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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Getting Started

Friday, June 28th, 2013
As planned, we fired up the stoves shortly after our 1 AM wake up.  The plan in getting up so early, was to be moving during the coldest part of the day when we could hope that the glacial surface would be frozen solid.  That would make sled hauling and walking in general a lot easier than pulling through slush, but more importantly, a freeze would make things safer, bridging the crevasses we’d need to cross.  It was apparent this morning, as we ate breakfast and took down tents, that we weren’t going to get a hard freeze.  Temperatures hadn’t dipped low enough, and there was cloud overhead that seemed to act as a warm, damp blanket, insulating the glacier and messing with our plans.  But things had firmed up a little anyway, and by 4:15 AM when we hit the trail, snowshoes were doing the job in preventing “post-holing”.  Rigging up properly for such travel is far more complicated when sleds are in the mix, so the fact that it took some time to get organized was not unexpected.  That extra time paid off when we were able to move good and steady without any gear glitches or malfunctions.  The first hour took us down about 500 feet in elevation to the main Kahiltna Glacier where we turned North.  We began to meet a few rope teams on their way out and it was great to meet an old friend or two in passing and to hear of their adventures on the mountain.  Our second and third hour-long pulls took us past Mount Francis (hiding in cloud) and the junction with the East Fork of the Kahiltna.  By the fourth and fifth sections of the climb we passed the Kahiltna Peaks and made it to the NE Fork junction… about where we wanted to be at the base of Ski Hill.  By this point we were thankful to have cloud cover giving us relief from the sun as we built camp and crawled into tents for an afternoon snooze. 

After a quiet and easy afternoon in the tents, we met for dinner in the deluxe POSH dining complex dug by Zeb, Erik and Mike King.  We turned in early once again anticipating another early start tomorrow. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn


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