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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Return to Talkeetna - Trip Complete!

The alarm was set for 11:30 PM at 8000 ft on the Kahiltna Glacier.  The rain began at 10:00 PM and continued on and off until 11:20.  Rain wouldn’t be considered a good thing if you were laying in your sleeping bag hoping that the glacial surface would freeze up in the night to permit safe and easy passage to the Southeast Fork and a possible airplane pickup.  So at the appointed wakeup time, we had a soggy glacier, groggy climbers and a murky vision of the world.  Although it is still light for twenty four hours in this part of Alaska in mid-July, it isn’t very light between about midnight and four.  But we made the decision, along with Rob Gowler’s AMS group camped nearby, to make a break for the airstrip before the storm got worse.  We were on the move by 2:00 AM and stumbling along on snowshoes in the gloom.  Surprisingly, it rained no more.  It was slow going at first, hitting big crevasses broadside, without being able to see them ahead of time and take evasive action.  But conditions improved as we got further down glacier… there had been a great deal of new snow (bridging crevasses) the sky overhead was clearing and the snow surface was consequently freezing, and it was getting lighter.  It was a great help to be backed up in route-finding by Rob and the AMS team.  Together, as the last climbers on the mountain, we worked through the early morning hours.  By seven, we’d solved all significant problems and found ourselves at the foot of “heartbreak hill”. We climbed the Southeast Fork to the airstrip and called in the ski-planes.  Conditions overhead were good, but it took a few hours until our planes could even get into the range.  The bigger storm was still coming in, but all passes into the mountains were already clogged with cloud.  We considered ourselves lucky to be flown out in the afternoon.  What followed was a whirlwind of drying/sorting gear, connecting with the outer world again and showers and shaves.  We enjoyed a fabulous West Rib victory dinner celebration,  a summit certificate awards ceremony and copious amounts of laughter over our shared experiences of the past three weeks.  Day 20… Trip done… all we could possibly have hoped for in defining a fine expedition.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn


Comments (1)

A HUGE thank you to Dave and the rest of the guides for escorting Anders and the rest of the team up and down this formidable mountain.  We appreciated all the updates, and can’t wait to hear all the details when Anders gets home.  You certainly faced some challenging weather, and your perseverance and patience paid off in the incredible summit experience.  We all appreciate it!

Posted by: the christofferson family on

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