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Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team take walk towards summit

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

On The Map

Comments (9)

Kristin,  We are rooting for all of you !...keep us posted…..safe travels…..Debbie, Rich, Sean and Jen

Posted by: Debbie Collins on

Brent and Kristen, keep it up!  You’re being thought of by many down here at sea level.

Posted by: Bob Maher on

Kristen & team - In 2001 I stayed 8 days at 14 camp and in 2003 I spent a night in snow cave at 16. It is all part of the adventure. Keep up the spirit. Watch for that window!

Posted by: John Mitchler on

Congrats to the Team!  Patience, perseverance and a positive attitude will win the day!  I remain with you in your efforts.  Safe journeys.  Phil

Posted by: phil usher on

Gary, Your hike up Mt. McKinley has been fascinating. Your view may be cloudy, but your conversations inside the tents will never be forgotten. Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Vickers on

Kristen Kristen Kristen! I’m starting to think it you that brings all this bad weather. First SNOW in Hawaii and our needing to walk up Mauna Kea and now a week stuck right next to the summit of Denali! I’m calling Aunt Catherine to hang out the rosary beads to clear the weather. Love the picture of you in the new gear! Hope it’s keeping you toasty. Wishing everyone a safe summit tomorrow. Just a hunch!!!

Posted by: Timothy Kelliher MD on

Gary,  Thanks for the hugs and kisses.  All is well here so no worries.  We did get a laugh out of how even this trip turned into “just around the corner” or “just a little bit further”!  You’ve nudged us on during those trips and we are sending you a nudge on this one!  We know given a chance weather wise you will do it!  Hugs & Kisses back at you.

Posted by: Angela & Ian on

Kristen, This is gogo, part of your extended family that is following you and your group. I’m glad you have such great guides. I think about the time you were 9 and you stopped here after climbing some of the highest points. Now you’re hanging on the side of Mt. McKinley! Be Safe, that’s most important.
greetings to all, love, gogo

Posted by: Gloria Brangwynne on

I recall being stuck overnight with you..on a ledge on our descent from the Matterhorn summit. 1990 I believe. Still creating epic adventures I see. Hope the weather clears. Good luck.
Martin Pazzani

Posted by: Martin Pazzani on

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More Updates


Mt. McKinley: Jones & Team Make Carry Towards High Camp

June 18, 2012

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Jones & Team Make Carry Towards High Camp


June 10, 2012

Four Day Summit Climb

Mt. Rainier: June 10th Update

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