Entries By tim hardin

Mt. McKinley: Hahn and Team Waiting for Stability

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | July 10, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

We all thought it was a little colder than predictions called for last night.  It might have been as low as 10 below zero Fahrenheit, but that is just a guess.  But that would have been because the sky finally cleared.  It was clear through much of the morning and early afternoon, but nobody went climbing.  There are perhaps eight or ten groups here at 14,200 ft, between guided and smaller non-guided teams, but all of us shared a great respect for the new fallen snow and its need to settle.  Neither the teams that are throwing in the towel and looking to go down, nor those of us that are looking to go up, want to get impatient and get avalanched.  So we took it easy today and hoped that the sun would shine hard enough to heat up the snow and settle the hazard.  We watched the last National Park Service Ranger Patrol of the season work with their B3 helicopter for a good chunk of the day to sling load all of their equipment and personnel out of camp and off the hill.  My gang practiced the techniques we plan to employ for getting up the “fixed ropes” on the steep terrain between 15,000 and 16,200 ft.  We also built a new walled latrine with all of the modern conveniences.  And we waited.  Patiently.  We received a bunch more great messages from the blog (they were relayed to us as we don’t actually surf the web up here) and those produced plenty of smiles and laughter.  Thank You.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team camped at 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mark: Hopefully tomorrow is the day that you will continue your climb. The photos are all breath taking. Looks like alot of fun but also alot of work. Enjoy the… read more

Posted by: Mary McDonald on 7/10/2012 at 9:03 am

Brian, another day of relaxation - you should be nice and rested when you return. We are keeping our fingers crossed that tomorrow will be the lucky day and you… read more

Posted by: Robin, Tristan and Connor on 7/10/2012 at 7:52 am


Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team - Shoveling Clients, Sleeping Guides

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | July 08, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Plenty of snow came down overnight and throughout the day.  The team did a great job getting out in the night to dig out tents, despite the mean winds that made the morning a bit rough.  By about 10 AM though, winds were lessening and we were able to have a group breakfast in the rebuilt POSH tent.  Walking even a few steps out of camp, one was generally up to mid-thigh in the new snow… meaning we didn’t walk out of camp much.  We let it snow.  We rested. We read.  We chatted.  We passed time and then we ate dinner.  The eight o’clock weather forecast was eagerly anticipated and it actually gave some reason for optimism this time. We were told that the snows would fade this evening and that tomorrow (Monday) wouldn’t be half bad.  And that is good.  We need a day that includes a bit of sun to settle the avalanche hazard surrounding us.

As we came out from dinner and prepared camp for another night of storm, we were pleased to get a break.  The sun appeared (briefly) and we were able to see the entire West Buttress and South Peak and even a splash of blue sky overhead.  Perhaps it was the new snow covering everything or maybe it was because we hadn’t had much scenery at all to look at lately, but we found the view to be breathtaking and brilliant. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team 14K and a Snow Day

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | July 07, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

The weather forecast was right on this time… A day of snow.  It was a little bit like the inside of a milk bottle for most of the time.  There were a few hours when the clouds were thinner and the sun’s heat could be felt through the storm, but the snowflakes never quit falling. It was not going to be a climbing day for our team and so we turned it into a fine rest day.  Solveig Waterfall taught an excellent course in avalanche beacon use.  Tim Hardin and Cody Doolan built the mother of all snow kitchens.  The team listened patiently to old guide stories and chatted over the current events we could pick up from the Anchorage FM stations.  We had a few sessions of cutting snow blocks and building walls around the tents.  Mostly this was done for exercise and to get warm, since as yet this particular storm hasn’t come with the wind which would necessitate walls.  We are happy for that and are somewhat resigned to another day or two of this same system. 

Best,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

McKinley Tents on a Snowy Day

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Back Carry Supplies to 14K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | July 06, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Our first night at 14 camp went well.  Not that folks didn’t notice the altitude and the cold here in Genet Basin, but everybody showed up for bacon and bagels breakfast in a reasonably cheerful state.  We didn’t get up early, since it takes the sun until about 9:30 AM to get far enough around Denali’s South Peak to shine on us.  And we took our sweet time getting geared up for our “back carry” -the mission to retrieve our cache below Windy Corner from three days ago.

We left 14K at 10 minutes past noon and made fine time getting down around the corner.  It was another windless day where we were, but we could see that the gang at 17 camp was catching it in the teeth.  The cache was right where we’d left it and it didn’t look like the ravens had even bothered trying to dig into it.  We loaded up and began the slow walk back uphill over the now familiar terrain.  We were back a little before 5 PM.  Job done and the approach finished.  Now we can focus on the climb. Via the radio, we knew that Adam Knoff and his crew were quitting high camp and descending ahead of a multi-day storm.  They had our sympathy, obviously, but we looked forward to seeing them at 14.  They didn’t stay too long as they wanted to get down around the end of the West Buttress before the snow started falling.  The evening was the calm before whatever storm we’ll get though.  We still had good views of Mount Foraker, across the way, but it and every other peak, was stacked high with lenticular clouds… something is coming.  But we’ve got everything we need to deal with such things, and we are dug into our fortress at fourteen.

Best,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Windy Corner. Photo: Dave Hahn Climbing towards Windy Corner

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn and Team Move to 14 Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | July 06, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

It wasn’t a flawless day.  There were plenty of clouds about, and it looked mean and nasty up high on the mountain, but it was certainly nice enough where we were.  We left 11 camp at ten minutes past ten, ground on up motorcycle and squirrel hills in low gear and came out into the polo fields below the end of the West Buttress.  Another good uphill walk took us past our cache point from the other day and into definitely-not-windy-corner.  We went around the corner in perfect conditions, but all agreed it was pretty tough traversing the snowy side hill with a sled threatening to pull one off the track.  It began to snow on us a bit, but by this point it was welcome as it kept us from overheating as we wound around, between and over the top of giant crevasses on the final hour into our destination.  We pulled into camp at 14,200 ft at a few minutes past five, completing our biggest day yet.  Temps were noticeably cooler up so high and there was a light breeze blowing through 14 camp, so we couldn’t pause long enough to pat ourselves on the back or to gaze up in wonder at the West Buttress and the South Peak of Denali... we needed to get tents up and anchored down.  We simultaneously got that done, a kitchen up and running to melt large quantities of snow (we were all parched), a dining area dug in and covered and a latrine in place.  We are getting well practiced at high altitude, cold-camp construction. 
Just as we sat down for dinner at 8 PM, it was time to turn on a radio to catch the nightly forecast for mountain weather.  It isn’t a terribly stable outlook, but we do hope Adam Knoff’s RMI team at 17,200 ft can hang in there and get lucky.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Ascending to 14 Camp on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection Passing Windy Corner on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Cache Supplies and Head Back to 11K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | July 03, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

And we were getting so lucky with weather to this point…  Ah well, we did our best to make use of a break in the snow and wind today.  It started, here at 11,000 ft, with a snowy and socked-in morning.  Many a team leader came out of his or her tent and then went right back inside, waiting for something better to work with.  We were up at 7… but then gave it a pass until 8 and then we took a look at 9 and had breakfast.  Things did start looking up by 10 and a few teams went for it.  We liked the trend by 11 since we were seeing a lot of blue sky above (the uppermost part of the mountain was still in cloud) and only some indication of wind here and there.  We were wearing our spikes and carrying our ice axes out of camp by 12:20.  Our intention was to carry food and fuel up and around Windy Corner, cache it and then drop back down to 11 camp.  The first hour went great.  That was spent on “Motorcycle Hill” which was far steeper than any hill we’d tackled so far on the climb.  From the top of Motorcycle, we could see winds starting to whip at the top of “Squirrel Hill” our goal for the next hour.  We topped the hill in a fairly vicious and cold breeze and pushed on into the “Polo Fields” below the end of the West Buttress.  From there, we had a good view of Windy Corner, which looked… you guessed it, windy.  We decided not to push things too far, although the team was handling everything just fine to this point.  We chose a cache site at about 12,850 ft and dug in.  The only reason for burying it all is that ravens long ago developed a taste for climber food and a talent for ripping a cache to shreds.  We couldn’t see any ravens, but by this point in the day we were seeing a lot of blowing snow and swirling cloud again.  With light packs, we made good time getting down the hills and back into 11k.  We were home by 5:30 and dining in the shelter of our posh tent by 7:00 while the storm intensified.  It isn’t a terrible storm yet, just some wind and snow, but we hope it plays out overnight and leaves us in peace. 

Your messages to the web site were passed on to us and were thoroughly enjoyed by all the team.  Thanks for the well wishes… keep those fingers crossed.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Camp at 11,000 feet, Kahiltna Done in the Distance. Photo: Dave Hahn

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn and Team Move to 9,500’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | July 01, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 9,500'

Another early start and another straightforward move up in perfect conditions.  We got up at 3 AM and ate breakfast in the cool shadows blanketing our 7800 ft camp.  On our second day of climbing, it was already becoming routine to knock down the tents and get packs and sleds squared away for travel.  We were roped up and moving up Ski Hill by 5:45.  The hills were big and the loads were as well, but we slowed the pace and worked our way up.  Again, we found the surface frozen hard and easy for sledding and walking without sinking in.  Distances weren’t terribly significant and it only took us three and a half hours to reach the top of the hills at around 9500 ft.  We built a camp and dove into the tents just as the sun started heating the giant reflector oven of the upper Kahiltna Glacier.  Afternoon was spent in slumber, or in reading, or in watching iPod movies, or in snacking and drinking water.  Some did it all.  We sat in our “POSH” dining tent chatting for a few hours at dinner.  At 8 PM we tuned in our radio to catch the mountain specific weather forecast (which calls for a little bit of snow at our elevation tonight).  Far more entertaining was our conversation with the other RMI teams on the mountain.  We were excited for Mike Walter’s summit and safe return to high camp and to hear that Adam Knoff and his gang are good to go for moving to 17,000 ft tomorrow.  If our good luck holds, we’ll cruise on up to 11,000 ft tomorrow with our strong and steady team.
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team camped at 9,500 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection Mt Hunter and Mt Francis from the Kahiltna Glacier. Photo: Dave Hahn

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Mt. McKinley: Dave Hahn and Team Waiting in Talkeetna

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | June 29, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 358'

Update at 12:12 pm PST: The team is flying into basecamp!  The weather cooperated for flights and we expect to hear from the team once they are settled on the glacier.

12:00 am PST:
The plan was for us to get started with our Denali expedition today.  We needed good mountain flying weather.  We had high hopes, but as it turned out, we also had low clouds.  It was on the dark and rainy side if things as we finished breakfast and walked out toward the airstrip in Talkeetna.  During the course of the day, the cloud cover would lighten here and there and we monitored alternating reports that it was getting better or worse now and again at our intended basecamp on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier… But in the end, the upshot was that conditions never really got good enough for our pilots to risk flights into the range. 

The team took the delay without great concern, we passed the time hanging at the hangar, playing ping pong, listening to music and catching up on email and current events.  We enjoyed fine Talkeetna meals at various restaurants and we took advantage of the comforts of one more day of civilization.  Into the mountains tomorrow.  Possibly.

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The Team Photo: Dave Hahn

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Mt. McKinley: Dave Hahn and Team Ready in Talkeenta

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Solveig Waterfall | June 28, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 358'

We’ve finished one of the more challenging days of any Denali climbing expedition... Packing, sorting gear and generally getting organized for leaving Talkeetna and getting on the mountain.  It wasn’t all hard work and suffering though, we certainly enjoyed a great breakfast at the Roadhouse.  National Park Service personnel at the Talkeetna Ranger Station gave us a warm welcome and Joe Reichert delivered a fine and informative orientation slideshow.  Our flight team out at K2 Aviation made us feel right at home in their hangar, which was where we got our food, tents, stoves, ropes, pots, shovels, fuel, snow saws, snow shoes, packs, ice axes, boots, crampons, sleeping bags, etc, etc, and etc. ready. 

Finally, we’d earned a break and a relaxing dinner at The West Rib Pub.  Folks then drifted home early for a last comfy night in the Talkeetna Motel.  The plan is for the team to meet bright and early for breakfast and then to hustle on out to the airstrip… If all goes well and the weather is stable, we could be loading airplanes shortly after 8AM and then winging our way toward the Alaska Range.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An evening sunset in Talkeetna, AK.  Photo: Linden Mallory An RMI Team preparing for their expedition.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Seeing the glaciers, etc. brings back some good memories we had landing on our recent trip - we can only imagine the beauty you will experience, Mark.  Nice to follow… read more

Posted by: Vi and Don Bienert on 6/28/2012 at 12:59 pm

You look so happy. Nice to see your face. Be safe. I miss you.  Love and kisses, Mary

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Posted by: Mary McDonald on 6/28/2012 at 10:55 am


Mt Rainier: Expedition Skills Seminar Technical Training at Muir

Posted by: JJ Justman, Dan Windham, Alex Barber, Katie Bono | June 07, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 10,080'

Today we are training at Camp Muir.  The weather is not cooperating with our training, but we are having fun teaching and using advanced techniques for our very advanced clientele. It is very winter like here at Camp Muir a lot of snow and a lot of wind.  Our last session will be navigation, and that will come in handy tomorrow getting down the Muir Snowfield.

JJ, Dan & the Expedition Team

Technical Training inside the hut at Camp Muir. Photo - JJ Justman
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