Entries By mike king

Aconcagua: Beren & Team Relax at Base Camp

Posted by: Jake Beren, Mike King, Steve Gately | December 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 13,800'

Buenos Dias from Plaza Argentina!  Today the team is enjoying a well earned rest day after long stretches of travel and three big days of walking. After breakfast we took a leisurely stroll to get the blood flowing and had a soup for lunch. Now mid siesta, we will spend the afternoon packing for our carry to Camp One tomorrow and going through our cursory check with the Base Camp doctors. It’s definitely another hot one and we may be in for an early carry tomorrow to try and beat some of the heat. Hope everyone is doing well back home!

RMI Guide Jake Beren

The views from Plaza Argentina, Base Camp on Aconcagua.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua:  Beren & Team Arrive Plaza de Argentina

Posted by: Jake Beren, Mike King, Steve Gately | December 25, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

Christmas came early today, but instead of reindeer we mounted mules and forded the mighty Vacas river at dawn. Then we made our way up the Relinchos valley, gaining the most elevation of the trip so far. The team did great moving up this Tatooine like landscape underneath ten thousand feet of mighty Aconcagua visual splendor. It was a beautiful walk and and excellent way to spend the holiday. Knowing we’ve got a rest day coming up doesn’t hurt either!
  Pulling into Basecamp we were greeted by the familiar faces of friends from Christmas’ past, Ana and Griselda our hostesses with the mostesses who made an excellent dinner to celebrate our arrival. After a spectacular sunset the team has turned in for a well earned night of rest.
  Merry Christmas and Happy Festivas from all of us here in the Andes!

RMI Guides Jake Beren, Mike King & Steve Gately

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Aconcagua: Beren and Team Reach Pampa de Llenas

Posted by: Jake Beren, Mike King, Steve Gately | December 23, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 9,000'

Greetings from our first camp! Today we launched from Las Penitentes and began our approach to Base Camp. Walking along the Vacas River, we wound our way up the valley to Pampa de Llenas for another round of chats with the Guardalparque (rangers) and the pitching of our first camp. The team did well today, managing very warm temps and not getting too over cooked along the way. Tomorrow we will try to get out early and head to Casa de Piedra (House of Rock!) for our next camp. Til then!

RMI Guide Jake Beren

The Vacas Valley toward Pampa de Las Lenas.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Aconcagua: Beren and Team Ready in Mendoza

Posted by: Jake Beren, Steve Gately, Mike King | December 22, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

A big hola from Mendoza!  The team is assembled in this summery land, all bags ready to go and all our paperwork complete with crossed t’s and dotted lower case j’s. Now all that remains is to start this Aconcagua adventure by loading up and heading into the mountains. Tonight we will have our last meal at a proper table for a few days and start our walk in tomorrow. Wish us luck!

RMI Guides Jake Beren, Mike King and Steve Gately

Aconcagua, The Stone Sentinel, 22,841 ft

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Mountaineering Training | Guide’s Perspective: My Training For Aconcagua

Posted by: Mike King | December 16, 2013
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

At the end of a long season on Mt. Rainier I enter my off season; sleep deprived, constantly hungry around midnight (breakfast time at Camp Muir), fuzzy on what my role is at home after being away for 5 months and physically worn down.  I am in great shape to walk uphill slowly with a heavy pack, but that’s about it.  All of my attempts to continue my strength and conditioning during the Rainier season can’t override my body’s need for rest.  Yet when my guiding season ends, training season begins.

Personally, I hate the monotony of traditional gym training, which is why I use CrossFit.  The workout is different everyday and the community is supportive and at the same time competitive.  I am asked to improve my competency in the following fitness domains: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.  I have coaches who hold me accountable to my goals and adapt the programming to my needs.  It is a tricky balance though, since diving into this type of programming after being absent for five months exposes me to injury.

I typically have two and a half months starting in October to train for the Aconcagua season. For the first week my schedule is 2 days on, followed by 1 active rest day. The 2 days involve attending a one-hour class, which incorporates a 15-minute warm up, 10 - 15 minute skill session followed by the 7 - 20 minute workout.  The class finishes with mobility and recovery exercises.  My active recovery day might be a long run, mountain bike, or climbing.  My goals during this first week are to work on the ten fitness domains and get plenty of sleep. The active recovery days are designed to give me a break from the intense workouts, but are certainly not a day to sit on the couch. 

For weeks 2 - 6 I increase my training to 3 days on followed by 1 day off.  My off day will usually be an active recovery day.  During this phase I continue to build on the previously mentioned fitness domains.  Increasing intensity and output allows me to embrace the suffering of the next set, mile, or hill climb.  This helps me address the mental side of climbing mountains. 

During weeks 7 - 10 I continue with 3 days on followed by 1 rest day.  On Monday and Wednesday I will complete a one-hour class in the morning and that evening o an additional hour of interval training; either running or rowing.  My rest day is just that, a day to recover and prepare from the two-a-days.  I program eight workouts per week to train my body and mind to work hard when I ask it and better utilize rest when available.  Interval training provides the most direct correlation to how I exert myself in the mountains.

When I arrive in Argentina I am confident that I am prepared physically and mentally for the expedition.  I may still struggle with altitude or fatigue at times during the 20-day trip, however, I have trained my body and mind to work hard when needed and (as importantly) rest when opportunity arises.

________
Mike King guides around the world for RMI Expeditions, from Argentina to Alaska.  He has climbed and guided across the country, thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, and ridden his bike across the country.  Mike now lives with his wife in Bend, OR, where she owns and runs Fearless Baking.  Mike will be guiding an Alaska Mountaineering Seminar next May, and is headed to Aconcagua on December 20th with Jake Beren.  Follow them on the RMI Blog!

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Return to Talkeetna - Trip Complete!

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Mike King, Zeb Blais | July 17, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 358'

The alarm was set for 11:30 PM at 8000 ft on the Kahiltna Glacier.  The rain began at 10:00 PM and continued on and off until 11:20.  Rain wouldn’t be considered a good thing if you were laying in your sleeping bag hoping that the glacial surface would freeze up in the night to permit safe and easy passage to the Southeast Fork and a possible airplane pickup.  So at the appointed wakeup time, we had a soggy glacier, groggy climbers and a murky vision of the world.  Although it is still light for twenty four hours in this part of Alaska in mid-July, it isn’t very light between about midnight and four.  But we made the decision, along with Rob Gowler’s AMS group camped nearby, to make a break for the airstrip before the storm got worse.  We were on the move by 2:00 AM and stumbling along on snowshoes in the gloom.  Surprisingly, it rained no more.  It was slow going at first, hitting big crevasses broadside, without being able to see them ahead of time and take evasive action.  But conditions improved as we got further down glacier… there had been a great deal of new snow (bridging crevasses) the sky overhead was clearing and the snow surface was consequently freezing, and it was getting lighter.  It was a great help to be backed up in route-finding by Rob and the AMS team.  Together, as the last climbers on the mountain, we worked through the early morning hours.  By seven, we’d solved all significant problems and found ourselves at the foot of “heartbreak hill”. We climbed the Southeast Fork to the airstrip and called in the ski-planes.  Conditions overhead were good, but it took a few hours until our planes could even get into the range.  The bigger storm was still coming in, but all passes into the mountains were already clogged with cloud.  We considered ourselves lucky to be flown out in the afternoon.  What followed was a whirlwind of drying/sorting gear, connecting with the outer world again and showers and shaves.  We enjoyed a fabulous West Rib victory dinner celebration,  a summit certificate awards ceremony and copious amounts of laughter over our shared experiences of the past three weeks.  Day 20… Trip done… all we could possibly have hoped for in defining a fine expedition.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Guide Dave Hahn snaps a photo of Mt. McKinley as the last RMI 2013 Expeditions flies from the Kahiltna Glacier.  Photo: Dave Hahn RMI Guides Erik Nelson & Dave Hahn return to Talkeetna on July 16th after a successful Mt. McKinley Expedition.  Photo: Suzanne Ruse

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Descend to 14K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais, Mike King | July 14, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Sunday, July 14th, 2013
Back at 14K.  A couple of long, hard, exhilarating days have come and gone.  When we left 14,200’ two days ago, we were happy to even have a chance at getting to 17,200’.  It wasn’t certain that we’d get there with the leftovers from that two-foot snowstorm.  And as we moved up, we were aware that teams were coming down from 17,200’ because of avalanche conditions between there and the summit.  But we had a perfect day for moving up and we weren’t used to perfect days on this trip… we took advantage.  The going was a little slow, what with trail-breaking, but it was better than we expected to find.  We were able to walk on avalanche debris for a good portion of the approach to the fixed ropes.  The climb up along the crest of the buttress was spectacular and difficult with our big packs, but all handled it well.  It took 8.5 hours to reach camp at 17,200’.  When we got there we were overwhelmed at the generosity of the teams who’d been waiting there for days.  They gave us water and helped to build our tents… And most importantly, they pointed out that recent winds had virtually eliminated the avalanche hazard on the route to Denali Pass.  They were going for the top in the morning and we were invited.  It was just a matter of whether we could get camp up, dinner down, and people in sleeping bags fast enough that the team would be rested for a try on the top.  The next day dawned cloudless and windless and our teams were all enthusiastic about a chance to climb.  We took off at 10:20 AM just behind Rob Galler with AMS and Dennis with AAI.  We’d discussed things extensively and were determined that the last guided parties of the season would work together to achieve this unexpected summit.  Rob did a lot of the hard work breaking trail on the steep slopes to Denali Pass.  We took over a little past the Football Field to make a route up to and along the summit ridge.  Throughout the day, it seemed nearly unbelievable that on a storm-plagued trip, we’d get such a perfect opportunity for the top.  The wind never blew and we were comfortable the entire day… no freezing hands, faces or feet.  We hit the summit at 6:40 PM and stayed there for an hour, taking pictures, shaking hands and marveling at our good fortune.  A few thousand careful steps later, we pulled into high camp at 11:30 PM.

Everyone worked to get some dinner down before turning in.  The guides were up for hours more, melting snow and filling water bottles.  It seemed a great gift that the good weather continued into this morning.  It is always rough packing up at 17K after a summit day, but it was made immeasurably easier by the calm, sunny morning.  We set out at 1:00 PM and climbed ever so carefully down the narrow ridge crest and the steep fixed ropes with our giant packs.  It was quite hot by the time we reached 14,200’ and it seemed a good idea to set camp rather than chancing rockfall around Windy Corner.  Tomorrow will be another big day as we’ll try to make it to 8000’, putting ourselves in position to go out the lower glacier early the following morning.  Probably too much to ask, to get another nice day, but we’ll ask anyway.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Climbing Teams on Windy Corner. Photo: Lindsay Mann

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Summit!

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais, Mike King | July 14, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 20,320'

Saturday, July 13th, 2013 2:30 am PST
Hey this is Dave Hahn with RMI’s Denali team, the last one of the season. I’m on the summit of Denali, 20,320’, on one of the more magical days that I can remember up here in 30 expeditions. It’s really worked out great. We teamed up with some of our good friends from Alaska Mountaineering School and Alpine Ascents International. Great to be up here with good climbers and, like I say, just the most spectacular day. We stepped onto the top at 6:40 PM, and we’ll stay up here for a while. It’s very comfortable. There is maybe a one and a half mile an hour breeze and massive sun. Clouds are probably about 10,000’ feet under us. We will get back to you when we get back to camp. We wanted to let you know that we got extremely lucky. Bye now.

Sunday, July 14th, 2013 8:00 pm PST
This is Dave Hahn calling from High Camp. We got back from the summit, no problem. We spent about an hour up there, altogether. I figure it took us about 13 hours and 15 minutes round trip. We left at 10:20 this morning and we got back about 11:35 this evening. Can’t do a written dispatch; it’s 1:30 now. After doing dinner and filling everybody’s water bottles and all the normal chores for getting us in the bed. But we’ll catch you up on the story in the next few days. The long days continue. This one was spotless weather but very long day. Tomorrow promises to be one as well going down the month. We’ll catch up, and let you know how things are going. Thanks.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The view from the top of Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection Summit ridge of Mt. McKinley. Photo: Seth Waterfall An RMI team descending from the summit. Photo: Seth Waterfall


Dave Hahn calls from the Mt. McKinley summit.


Dave Hahn calls in from Mt. McKinley's High Camp.

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Move Up to 17K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Zeb Blais, Mike King | July 13, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Hey, this is Dave Hahn calling from 17,200 feet on Mount McKinley. We made it to High Camp. Huge day, beautiful day, great weather. One of the nice things that started off the day for us was we got to talk to Mike King. He and Will and Shawn had made it to Basecamp by this morning and they were looking to get picked up within a half an hour of our conversation. They reported good conditions down there and they had a smooth exit from the mountain. We were very happy to hear that. And a big happy birthday to Mike King and a thank you for all that hard work.  We set in with our hard work right after that. It did take a long time to get up here to 17,200’ because we had so much snow on the Headwall. 

If tomorrow is a decent day, we’re going try for the summit. And that’s it for tonight. Talk to you soon.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Making a Call from 17,200'. Photo: RMI Collection


RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls in from 17,200 ft on McKinley.

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Sit Tight at 14,200’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Mike King, Zeb Blais | July 12, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Thursday, July 11, 2013
We couldn’t have asked for a much nicer day, but we’d have loved to have used it differently.  It was clear and sunny from start to finish at 14,200’ ft, just as we’d hoped it might be to settle the slopes above us.  But I’m sure every climber on the team would rather have used such sparkling and fine weather to climb, rather than for waiting to climb.  It was a bit of a tough day for the team as we had two climbers descend with Mike King, bound for base and Talkeetna.  Their problems, a head-cold and a sore foot, were relatively minor, but 14,200’ is not the best place for such issues to resolve and we had a golden chance to team Mike up with a descending team led by guides we know and trust.  But we are sorry to not finish the entire climb together.  It has been a great team.  We can’t say for sure that we ourselves won’t be headed down in a day or two, but we cling to a slim chance for getting to the summit.  Zeb and I went on a short recon mission on the suspect slopes and found things better than we’d expected.  Good enough that we will make an attempt on 17 camp in the morning if the weather cooperates.  We are still getting reports from those at 17,000’ that the route to Denali Pass (18,300 ft) is presumed to be avalanche prone and impassable at present, but we’ll just try to solve one set of problems at a time. 
The National Park Service rangers at 14,000’ used the fine day to remove their seasonal base.  A B3 helicopter flew laps for several hours to get the gear and personnel down.  Camp -and the mountain in general- is getting very quiet as we near the end of the climbing season. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Expeditions tent at 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

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