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Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Move to 14,000’ Camp

Update: 5/29/13
For the last 20 minutes, the shadow of the upper mountain has been creeping across 14,000ft camp. While its never dark here, the temperature drops significantly when the sun slides out of sight. We are now warm and safe in our sleeping bags, and ready to rest after a long day in the sun.

This morning we awoke at 11,000 ft to a crisp clear morning. After only three days at 11k, the place felt like home. All our team members sat in their preferred (and now regular) locations in our dinning shelter. And after an oatmeal breakfast everyone returned to their respective tents on well worn paths.

We then disassembled camp. What had been a home, dissolved into a series of tools and pieces of fabric. After an hour, we were ready to leave. Snow walls proudly protected our empty camp as we headed to 14,000 ft.

The route was familiar - we took the same route to cash gear yesterday. The team climbed even stronger today. Moral was high and the views were spectacular. As we neared 14,000ft, the sun was directly overhead. While Denali can be a harsh wintery environment, it can also feel like a solar oven. The glaciers act like mirrors and there is no shade. We left camp bundled up and arrived dropping with sweat.

We made our way to an old campsite at 14k and refurbished it. We leveled existing tent platforms, dug out a cook shelter and made ourselves at home. From our new home, we have a clear view of the upper mountain. All afternoon we watched climbers and skiers high above us.

We are all excited to get up high. But we also know that there is work to be done. We must train, collect our gear from 13,500 and bring more gear up high. For now, sleep is a priority. We’ve earned it.

RMI Guides Logan, Leah and Brent

On The Map

Comments (24)

Hey Jo (Gerald) awesome following the trip sounds like going well and weather treating you right stay strong bro. See you soon


Posted by: Mike weber on

Hey Betzalel and Ayla,

Gavi and I just wanted to tell you that we are so proud of you guys, and amazed by your adventurousness (if that’s even a word).  We are def stalking your blog and can’t wait to see you summit!  Also, we heard you guys got the go-pro - so sorry we didn’t get around to getting it for you, but don’t worry we’ll get you an even better wedding present! Anyway, hope you are doing well, missing you tons!!!!!

Posted by: Yael & Gavi on

Hi Gerald! I know I said I wouldn’t look—but the girls and I have been following every day:) From the sound of things it looks like you are having a great adventure.  We miss you lots and are so, so proud that you are chasing this dream.  Be safe, pay attention and be on time (haha) xxo Aliki, Riley & Charlotte.

Posted by: Aliki on

Way to go Dennis, great progress!  You guys are really moving.  Looking forward to hear about the trip to the summit!  Take care!

Posted by: Scott Uhlir on

Monica! So excited for you to make the summit! Keep up the great work. I cant wait to follow in your footsteps in a few years!

Posted by: Nick B on

Monica, I’m so proud of you and the team!! I read the blog every day and scan the pictures hoping to get a peek of you. Of course, you all look the same, covered the way you are, so I just assume that you’re in every picture! HA! I’m so glad to see the sun shining and hope that the weather stays nice and perfectly cold for you all. You are amazing!!! I can’t wait to hear all the gory details! Be safe! Love you!! XOXOXOXO

Posted by: Leslie on

Hi Monica:
Very exciting! Our faces are glued to every blog, and we bask in the successes of the entire team.
Lucca would like to be up there pulling your sled.
You must have reached Landjager altitude.
Glad the weather has your back!
All the very, very, very best,
Love M&D

Posted by: John and Marianne on

Jeff Hooper (dad)
You are doing great!  We keep telling everyone, what you are doing.  Enjoy the rest and keep moving towards the top
Love Kenny

Posted by: Veronica Hooper on

Erich, your mom and I hope your having a great time in that frozen tundra because we are having the time of our life spending your inheritance. I know Amberly misses you and want you to enjoy yourself on Denali because she didn’t add “because your not going to Everest”!!!!

Posted by: dad on

Erich, Hey son hope your having a good time up there because your mother and I are having a blast spending you inheritance. I know Amerbly made mention about having a good time while up there but she left off the part “because your not going to Everest”. :)

Posted by: dad on

Hi Ayla and Betzalel and team,

A short while ago Yirme and Rechie had a beautiful baby girl!!!  We all thrilled and can’t wait to see her.  Unfortunately we will have to wait until the summer :( but I hear she is amazing.  Waiting for pics.  I’m not sure who is more exciting them or you guys but I know one thing we sure do have a lot of exciting and wonderful things to be thankful for.  It is so fun seeing the pics of your progress.  You make it look so simple.

Love you, Mom and Dad

Posted by: Nancy on

Gerald!!! It’s so cool to be able to follow you guys on here. Btw, I didn’t know Denali and Mt McKinley were the same. Was a little confused but got it now. Take care and enjoy my brother! - Mike

Posted by: Mike Arahill on

Erich, Amberly is keeping us all updated via Facebook wtih these posts. Stay alive, and enjoy this more than anything else (because I’ve been talking your fiance about keeping you away from Everest!) Hee, hee!! I can’t imagine the weather there…as it was 65 degrees this morning here by the time I left the house at 6:45 a.m.  I still think a beach on Hawaii sounds much better than what you’re doing, but to each his own. Stay safe and have fun!

Posted by: Emily on

To Gerold,
Proud of you Brother, love reading your updated progress. looking good,keep it up (To the Top)as George would say.Take alot of pics. if you can.


Posted by: Steve on

Brent, Ayla, Virgil and Ayla
It really sounds like everyone is performing well and the team is jelling!  Keep on taking care if yourselves, helping each other and persisting!!!  Your are really inspiring!!!!  Thanks!!!!!

Posted by: Fred Klingbeil on

Yo Gerald!  We are with you every step.  Great progress!  This is so exciting.  The whole team rocks!!! I love the great updates keep ‘em coming, I’m addicted to them.

Enjoy the sunshine, stay strong and god speed!

Love to all,


Posted by: Rob Carrizzo on

Wow!! It’s really amazing what you are accomplishing. We are all following your progress and can’t wait to hear all the amazing stories. Stay warm and strong.

Posted by: Michael Blitz on

“...what a disgrace it would be for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Said by Socrates, typed by Eva.

Posted by: Eva on

Way to go Virg and team!  So proud of you. One step at a time. Enjoy every moment of your experience.

Posted by: Rachel on

A and B-
This is the most amazing adventure!!! I can’t tell you how impressed I am by the endurance you have and all that is required of you. You are heroic (and way beyond Ishi).
I feel like I am bonding with Brent, Leah, and Logan through the blog. Their descriptions of life on this expedition and artful photos keep us close to the team and to the two of you.(Thanks guys!)
Wishing all of you sure footing, inner strength, and high spirits as you continue to push forward. And, of course, hoping your socks will dry out!!!
Loving you more than words can describe…

Posted by: doni on

Hello team! Shout out to MONICA! You go girl. It must just be breathtaking up there. You continue to be on my prayer list for strong backs, tough soles, and beautiful clear blue skies!  Love!  Ivory

Posted by: Ivory on

Monica and Team, The pictures are totally amazing, you are indeed in a heavenly place, enjoy and savor every moment! You have earned it! :)

Posted by: Meredith on

Monica, great progress…your team is kicking butt.  Keep it up, stay strong, enjoy…

Posted by: Fletch on

Erich, I’m so proud of you!I officially have the coolest most B.A. “finance” ever! :) I keep trying to pick you out of some of the pictures but you all look the same all bundled up! I thought your height might play to my advantage, but it has not! *sigh* Everything is fine back home, same ole, same ole. Missing you and I think about you ALL THE TIME and what you might be doing at that very moment! I hope you’re having the time of your life and just enjoying every moment. Take good pictures, stay safe, strong and warm! I love you!

Posted by: Amberly on

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More Updates


May 28, 2013

Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir

Mt. Rainier: Seminar Trains at Camp Muir


Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Ready for Summit Bid

May 16, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Ready for Summit Bid

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