Entries from Denali
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
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
What an amazing accomplishment!!! Congrats to you all. I had tears of joy just reading the blog. So proud and excited for you (steve marker). donna
Posted by: Donna Palumbo on 7/1/2022 at 11:58 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
June 29, 2022
Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 11:42 pm PT
Let me tell you about the pain cave. It’s made of self doubt stalactites and poorly spaced foot buckets where you think you have found purchase with your crampons and yet they slide again and again. It’s got stalagmites forged from the tears of mountaineers who came before you. It’s a fearsome place indeed. But we are a powerful team and WE CARRY ON.
That is right readers, this intrepid group scaled the hairy fixed lines once again to move our camp to 17,000' today. What stroke of luck to have such incredible weather for our move day. To be traversing the airy Washburns’s Thumb in nothing but a sun hoody is the stuff of dreams. Our RMI guides continue to provide important services such as lying to us about the steepness of the grade on the trail we cannot yet see, and assurances that today will likely be considered a harder day than our planned summit day tomorrow. Andy, keep up the bluffing, it’s working like a charm.
Todays highlights included Steve’s reunion with his hula hoop, the view from 17 Camp when we finally arrived, the fact that most of us are higher than we’ve ever been, and the team spirit embodied by Yann who selflessly swung into action helping his teammates set up tents when they arrived exhausted. There was also the traffic on the running belays which was reminiscent of Seattle’s I-5, but really, who can complain when it’s a fraction of the normal peak season crowd.
With a bit of rest this evening, some much needed calories (an entire mountain house plus snacks), and a continuous deep well of motivation to draw from, we sit eager with anticipation for tomorrow - the big day!!!
RMI Climber Holly
Love that you guys are embracing the suck! Go team, Go!
Posted by: Steve Polovick on 6/30/2022 at 7:01 am
Team Bond you’re crushing it! Keep pushing through the pain and moving forward. Looking forward to hearing about you conquering summit day.
Posted by: Cortney on 6/29/2022 at 5:53 pm
June 29, 2022
Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 9:51 pm PT
We did our “back-carry” today. Our cache above Windy Corner only took about twenty minutes to walk down to and an hour or so to walk back with. So we got that done in the mid morning hours before the sun got too intense. Much of this first full day at 14,200' was a rest day. We did a short training session in the afternoon to review techniques we’ll use on the fixed ropes protecting the steep terrain between 15,000 and 16,200 ft. The weather was even better today than yesterday… calm and sunny throughout. Tomorrow we are hoping to carry supplies up onto the West Buttress.
Jim says, “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, SHARON!!”
Aww, Jim! You’re a keeper! And Happy Anniversary!
We daily are following you and your team’s awesome adventure!
Keep up the good work!
Diana and Tom
Posted by: Diana Weiss on 6/29/2022 at 10:08 pm
Hey, Jim. Happy Anniversary to you, almost on top of the world!!! So proud of your accomplishments! You made Sharon’s day!!! Love, your sister!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 6/29/2022 at 3:45 pm
June 28, 2022
Monday, June 27, 2022 - 10:55 pm PT
Today was our third full rest day of the trip and it was glorious! We began by sleeping in and trying very hard to harmonize the incredible snoring coming from our tents.
When the sun drenched our tents and we finally came out for the day, three of us surprised the rest of the team with neon wigs that I brought from the costume closet back in Baltimore. I wore the Orange ‘bob’, Matt rocked the highlighter yellow shoulder length look, and Mr. Hyde Carby stole the show with the flowing pink curls. The wigs brought lots of laughter and Andy was sure to sport the pink curls as the last RMI expedition of the season rolled into 14,000' Camp early this afternoon.
We continue taking each day as a learning opportunity and today we learned that the synch cords at the bottom of your jacket are incredibly handy when trying to use a clean mountain can in 0 degree weather.
We had a delicious rest day feast of more bagels and cream cheese, smoked salmon, and breakfast burritos. We learned our lesson from the last rest day and only ate 2 bagels and one breakfast burrito per person.
To stretch our legs and work out some anxiety about the high mountain above us, we took a stroll across 14,000' Camp to the ‘Edge of the World’, a 6,000’ sheer cliff that drops from 14,000' to the valley below. Grayson belayed us one by one to the edge and we got epic photos courtesy of our personal photographer and guide Ben.
Back at camp, Andy convened a team meeting. After checking in to see how everyone was feeling, and double checking to make sure we were honestly feeling good, he gave us the good news. The weather on the high mountain for Tuesday and Wednesday is looking terrific and we are going to begin our summit push tomorrow!
We spent much of the afternoon preparing what we will carry up, and what we will cache here at 14 Camp. I’m also personally excited to be reunited with the hula hoop tomorrow when we pick up our cache at the top of the fixed lines. In case you are wondering, I do look like a turtle when the hoop is attached to my pack and I am very slowly moving up the mountain.
Now our job is to rest and prepare for the next 72 hours of intensity and focus as a team - we are feeling strong and are excited to support each other to accomplish our shared goal of summiting The Great One with 100% of our team!
RMI Climber Steve
Thank you for the posts - it is great following along, living vicariously!
Cheering you all on everyday.
Posted by: Prairie Sky on 6/28/2022 at 2:44 pm
June 28, 2022
Monday, June 27, 2022 - 10:52 pm PT
This was a fine day of climbing. We were up at 5 AM and eating, packing and getting ready for almost three hours. We pulled out of 11,000 at 7:50 AM. There were steady breezes but it wasn’t particularly cold as we went up Motorcycle and Squirrel Hills in the shadows. It was blue sky overhead today, so it was definitely one of the nicer days we’ve had (though none have been bad). Sitting in the sunshine at Windy Corner, we could clearly see the Tordrillo Mountains anchoring the Alaska Range to the Southwest. Most eyes were on Mount Foraker though as it seems to get bigger every time we see it. We were around the corner without any difficulties and then out of the wind as we made our way up into Genet Basin. We pulled into the camp at 14,200 ft to join Andy Bond’s RMI team (who are several days ahead of us) and practically all the other teams on the mountain. We’d made it up in five and a half not too hard hours. Despite the fact that we were working at altitude to build a camp, conditions were quite calm and easy, so the work wasn’t too bad. We climbed into tents to hide from the sun and took our customary afternoon naps. The team finished dinner (mac and cheese) which is always a good sign. Tomorrow is an easier day -by design- just a short walk down to pick up our food and fuel above Windy Corner.
Cheering you on and enjoying your adventures!!!! Kudos to all of you, and Jim, for your perseverance and energy!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 6/29/2022 at 6:40 am
June 27, 2022
Monday, June 27, 2022 - 8:14 am PT
Good morning all!
What a walk we had! Leaving 14,000' Camp with sights on basecamp is a long journey. We woke at 10pm, packed our things, and were on the downward trend by midnight. It felt good to be walking downhill but pulling a sled was less than desirable. But with so much motivation it made it possible. With the help from another RMI team, who dug up our 11,000' cache, we made fast work reorganizing and moving on. The glacier down below has changed a little. We zig and zagged left and right to avoid big crevasses. Hours went by, miles gained, elevation lost. As we got near basecamp we did a quick crevasse rescue scenario, before making our last uphill walk. Heart break hill is truly heartbreaking with tired legs, tired bodies, and tired minds. But as usual the team dug real deep and blew up it.
After a few hours napping at base and some luck the clouds parted in Talkeetna and the pilot took off. The sounds of those Otter planes were glorious music to our ears! A shower, a toilet, a beer, food, and sleep never felt or sounded so good. The team earned every amenity possible from such a long hard day. I am thoroughly impressed and proud of all the team members. It has been a fantastic journey. One for the books! Here's to healing sunburns, chapped lips, and sore muscles.
Congrats team, you made it!
RMI Guides Hannah, Kiira, and Dan
Sign Up For Denali Expedition June 8, 2022 Emails
Congratulations!!! Very strong work! So happy for you all!
Posted by: Gina on 6/28/2022 at 1:24 pm
Awesome Job Hannah and Team! Thank you for the posts it was great following along!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/28/2022 at 3:08 am