Entries By lindsay mann

RMI Guides Lindsay Mann and Pete Van Deventer Sail and Ski in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Lindsay Mann | June 11, 2013
Categories: *Guide News

I climbed Mt. Rainier with my father last summer. After a memorable summit, my dad - a man of little words - expressed his confidence in my abilities as a mountain guide, a compliment I did not take lightly. He told me that he trusted my decision-making in the mountains and wanted me to be a part of his dream trip: combining his passion for the water and the mountains with a sailing and skiing trip in the Lofoten Islands of Norway.

I immediately approached fellow RMI Guide and good friend Pete Van Deventer to see if he was interested in joining the crew. Without hesitation Pete and his wife committed to the trip. Besides being a great climbing partner, Pete had spent time in Norway in college and was eager to return. Additionally, he suggested that we invite one of his Norwegian friends to accompany us. Magnus had already completed a similar trip and was able to offer great suggestions about boat charters and finding a competent captain for our voyage. The dream trip was starting to take shape.

After months of training and preparation, we headed to Norway in April. My dad and I flew to Oslo where we spent two days sightseeing before flying above the Arctic Circle to a fishing village on the west coast to meet our team. A few hours after arriving in Svolvaer, we heard ski bags rolling on pavement. Pete, Katie, Magnus and Maria, Magnus’ girlfriend, arrived at the boat and our seven-day adventure began!
   
The boat at dock.

The next morning we woke up to partly cloudy skies and the realization that a 44-foot sailboat is a tight space for ski gear, sailing gear, and eight people. After organizing our gear in waves, we left the boat with skis on our packs and walked toward a favorite local ski touring peak. Successfully navigating the Svolvaer neighborhoods, we finally reached snow. With climbing skins on our skis we began our ascent up the south side of a peak named Blåtind. Partway up the mountain, it began to rain and visibility dwindled. Too excited to turn back on our first day of ski touring, we decided to continue. A few minutes after reaching the saddle on Blåtind the sun came out and we focused our attention on a ski line on east side of the peak. The conditions were spring corn snow. After a close to 2,000’ descent we put our skins back on and toured along the water to the nearest road where we hailed a taxi back to the sailboat.

The following morning we set sail to the Trollfjord. The Trollfjord is an area accessible to skiers only by boat. With our sails up and Katie Van Deventer at the helm, we sailed to the entrance of the Trollfjord - a dauntingly narrow waterway surrounded by steep walls.  We docked amid howling winds and a mix of rain and snow. Reaching the TrollfjordHyatta, a cabin in the Norweigan Hut System, would have to wait until the next day.

We woke to improved weather and loaded our ski gear and a night’s worth of food onto the dock. The boat sailed away promising to return the following afternoon and we spent the morning skinning to the TrollfjordHyatta. The hut turned out to be a small majestic wooden cabin surrounded by peaks in every direction. Inspired by the mountains around us, we headed out to ski Peak 975. We had great views of our climb ahead and discussed our route and ski options. After an hour the terrain became too steep to skin. With skis on our packs, and clouds rolling in, we reached the top of Peak 975. Since the light was flat we used our bootpack to guide us as we skied down the same route we ascended. The visibility improved and we were reminded of the natural beauty of the Trollfjord. Taking advantage of the good weather we added a few laps to finish our day on a smaller peak just above the cabin. From there we could see the dramatic entrance to the Trollfjord and the unlimited ski options for the following day. The night in the hut was filled with wine, laughs, and Ludo, a Norweigan board game. In the morning we were able to get a few runs in on some steep north facing chutes before returning to dock where we met the boat.

The TrollfjordHyatta

Lindsay Mann touring into the TrollfjordHyatta.

As we sailed away, inspired by the endless quantity of peaks around us, we discussed the multitude of ski options for the day and remainder of the trip. The next few days were unlike any trip I have known. The terrain and sailboat allowed for ultimate flexibility. If the weather was good, we would ski; if the weather was marginal, we would set sail waiting for the conditions to change. Once we decided upon a peak the question then became: how do we get to shore?

This was often time and energy consuming. We would either dock the boat or, if that wasn’t an option, we would get ashore via dinghy. If we went by dinghy Frederik, our captain, shuttled us and our gear ashore while Iselin, the assistant captain, handled the sailboat. From the dock or shore we would skin or walk a few miles to a skiable peak, climb and ski it, and make our way back to the boat.  This sometimes meant walking, other times we were able to ski within a few hundred meters of the boat. Other times it meant taking a cab to where the boat was docked. Each day was a new adventure with a new set of options.

Taking the dinghy to shore

As the days passed, the weather improved and we finally had the perfect Norweigan ski descent on the last day of the trip. For the first time during our adventure we woke up to bluebird skies and decided to ski a peak called Storgalten. Upon reaching the top of the peak could see mountains, water, and our sailboat. Thrilled with the descent, Pete, Katie and Magnus celebrated it with a plunge into the fjord.  We then set sail back to Harstad, our final destination, with Storgalten still in view.  Weeks later, I’m still amazed by the diversity and accessibility of the terrain found in the Lofoten Islands. I have been lucky enough to ski and climb in mountains all over this world and this trip was truly unique. What made it all the more special to me was being able to share it with my father and a group of close friends that got along seamlessly on a 44-foot sailboat for seven days.

Pete Van Deventer skiing down Storgalten.

Lindsay Mann skiing down to the water.

 

 

 

The 44-Foot Sailboat at the dock in Svolvaer. The TrollfjordHyatta, part of the Norweigan Hut System. RMI Guide Lindsay Mann touring into the TrollfjordHyatta with the entrance to the Trollfjord in the background. RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer skiing down Storgalten.
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Mt. Rainier: July 26th Summit!

Posted by: Casey Grom, Lindsay Mann, Ed Viesturs, Peter Whittaker, Andres Marin | July 26, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier *North Cascades
Elevation: 14,410'

RMI Guides Peter Whittaker and Ed Viesturs led a team of climbers to the summit of Mt. Rainier morning. The Four Day Summit Climb July 23 - 26 led by RMI Guides Casey Grom and Lindsey Mann also reached the top today.

Both teams reported light winds and a beautiful day.  The climbers will descend to Camp Muir and then continue down to Paradise later this afternoon.

In the North Cascades, RMI Guides Andres Marin, Eric Frank and Geoff Schellens led their team to the summit of Forbidden Peak.  All team members reached the summit yesterday.  They will break camp and descend to the trail head today.

Congratulations to the summit teams!

Summit Climb July 25 - 28 team learning their skills today. Photo: Win Whittaker RMI Guides Ed Viesturs and Peter Whittaker on the summit of Mt. Rainier July 26th.  Photo: Peter Whittaker

Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team On Their Way Home

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 17, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 358'

We all finally got off the glacier yesterday afternoon as our flight service, K2, did a wonderful job getting everyone out when conditions seemed like they might close in and shut down flights.

After a remarkable twelve days at 17,200’, we are all skinny and inhaled large portions of meat, fish, and beer last night. I write this last dispatch as we are riding to the airport to return home to loved ones, and put this remarkable trip behind us.

Huge kudos go out to a very strong and committed team of climbers, and to two incredible guides, Leon Davis and Lindsay Mann, who worked so hard to make this trip safe and enjoyable, and who were there at the end when the climbing got really tough and the mountain could not have been harsher.

That’s all for this year. I need to see my wife and play with the dog. And I’m sure the lawn needs mowing. Thanks for following us on this unprecedented trip. I’ll be back next year for a shorter, and less exciting expedition.

RMI Guide Brent Okita

Mt. McKinley, Alaska (20,320')

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Mt. McKinley: Brent & Team Summit!

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 14, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Hi, this is Brent from 17,000’ on Mt. McKinley and I just wanted to report that we did summit here last night and we actually just going to bed right now, [it’s] about 3:30 in the morning. It was a bit of an epic night with some trail breaking and some cold winds but everyone did really well and we are all safe back at camp. So congratulations to the team here, we will be descending down to probably 11,000’ [camp] tomorrow. Alright, talk to you later. Bye bye.

- RMI Guide Brent Okita

Brent Calls from High Camp after Summit Day


Brent from High Camp after Summit Day

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Wow, congrats to everyone!  And a special Congratulations to Kristen, the youngest woman to ever summit all 50 state highpoints!!

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Posted by: Bob on 6/14/2012 at 6:22 am

Way to go team!!!

Outstanding…!

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Posted by: Thomas Parker on 6/14/2012 at 6:21 am


Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team - War and Peace

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 12, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Held hostage by the fickle nature of the weather for ten (or is it eleven now?) days at 17,200’ my brain is in hardly any shape to draw all the parallels to that epic saga and our own story here. But some stand out:

Ours has become a very long story of the challenges we face when not all elements in our world are in our control. And in our struggle to deal with these challenges, we face a bit of an emotional roller coaster as optimism fades when a new reality asserts itself.

This morning the hope of a nice summit day came crashing down as we received heavy snow and high winds starting in the wee hours of the morning.  Tyler Jones at 14,200’ camp reported over two feet of new snow and 50 mph winds.

So, once again we dug out camp with face protection, heavy gloves or mittens, and ski goggles on before breakfast. It was here that, given what we’ve been through up here, and the reality of just how long a human being can actually live at this altitude and harsh environment, we chose Thursday as our ‘up or down’ day.  But, this still gives us a chance to summit. Tomorrow might not be perfect, but, Thursday has been forecasted to offer ‘light and variable’ winds.

I’m generally an optimist, but at this point even I can succumb to a heaviness in my outlook after having so many of my summit plans thwarted.  But, as we discover in Tolstoy’s classic, sometimes what matters most is not some obvious achievement, but rather a deeper sense of accomplishment or understanding that comes with living life well, and to the fullest.

Let’s hope tomorrow our dispatch will be a bit more succinct. Like just one word.

Love, kisses and heavy thoughts from your team at 17,200’.

RMI Guide Brent Okita

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Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team take walk towards summit

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 10, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Well, we’re still here at 17,200’, day 7 up here and no summit in sight. In my 22 years of doing this I’ve never stayed here over seven days. I guess there’s a first for everything.
But the team is still strong and committed to tagging the summit despite our little weather delays. And it’s still only day 17 for us, so we’re still well within our time frame for these trip.
This morning was nasty, so we relaxed in our tents until 11:00am and had the brunch that has become all too familiar these days. At that time the wind and snow abated somewhat and I entertained for the first time doing an evening climb of sorts. With a bit of a cloud cap over the summit conditions were not ideal, but we had been having some rather consistent clearing in the afternoon and evenings, and with daylight throughout the evening, late starts are not unheard of.
So, we set out for the summit knowing full well that if we encountered worsening weather we’d simply turn back. The important thing for us was to get in some walking to maintain out strength, acclimatization, and mental health.
The route that we had punched in the day before was gone, so we had to plow through 1-2’ of snow to establish the route. Luckily the snow was quite stable and allowed us to reach almost 18,000’ before I made the tough call to turn back in the face of some increasing winds and certainly not improving conditions.
But, we had reestablished the route and gotten in a little exercise. And everyone had climbed well! We’ll be ready when the weather gods finally allow us to climb.
Back at camp over dinner we discussed just how long we might stay here at 17,200’ waiting for our opportunity. Wednesday seemed like a date that would be reasonable to make our last day here. We have food and fuel to go beyond then, but for those of you wondering when your loved one will be coming back, I would say a few days after that would be reasonable. That being said, we do have some on the team that are willing to stay on beyond then. And for them, I guess I’d have to say that I too would be willing to stick around.
But… Let’s not go there quite yet.

Kristen would like to wish Billy a happy birthday. And Gary would like to send Angela hugs and kisses from 17,200’ camp.

All for now. Thanks for reading our dispatches!

RMI Guides Brent, Leon , Lindsay and the rest of the team

The team at 17,200 ft camp on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: Brent Okita

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Mt. McKinley Expedition: Okita and Team at 17k’

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 09, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Day 6 at camp 17! Woke up to a foot of fresh powder around noon. Had a late brunch of leftover cereal, oatmeal, and soup. After some posh time we hit the shovels and dug out our tents. The rest of the afternoon we’ll be reading and eating, two of our favorite pastimes in the comfort of our tents. We’re cautiously optimistic that tomorrow will bring a summit bid! We’re in good spirits and have plenty of resources to stick it out for another couple days!

-Kristen and Gary

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Mt. McKinley Expedition: Okita & Team Waiting Patiently

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 07, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Good things come to those who wait…

At least that is what we must remind ourselves of. Another day of marginal weather had us scratching our heads about the possibility of a summit bid while other teams have had enough and are headed down.  But with a fortified camp and a weeks worth of food and fuel, we plan to exercise patience and optimism. As storm days stack up, it is all too easy to let altitude and lethargy tear a person down.  Exercise is the best remedy, and so this afternoon we climbed the first hour of the autobahn to stretch the legs and open the lungs.  With new snow covering the route, we worked hard breaking new trail up to 17,700 feet, and the pickets that protect the steep slopes had to be dug out.  To be sure when our time comes to go for the top, our team will be the most acclimated and best conditioned team at high camp.

High and Mighty at 17K

RMI Guides Okita, Davis & Mann

High Camp on Mt. McKinley, 17,200 feet.  Photo: RMI Guide Katy Laveck

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Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Make Home Improvements

Posted by: Brent Okita, Lindsay Mann, Leon Davis | June 07, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

This morning we woke up to clear skies and beautiful views. Unfortunately, as we sipped on our morning coffee the clouds began to grow and the wind picked up. Today was not our summit day, instead we got the team moving around and doing more home improvements. I can positively say that RMI Okita has the best looking camp at 17.

Today’s renovations included lowering the floor of the posh ( or cook tent) and revamping the kitchen scene. After these improvements were made everyone enjoyed some reading and napping before a delicious dinner of tortellini served with a cream garlic sauce and sun dried tomatoes. The conversation was flowing over dinner, with stories of bike racing, pets, hunting and books.

Again we are optimistic about tomorrow’s weather, which is calling for a high pressure system to move in.

Wishing the wind away,

RMI Guides Lindsay, Leon, Brent and team

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Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Build Throne at 17,200’

Posted by: Brent Okita, Leon Davis, Lindsay Mann | June 06, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

No. I’m afraid there were no royal celebrations of summit success for us today as we began the morning getting up with guarded optimism that the clouds and wind above us would dissipate just enough to allow us to get in a summit bid. But that did not happen, and instead we retreated back to our tents after prolonging our time over breakfast in the Posh.

Unfortunately the clouds descended and eventually we were enveloped in wind and snow that just took some of the energy and motivation we needed to work on camp. So, instead we spent a restful morning in our tents, snug and warm from the elements just beyond the thin nylon fabric we rely so vitally on for our comfort and survival.

What do we actually do during these times while waiting for the weather to improve? Of course, reading, listening to music, playing games all come to mind, but simply catching up on sleep is huge. With winds buffeting our tents during the night, coupled with the excitement and anxiety that affects us all before a possible summit day, we can all use the downtime. In fact, it’s the climber that deals with this forced inactivity well that tends to be the better climber. A capacity for patience is a hallmark of good expedition climbers.

But, I never thought that spending an entire day in the old fart sack helped you out much in terms of adjusting to the altitude, so when we got a nice break in the weather we went out and built the nicest bathroom on the mountain, walled and roofed, and ready for whatever the mountain throws at us. At least we’ll take comfort knowing that, when that inevitable time comes, we’ll be able to answer that call without sheets of wind blown snow covering our clothes and all too vulnerably exposed parts of our anatomy.

As for tomorrow, though the forecast calls for high winds what I’m seeing right now makes me think we have a chance. The winds have calmed and it’s sunny and beautiful, with simply gorgeous views of the Alaska Range from our perch here just below the summit of the tallest peak in North America. 

And now, some closing words from the poet laureate of the arctic, our own Lindsay Mann:

At 17 we stay
Wishing the wind away
Cutting blocks and sawing snow
People see out camp and say wow!
A ceiling for our bathroom was done
To give us privacy from everyone
Stories over dinner we share
cause team morale is still there
Hoping to get the summit
As soon as these winds plummet
But for now we sit tight
And wish for a beautiful night

Good night from Brent Okita, Leon and Lindsay

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