn’t require any specialized equipment or facilities.

Finally remember that the best training imitates the route to be climbed. Consider the specific mountain and route to be attempted, research it’s exact difficulties, then tailor a plan which will lead to success.

Eric Frank is a senior guide at RMI Expeditions. He has climbed and guided all over the world, including the Alaska Range and the Himalaya; read about his recent to trip to Shishapangma on the Eddie Bauer Blog. Eric will be leading an RMI Expedition on Mt. McKinley’s Upper West Rib next spring.

RMI Guide Jake Beren leaves the last break before the summit of Mt. Rainier earlier this summer. Photo: Eric Frank.

Mt. Rainier: August 28th Update

Posted by: Eric Frank, Solveig Waterfall | August 28, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 10,400'

The Four Day Summit Climb Teams, August 25 - 28, were unable to reach the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning due to high winds and precipitation.  RMI Guide Eric Frank reported that the teams left Camp Muir before 2 am on their summit attempt but were forced to turn around at 10,400’ because of heavy rain and wind.  Visibility at Camp Muir was very low and wind continued with gusts estimated at 40 mph. The teams are expected to start their descent from Camp Muir around 8:30 am PT.

We look forward to seeing the groups at Rainier BaseCamp later this morning.

Updated 4:11pm PST

The Four Day Summit Climbs led by JJ Justman and Billy Nugent have reached Camp Muir.  The guides are making some hot coffee for the crew while they settle in and prepare for their summit attempt tonight.  Check out the video JJ sent on their ascent to Camp Muir today!


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