Mt. McKinley: Okita & Team Tackle the Fixed Ropes

Posted by: | June 01, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Friday, May 31, 2013
Excitement, trepidation, anxiousness and a whole slew of other emotions ran through the team last night and this morning as we prepared to make our carry up the fixed ropes to 16,200’ and beyond. How would we do on terrain steeper than any most of us have yet tackled? How would we do with the altitude? Everyone had similar questions that only time would answer.
Our day started in the early morning before the sun hit camp. Temps were probably around 0-5 F. But we knew we wanted to avoid any traffic jams on the fixed ropes if possible. And an early start would help insure a smooth ascent.
An hour and a half and 1,200’ above camp the sun finally warmed our bodies. It amazes me still how in a five minute period it can go from bitingly cold to almost sweaty hot. With the fixed lines above we were psyched that we would have warm conditions to deal with them.
We all progressed well up the lines, so well that everyone wanted to continue further up the West Buttress to make our cache.
With climbing conditions on the ridge in great shape our progress was good, and before we knew it we were less than an hour from 17,200’ camp. Although a challenge to climb at that altitude, everyone was up to going all the way to camp. Most people find just getting up to 16,200’ challenge enough. But around 3:00pm we were there!
What made this day so especially memorable was the fact that this was the first time in my twenty three Mt. McKinley expeditions that the entire team had made it all the way to 17,200’ camp.
We’re back at 14,200’ camp now and are looking forward to another well deserved rest day. After dinner we enjoyed reading all your blog replies. Thanks so much for all the support!
Good night from 14,000’

RMI Guides Brent, Logan and Leah

Ascending the fixed lines on Mt. McKinley toward 16,200 ft.  Photo: Katy Laveck Looking down toward the 14,000 ft camp on Mt. McKinley.

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Monica and team, I hope the weather cooperates tomorrow! I’ve been calling in all my favors to Mother Nature.. Hopefully it’ll work! I’m so happy for you all to have made it to 17,200, now all on to the summit! Good luck!!! Miss you! XOXO

Posted by: Leslie on 6/4/2013 at 9:20 pm

Awesome work team.  You all rock! Keep pushing on!

Posted by: Rob Carrizzo on 6/2/2013 at 5:32 am

Hey Virg! What are you doing wandering around the hills??? We have fires to put out & lives to save! Happy belated 55th Virg….and what a way to celebrate life…an expedition! Good luck & way to go!

Posted by: Jeff Cooper on 6/2/2013 at 5:18 am

WOW! That is wonderful!  We are all so proud of you Virg and the whole team.  We are all watching daily. Keep it up and we are looking forward to hearing all about this great experience!  We all love you very much!
Mom Dad Nora Joe Ed Tina and Jacob

Posted by: Nora Hall on 6/2/2013 at 4:42 am

“What made this day so especially memorable was the fact that this was the first time in my twenty three Mt. McKinley expeditions that the entire team had made it all the way to 17,200’ camp.”  WOW TEAM ... WHAT AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, FROM A SENIOR GUIDE AND PROFESSIONAL, REGARDING YOUR PERFORMANCE.  Congratulations!!!

It is so neat to see how your previous training, attention to learning how to safely climb (RMI Training Course), and fortitude is paying off.  You are inspiring all of us to push ouselves further!!! 

Please continue to concentrate on putting your safety first,  taking care of yourselves, focusing on the tasks at hand and helping each other.


Posted by: Fred Klingbeil on 6/2/2013 at 3:42 am

Erich, I’m so impressed at the progress you and the team are making! Sounds like a fantastic group! Much better than Ranier’s experience I’d say! :) I can’t wait to be able to hear all about this trip from you. Keep up the hard work, stay strong and be safe! Thinking about you and the team on the rest of this journey!! I love you!
Oh, by the way,  I now have a furry, four legged friend to keep me company until you return, his name is Tristan and he’s a cutie! I promise to not get too attached (maybe). I learned my lesson ( a little bit) with BC. Yard sale was a success today, too! I know you’re sorry you missed out on that today! ;) Missing you!

Posted by: Amberly Abbott on 6/1/2013 at 1:47 pm

Hey, you are almost there! Look forward to the pictures from the top! So glad everyone is doing so well.

Posted by: Karen on 6/1/2013 at 11:37 am

Congratulations to all! Enjoy your rest today and best of luck tomorrow. Go Monica!

Posted by: Kate on 6/1/2013 at 10:01 am

Hi Monica:
How thrilling that the whole team made it to 17,200!
We have invoked Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind and winter, to create favorable weather for the next and then the final ascent.
Thank you Brent for your wonderfully informative blogs!
Much love,

Posted by: Marianne and John on 6/1/2013 at 9:37 am

Monica and team, the pictures of you all on fixed lines looked so steep and impressive! I am amazed at the skill and strength of all of you! Have a good rest day and we will be thinking of you.

Posted by: Kyle and Melissa Ritter on 6/1/2013 at 9:33 am

A very inspiring accomplishment for everyone!!  Sounds like a very solid, strong team.  Keeping my fingers crossed for the weather to hold favorable for you.

-Larry Seaton

Posted by: Larry Seaton on 6/1/2013 at 8:56 am

You’re crushing it! Way to go! What a team!  Gerald showed us the fixed lines on video. Pretty sick!

Posted by: Mike Arahill on 6/1/2013 at 8:55 am

Very exciting to follow the teams progress, nice job all!  Virgil, I’m very jealous of your adventure.  Continued good conditions and safe climbing to you all!

Posted by: Jeff Wood on 6/1/2013 at 8:51 am

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