Entries from Denali
July 7, 2022
Thursday, July 7, 2022 - 11:52 am PT
We are calling ourselves lucky. Very lucky. The clouds moved away long enough for the glacier surface to freeze up for our nighttime ramble down the lower Kahiltna. We started walking down from 11,000 at 12:30 AM. The midnight sun was beautiful on the peaks around us as we cruised down in the cool shadows. The first hours, to the base of Ski Hill, were straightforward… then things got complicated. Lots and lots of crevasse crossings. But that is where the freeze helped immensely. It also didn’t hurt that other teams preceded us, breaking into holes and showing us where not to walk. In the end we made it through without any collapsed bridges. It took about seven hours to get to the airstrip. Half the team flew off in a K2 Otter just before 10 AM but before the plane could make it back for the other half, clouds rolled in. They didn’t roll away until mid afternoon, at which point the Otter swooped in to get the job done. We were the last team on Denali for the 2022 season… and then we were just a bunch more tourists in Talkeetna with funny tans. The team had a celebratory dinner at Mile High Pizza Pie, and then a late night Cornhole tournament in the beer garden of the Fairview Inn. A little live music and a nightcap (or two) put a finish on an excellent expedition. Thanks for following.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
Photos courtesy of Dave Hahn
Congratulations to Jim Karmozyn and the entire team on a safe and successful climb and return.
Posted by: Ted Wioncek on 7/8/2022 at 12:17 pm
Woweeee! So proud of you all! What an awesome, incredible journey! We thoroughly enjoyed following along.
Diana and Tom
Posted by: Diana Weiss on 7/7/2022 at 3:24 pm
July 6, 2022
Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - 8:25 pm PT
We pulled out of 14,000' at 10:30 this morning. Winds were still blowing up high, it certainly wouldn’t have been a summit day, but much of the low cloud had cleared out. The couple of hours down around Windy Corner, across the Polo Field, down Squirrel and Motorcycle Hills were the usual insane sled rodeo. The sleds don’t like being heavy or on a side hill and so they flip a lot and we all just try to keep smiling and pulling. We set up camp -possibly our last- in early afternoon and dove in for naps. We’ve just eaten dinner now and we’re napping once more. The plan is to get up in three hours (at 10 PM) and to set off around midnight toward the airstrip on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna. We’re hoping the surface of the lower glacier freezes up hard and that our timing is just right for taking advantage of that freeze.
July 5, 2022
Monday, July 4, 2022 - 9:46 pm PT
We woke to a calm but cloudy morning at 17,200'. There was light snow falling -some of the first snowflakes we’ve had on this trip. It wasn’t too hard to be out in it for packing though. We got it all done and got walking at noon. Many careful steps were taken along the crest of the West Buttress in the clouds. We got a little surprise when we started down the fixed lines at 16,200. There was an actual squall with snow blowing in our faces as we delicately stepped down and across crevasses. Things eased as we got to 14,000' at 3 PM and re-established camp. We then had a quiet afternoon and evening of resting, relaxing and eating, with everybody making mention of how much easier life at 14,000' was compared to 17,000'.
Tomorrow we’ll hope the clouds go elsewhere as we get down to 11,000' and get set for the big walk out the lower glacier.
July 4, 2022
Monday, July 4, 2022 - 1:50 a.m. PDT
Briefly…Because it is 12:38 a.m. at 17,200 ft…we did it! Fabulous climb to the top of North America. The day started out a little more windy than predicted, so we pushed our start back to 10:15 a.m., by which time thinks were looking more promising. We went back and forth all day between a little cool and a little hot. Luckily, when we hit the top at 6:30 p.m., it was calm and easy. In fact we enjoyed it so much we spent 50 minutes on top! There was only one other team today and we will likely be some of the very last for the season. Beautiful views down into all the fascinating glaciers and valleys surrounding Denali. We picked our way carefully down, leaving the summit at 7:20 p.m. and arriving back at high camp at 11:00 p.m. Late night dinner and then crawling into sleeping bags for well earned rest.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn and team
Congratulations to Jim Karmozyn and the entire team on reaching the summit! I knew you could do it.
Posted by: Ted Wioncek on 7/7/2022 at 10:56 am
Congratulations to Yifei and the entire team! You’ve worked so hard for this and now you are literally on top of the world! Can’t wait to hear all the stories!
Posted by: VJ Ammar on 7/4/2022 at 7:36 pm
July 3, 2022
Saturday, July 2, 2022 - 8:56 pm PT
It was a rest day, although slightly less restful for taking place at 17,200'. Everything is a little harder up here. We were lucky to have a nice sunny day (again) which made it easier to relax. It was breezy from time to time, which was forecast. We’re hoping the winds quiet down, in keeping with those forecasts, for our summit day tomorrow. We ate and drank water and stared out at the amazing views. We made last minute adjustments to our packs and the gear we’ll rely on tomorrow. We talked strategy. We looked up at the “autobahn” -the route from 17,000' to Denali Pass and tried to judge its difficulty. After weeks of hard work to get in position, we are ready.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
July 2, 2022
Posted by: Dave Hahn
Friday July 1, 2022 11:25pm PDT
We were repetitive today. “What a gorgeous day” was heard over and over. We were out of our sleeping bags and firing the stoves at 7 AM and … as usual… it was calm and clear and perfect at 14,000 ft. A little cool in the shadows, but by the time we’d eaten breakfast and done another big gear sort, it was 9:50 and the sun was coming on strong. We headed up the now-familiar terrain leading to the fixed ropes and the crest of Denali’s West Buttress. The work was certainly hard, carrying big packs on steep snow, ice, and rock at high altitude, but the scenery was magnificent. It was even more magnificent once we loaded up the supplies from our cache at 16,600 and pushed on to new ground. It was a thrill to walk along the ridge crest, balancing between the big drop down to Genet Basin on one side and the Peters Glacier on the other. We rolled into 17,200 ft at about 4 PM in calm and sunny conditions and began to build our high camp.
The decision was made, over dinner in our rather compact high camp dining tent, to take a rest day tomorrow (Saturday) and to focus on a summit bid Sunday. Conditions look good for Saturday, according to the forecast, but even better for Sunday and we’d like everybody to have their best shot at the top after so much hard work.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
On on everyone! You’ve all worked SO hard. You are ALL amazing! MASSIVE GOOD LUCK guys n gals!
Posted by: Margaret Nolan on 7/2/2022 at 9:23 am
So proud of everyone and with you in spirit!! You can do this!!! Cheering you all on!!! Go, Jim, go!!!!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 7/2/2022 at 8:49 am
July 1, 2022
Thursday, June 30, 2022 11:25 pm PDT
Another beautiful day, but this was an easy one. We just rested and solidified our acclimatization today. And ate and ate and ate. It was great to see Andy’s RMI team come back into the camp at 14,000 on their way lower. We congratulated them and wished them a safe journey out.
In between afternoon naps, the team roped up and walked to the “Edge of the World” overlooking the Kahiltna Glacier’s NE Fork. Camp at 14,000 is in a broad and mostly flat basin, but at the edge, there is a fairly breathtaking view straight down… seemingly for miles. The gang enjoyed watching clouds race up the face and catching glimpses of the Cassin and West Rib climbing routes. Back at camp we had dinner in calm sunshine and prepared for the big move up to 17,200 ft.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
June 30, 2022
Thursday, July 30, 2022 10:20 am PDT
I’m going to start with the spoiler-100% of our team made it to the summit! This was very special because of the excellent chemistry we developed on this trip. To get to the summit, we had to travel across the Autobahn-clipping in and out of over 50 pickets, climb past Zebra rocks, take in the views at Denali pass, do the 100 yard dash across the football field, tackle pig hill before finally arriving on the summit ridge all while changing layers of clothing throughout the day. The summit brought tears to many of our eyes. It took us just under 7 hours to reach the summit from 17,000 camp. At the summit, everyone exchanged hugs and laughter. Some commemorated with flags and special notes for loved ones. We took lots of pictures and celebrated our hard effort before we descended back to camp in 3 hours and were completely exhausted. Our celebration included watching Steve, who carried a hula hoop he found in Talkeetna to the summit, break the world record for completing over 30 seconds of hula hooping at the highest elevation recorded for the activity. We all videoed the event for the record book.
We were blessed with incredible weather; 1st rate guides-Andy, Grayson and Ben; interesting, accomplished, funny and caring team mates.
I want to also share my own personal story which motivated me to climb Denali- The highest mountain in North America. After hiking the Appalachian trail in 2018, I decided I needed a new challenge which was tackling the highest point in every state. I quickly realized this goal included Denali and Mt Rainier and that i better get working on those two mountains since I wasn’t getting any younger. Having no mountaineering experience, I did some research and decided to climb with RMI since they guided on both mountains and came with high reviews. To get some experience, I decided to take the kahiltna seminar followed by a climb of Rainier. Covid initially delayed my plans by a year but in May 2021, I completed the Kahiltna seminar only to find out a month later that I had stage 1C ovarian cancer. I had surgery in July and started 6 rounds of chemotherapy which ended in December. I wanted to have a goal to focus on during chemo, so I signed up for the June 15th climb of Denali. Knowing this was a daunting task, I went hiking everyday during the four months of chemo no matter how sick I felt. Amazingly, I continued to get stronger and fitter and climbed a 13,000 foot mountain in Colorado in November. I think I had this overwhelming desire to push myself because I didn’t want to let cancer interrupt my goals. Another part of me wanted to do something that was as close to mentally and physically demanding as combating cancer as I could find. I certainly believe climbing Denali fulfilled that objective! Standing on the summit was thrilling but at the same time I realized the yearlong journey was the meaningful part not the single destination.
Mary-Beth and Team
Late to the party but my congratulations are just as strong. You all rock! Steve and his hula hooping self and Mary Beth. MB for you I am just without words. I was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer in 2018 and just getting through it all about broke me. Reading what you accomplished during your treatments and since is just so motivational. I’m so glad you were part of this team whose blog I followed because of Steve. The Universe sure is magical.
Posted by: Melanee Strootman on 7/5/2022 at 10:12 am
Congratulations to the whole team!! What an accomplishment for you all. Mary Beth you’re just amazing and I can’t wait to hear what your next adventure might be.
Posted by: Jan Sgroi on 7/2/2022 at 9:44 am
June 30, 2022
Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 10:32 pm PT
This was a big and beautiful day on Denali. Sunny from start to finish with barely a puff of wind all day. So we made good use of it. We were up at 7 and out of camp by 8:50 in the morning shadows. We powered on up the hills just out of camp that steepened to headwalls a few hours along. The team did great in managing the fixed ropes on the steep ice leading to the crest of the West Buttress. We were at the top of the ropes by 12:15 PM where we took a short break looking out over about half the planet. We proceeded up the ridge for some interesting climbing, putting our hands on clean granite while our crampons worked up firm snow. At 16,600 ft -the base of “Washburn’s Thumb” we declared victory and dug a cache for the supplies we’d carried. We made our way back down, slowly and carefully, reaching camp at 14,000' about 7 and a half hours after we’d departed. Just in time for a pre-dinner nap. The team was excited to hear of Andy Bond’s team tagging the top in perfect conditions today. We look forward to seeing them back down at 14,000' tomorrow. We’ll be resting and getting ready to move up to 17,000' when we get the opportunity.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
Way to go team!
Diana and Tom
Posted by: Diana Weiss on 6/30/2022 at 9:27 am
Amazing progress everyone!
You are all AMAZING!
Posted by: Margaret Nolan on 6/30/2022 at 9:07 am
June 30, 2022
Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 5:40 pm PT
RMI Guide Andy Bond and the entire Denali Expedition June 15th team reached the summit of Denali, North America's highest peak around 5:40 pm PT. Andy reported a beautiful day, light winds and a climbing time of 6 hours from High Camp to the summit. We are happy to report that along with all of the team members on the summit was the hula hoop complete with video proof.
As of 10 pm PT, the team had safely returned to High Camp for the evening.
Congratulations to the June 15th Denali Expedition!
Bravo à tous !!! Vous vous êtes surpassés!!!
Posted by: Delphine on 7/2/2022 at 12:30 pm
Hello and congratulations to the team and now a few french words for Yann : bravo à toi et à toute l’équipe, c’est super. A bientôt.
Hugues et Amaury
Posted by: Hugues PECQUEUX on 6/30/2022 at 10:54 am