Entries By solveig waterfall

Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Socializing and Working on the Runway

Posted by: Mike Walter, Steve Gately, Solveig Waterfall | May 29, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

May 29, 2014 - 3:55 pm PT

We awoke again to the faint patter of snow hitting our tents rainfly. Sticking our head out revealed slightly better visibility than when we tucked away in our sleeping bags last night. Looking east you could make out the lower features of Mount Hunter and looking west you could scarcely make out the lower flanks of Foraker. Sometime late morning the clouds began to break ever so slightly and the sun poked its head in through the clouds just enough to cause the many teams waiting here at camp to stir. Over 14” of new snow has fallen since we first arrived and that’s a concern for when our flights are able to pick us up. The accumulated snow makes it difficult for the small bush planes to take off from the glacier. So an effort was organized to gather the folks in camp to strap on there snowshoes and skis and go pack down the take off zone. Shortly after our task was finished the clouds descended and took over the southeast fork of the Kahiltna again. It’s early afternoon now and we’re still patiently waiting for conditions to improve, but with plenty of food and camp becoming busy with teams moving down from the upper mountain our team is biding their time making new friends and reacquainting with teams we shared time with at 14 camp. All is well here from the Kahiltna. Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Steve Gately and team

Mt. McKinley's Kahiltna Base. Photo: RMI Collection

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McKinley: Walter & Team Arrive at Basecamp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 28, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,200'

May 28, 2014 - 10:18am PT
Good morning from Base Camp!

We are listening to the snow fall while we sit in our tents, and although it seems bright and cheery from inside the orange nylon walls, this weather system has settled in and the South East Fork is thick with clouds.
We made quick work of the walk down from 14 yesterday,  stopping in at 11 Camp to dig up our cache and say hello to Brent, Leah, Nick, and their team. 

It’s much warmer down here, but consequently the snow is wet, heavy, and saturating, so we are all enjoying more time sitting “indoors” of sorts. 
Hopefully we get a break in the storm soon and K2 Aviation can get us back to Talkeetna!

RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team.

Airstrip on Mt. McKinley. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Will See What the Weather Brings in the Morning…

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 27, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

May 26, 2014 - 10:21 pm PT

Today is day 19 of our expedition, with twelve of those days spent at the 14k Camp. The weather forecast is not looking good for a summit attempt, as a significant weather system is supposed to hit Denali tonight, bringing snow and wind tomorrow. High winds are forecasted to persist for the next ten days. If this forecast verifies we will be headed downhill shortly, as we still have to make it back down the Kahiltna Glacier to Basecamp before waiting for good enough weather to fly back to Talkeetna. We will definitely wake up early tomorrow morning to see if we get lucky with a quick summit window, but none of us are holding our breaths. We will let you know how the weather treats us tomorrow.

Cheers,
RMI Guide Mike Walter

Looking through Camp Walls at Mt. McKinley's 14,200' Camp. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Spend Another Day at 14,000’

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 25, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 25, 2014 - 6:27 pm PT

Our team is spending another day at the 14k Camp today, with strong winds apparent up high again. We’re hoping to take advantage of a brief window of calmer winds this week in order to take a crack at the summit. We’re hoping to move to high camp tomorrow if the weather allows. We’ve got our fingers crossed, as tomorrow will be day 19 of this expedition and the shot clock is winding down.

We’ll let you know how it all plays out.

Cheers,
RMI Guide Mike Walter

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Mt. McKinley Expedition: Walter & Team Staying Patient

Posted by: Mike Walter, Steve Gately, Solveig Waterfall | May 25, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 24, 2014 - 11:24 pm

Patience. Climbers looking to come to the big mountains of the world often focus mostly on physical training. I need the strength to climb this steep section, the strength to get to the top. What about the strength to wait out weather for a few days, a week,12 days!? Patience is a crucial component of the mental strength needed to not only succeed in the worlds great ranges but stay safe and return home. Luckily we have a great team that seems to understand this model and is doing a fantastic job of staying patient.

Today was actually a gorgeous day, blue skies and variable wind. So you might be asking yourself why are we still at 14,000’?. The problem here is that one great day does us very little good. We need 2-3 days of good weather. One good day to get to 17,000’ camp, one good day to summit and one last good day to descend. With our forecast calling for extremely high winds and 1-2 feet of snow tomorrow, moving to a very exposed 17,000’ camp would be foolish. So Alas! We must stay patient, hopeful and in good spirits, and it would appear we have just the team for the job. Plus I hear building snowmen is great for acclimatization!

All the best from RMI Guides Steve, Mike, Solveig and team!

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McKinley: Walter & Team Wait out Weather in Good Company

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 24, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 23, 2014

High winds aloft again thwarted our plans to move to high camp today.

The team enjoyed another rest day, and we have now joined forces with Pete VanDeventer and his team, who arrived a few days ago, and together have built ourselves quite the RMI compound here in the Genet Basin.
After breakfast, Mike, Steve, and I made a quick lap down to 11 Camp to dig up our cache and retrieve any usable food items, extra gas, and personal supplies to help us extend our stint on the mountain.

We were hoping to get some promising news from the weather forecast this evening, but it sounds like we are going to have to dig our heels in and hang on, as high winds and multiple feet if snow are predicted over the next few days.

On a positive note, we scored some brownies and oreo’s from a descending team, and thankfully Mike’s frozen Kindle came back to life.  We are now all happily entertained campers (and snackers) at 14,000’, prepared to ride out this weather system!

Small miracles….

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall & Team

Deep Snow at 14,000' on Mt. McKinley, Alaska. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Remain at 14,000’

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 22, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 22, 2014 - 6:44 pm PT
We had grand plans of moving to high camp today, and awoke early to clear skies above and relatively warm temps. We started stoves and began the process of packing sleeping bags and organizing gear, but before the water even had time to boil, a cap began to build on the upper mountain and lenticulars formed over Mt. Foraker to our south west.  We watched as plumes of snow, sublimating from the west buttress and 17,000’ Camp, began to stream to the south. 
Better to sit here at 14 camp and drink more coffee, we decided…. Although now we are out of coffee….
The team is in good spirits and we will keep you posted as the situation continues. Fingers aggressively crossed that this weather breaks soon!

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall

The view from 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley with Mt. Foraker in the background.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Rest at 14,000’ Camp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 22, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 21, 2014 - 10:15 pm
We rested today at the 14,000’ Camp, with plans in place to move up to high camp tomorrow and go for the top on Friday. We’ll see how that shakes out, as the latest weather forecast is calling for extreme winds up high for the next few days. This is a drastic change in the forecast from yesterday, which called for 10-15 mph summit winds for the next few days. If any body out there can pull any strings with the weather gods, now would be a good time.
We’ll continue to keep you up to date with our progress.

Cheers,
RMI Guide Mike Walter

The view from 14,000 ft on Mt.McKinley with snow block walls built to protect camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Make Carry to High Camp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 21, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 20, 2014 - 10:42 pm PT

Hi Everyone!

We awoke this morning to beautiful blue skies and calm winds.  Our team did an excellent job at being efficient and getting ready to make our carry.  We left just after 9 am, making us the first party out of camp, which proved to be a clutch move as teams behind us began to stream upwards and other parties reported waiting two hours at the base of the fixed lines to begin their ascent.  The carry was a good training exercise and everyone is now more comfortable cramponing on the steep blue ice and working their ascenders on the fixed ropes.  We timed it well, and were also the first group down the lines, putting us in camp early enough to enjoy some rest and relaxation in the sunshine with the boots off!

Tomorrow we plan on resting and rehydrating in anticipation of our move to high camp and summit attempt at the end of the week!
Thanks for following along! We are looking foreword to seeing friends and family soon!!

RMI Guides Solveig Waterfall, Mike Walter, Steve Gately, and the Team

Ascending the Fixed Lines. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Attempt to Carry but Fight the Winds.

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 20, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 19, 2014 - 10:20 pm PT
We had the stoves fired up bright and early this morning, preparing for an early start for our carry to above 16,000’. The skies were clear, the air was cold, and you could see snow blowing off the ridges at 17,000’ and above. As we left camp this morning the winds were just starting to pick up down lower. By the time we reached 15,000’ the winds were howling at 20-30 mph and it was brutally cold (ambient temperature was probably 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit). We quickly turned the ropes around and beat feet back to camp. We arrived back at camp amidst a ground blizzard and we all quickly retreated to the sanctuary of our sleeping bags to warm up.The winds continued into the afternoon before finally easing up. As I write this dispatch from our tent after dinner the winds are dead calm and the sky is clear above us.

Today was a good example of just how quickly conditions can change up here (and just how fickle the weather forecast is). Fortunately our team was prepared for mountain weather and we made the only prudent decision to return to the safety of our camp.

The weather forecast looks great for the next few days (for whatever that is worth), and we’re optimistic we will be able to put in a cache up high tomorrow, as always, we’ll keep you up to date with our progress.

Cheers,

RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team

Windy Corner.  RMI Photo Collection

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