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Entries from Denali

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Descend to BaseCamp, Return to Talkeetna

Tuesday, July 2, 2024 - 8:15 am PT

So the plan was to walk out in the early morning with the glacier surface frozen up nice and firm. Good plan. But it didn’t freeze.  We had a wet snowstorm from 11 PM  until 6 AM at our final camp… mostly it just preserved the slush. And then we were socked in with cloud until midday.  But when the clouds lifted, we broke records taking down camp and stretching out the rope teams. We were moving at 1PM and then stopped at 1:01 PM figuring out the first crevasse crossing. There were a few thousand more to figure out. Our final day took about six hours and included a couple dozen snowshoed feet and legs going into crevasses, but thankfully no bodies.  And magically, as we pulled up the final hill, the weather cleared and two beautiful K2 Otters glided in to the snow strip. We loaded planes and were off deck by 8 PM. There wasn’t much time for gear sorting back in Talkeetna. But there turned out to be time for Mountain High Pizza Pie and the Fairview Inn.  The team still has a couple of high altitude hacks, some tired legs and some sunburned faces, but those faces were smiling last night as we settled into the Swiss Alaska Inn. 

No summit… it is true.  But we tried.

Best Regards

RMI Guides Dave Hahn, Sam Hoffman, Sam Marjerison, Nick Sinapius

PC: Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Tony - Wow. Incredible on so many levels. What an experience. Life is what you make of it … and clearly you are making the most of it!

Posted by: Marc on 7/7/2024 at 8:27 am

Congratulations to the guides and climbers on a job well done! Whether in climbing or so many other things, some day’s a diamond, some day’s a stone. Hugs to all. Saying hi to Karen. Hope to see you soon at Green Lake Fitness. We’ll keep the light on for you. Dean

Posted by: Dean Wingfield on 7/2/2024 at 2:45 pm

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Getting Closer to Base Camp

Sunday, June 30, 2024 - 10:16 pm PT

It was cold at 14,000' this morning because we didn't wait for the sun to get around the mountain. But the cold was nowhere near what we'd experienced up high. We ate breakfast, packed and got on our way. Back to pulling sleds.  We pulled them around Windy Corner, through the Polo Field, down Squirrel and Motorcycle Hills. Down at 11K, we dug up the cache of gear and made our switch to snowshoes. It was a treat to be the only team left on the lower mountain (there are perhaps five or six teams still above us). It was pretty easy going down the Kahiltna Glacier until we reached Ski Hill where the combination of mushy snow and crevasses made things less fun. Even so we made good time reaching 8,000'. We set up camp as clouds rolled in from above and below. Our hope is to have things freeze up in the night to make for safer and easier travel, but with cloud cover, that doesn't always happen. We'll see what we get. Basecamp is potentially just four hours away. 

Best Regards, 

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

PC: Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Bummed you guys didn’t summit.
Was of course hoping you would on July 1st.
I was fortunate enough to summit on July 1st 1994 with Craig John, Ford Huntington , and Jennifer (?) as our guides.
Guess there is always next year.
If any of you see Joe Horiskey tell him Hi for me !

Posted by: Don West on 7/1/2024 at 8:15 pm

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Descend to Thick Air of 14,000ft Camp

Saturday, June 29, 2024 - 10:10 pm PT

Life is easier at 14,000 ft.  It was still a little breezy and cold this morning as we packed up at 17K.  It still looked like the wind was howling up above. But of course we had our eyes on a dignified retreat. And a careful one. There were quite a few tricky steps to manage on the descent of the West Buttress. It was a relief to have the fixed rope section completed without incident. We rolled into 14,000' Camp at 5PM and had an easy evening in the sunshine. Yes, we are still a long way up a mountain, but everything is more friendly down in the thicker air.  We'll try for 8,000 ft for tomorrow night.

Best Regards, 

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Thinking of you Tony!  you got this!!!

Karl and Diane

Posted by: Karl Ring on 7/1/2024 at 7:17 pm

so proud of you guys!  proud of the wisdom of your guides, the skill and strength of the team, and wow what stories you will have to share!!  much to celebrate when you return!!  lynn

Posted by: barbara theiss on 6/30/2024 at 10:12 am

Denali Expedition: Hahn and Team Reach 18,850’ on Denali

The day started out calm, so we started out climbing. We left high camp at 8:30. The day was slightly warmer than the last few, but there was less sun, so it didn't really feel all that warm. We had most of our clothing on for the 2.5-hour journey to Denali Pass.  It was a little breezier at the pass, so we didn't rest long there. We got into significant wind and clouds in the next hour pushing up the steep rolls to Zebra Rocks. Finally, we had to call it quits at around 18,850 ft.  Storm conditions stayed with us all the way back to high camp. It was a slow descent because of that and some justifiably tired legs.

We were in camp by 6 PM and into the shelter of the tents shortly after.  We gave it a good go but got turned by some tough conditions. That happens. We'll begin our descent tomorrow. Some tough and careful climbing is still to come. 


RMI Guides Dave Hahn, Sam Marjerison, Sam Hoffman, Nick Sinapius & Team 

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Too bad the weather did not cooperate, Wallis.  Great job, nevertheless!!  Have a safe climb down.

Posted by: Subbu Aiyer on 7/1/2024 at 6:29 am

So sorry to hear the weather was not cooperative! Great job Jon and to everyone in pushing through for as long as you did in windy conditions, but better safe than sorry! Kudos to the knowledge and wisdom of the guides and team in prioritizing safety. Positive thoughts for a safe and easy descent!

Posted by: Sunita Bendale on 6/30/2024 at 9:01 pm

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Wait out the Weather at 17,000’ Camp

It was a windy night at high camp, followed by a windy day. More importantly, it was still too windy up on Denali's South Peak for us to make an attempt. Low level clouds have come in, obscuring our views of many of the surrounding mountains. We still have hope for improved conditions tomorrow, but that will likely be our last shot at the top. Given all that, the team has stayed upbeat and excited for a chance to climb.

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

I heard it was a rough day and had to turn back. Job well done to get that far Tony!!  I opted for some Double Rye with a friend last night and will do the bourye when you’re down safely!  Congrats on what I assume is your altitude record?  In TKPhi and Stay safe - Mark

Posted by: Mark Miola on 6/29/2024 at 8:22 am

good luck Katie & team!! Rooting for you!

Posted by: devi mehrotra on 6/28/2024 at 11:01 pm

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Continue to Wait at High Camp

Wednesday, June 27, 2024 - 9:58 pm PT

Still in a holding pattern at 17,000 ft. There were obvious strong winds blowing on our climbing route first thing today. We watched and waited for calming.  It did die down a little at midday -too late for climbing- but then the winds roared back to life in the afternoon.  We napped, read and generally passed the time.  We can walk about a hundred feet from camp to a tremendous view of half of Alaska. The team is hanging in and hoping for a shot.


RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

fingers crossed for better weather soon!!

Posted by: Seth Cochran on 6/28/2024 at 3:01 am

Keeping good thoughts going the weather is in your favor to summit. Hi Caryn, Love Mom!

Posted by: Divy Karolyi on 6/27/2024 at 3:43 pm

Denali Expedition: Cifelli & Team Members Reflect Summit Day

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 10:27 pm PT

Reflection from summit day

14,000’ Camp

Staring At The Headwall. Our Team Summited Denali today! I did not. I take no credit for their achievement, having been a hindrance at best, but I’ve come to love these people and I am inspired by their triumph. Unless you’ve been here, you cannot understand the magnitude of their accomplishment. Logistical. Physical. Emotional. Each member of our team may remember when my quest came to an end on what is arguably the Crux of the West Buttress Route. My anguished cry when my knee hit the ice of the bergschrund and I instantly knew that I had denied myself the Summit. But I pushed on, climbed the fixed ropes of The Headwall, and descended with the team back to our 14,000’ camp. Then, two days later, full of optimism and with a taped up knee, I climbed The Headwall again, plus a little more, as our team pushed for the highest camp. Why? How can we hold the knowledge that something is impossible, it cannot be done, while at the same time holding the conflicting conviction that we can do anything if we just keep striving in the face of insurmountable challenges? Each of you reading this has met your own Denali and you know the answer. That’s just Life. So while I take no credit for their achievements, having been a hindrance at best, I have come to love people and I am inspired by their triumphs. Keep climbing your Headwalls, they are the only paths to your Summits.

RMI Climber Kris Reitz


Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 11:11 pm PT

Final dispatch: 
Waking up this morning, I’m filled with an intense sense of wonder. 

“Did we really pull that off?”
The memories of the day before play in mind. The views, the wind, the struggle, the summit.

“Hey team, it’s time to wake up,” our guide Seth rouses us, “we’re gonna try and get out of here around 10:00am.”

I check my watch. It’s just after 8:00. I consider getting up. The ache of the day before confirms that it all wasn’t just a dream. It pulsates through my body, intensified by the lack of oxygen available to us at 17200ft. 

Seth asks how we feel, my tent mate Chris replies: “I feel like I climbed a 20000ft mountain.”  I laugh, still comfortably in my sleeping bag. 

We begin slowly packing the randomly strewn about items that we didn’t care to pack after our 12 hour summit day. 

Not much later, we’re on the move again. Our packs are heavy again, a change from the light summit packs we grew accustomed to yesterday. We say our final goodbyes to the friends we made during our brief stay and begin the walk to the narrow balance beam that is the West Buttress I carefully scramble through the granite boulders that line the upper ridge, to my left and right, 3000ft drop offs. We waltz secured by our rope and fixed protection put in long ago. The dance is lento. Each move is precise and requires our complete focus. 

Clip, reclip. Clip, reclip. Check the rope isn’t getting caught in the feet of the person in front of you. Clip, reclip. Make a careful move through an awkward position. Clip, reclip. Glance at Foraker or Hunter. Clip, reclip. Finally, we make it through without incident, arriving to the 2000ft, 50° fixed lines.

We slide down carefully. The rope is wrapped  around our arms like a cobra squeezing its prey. We make good progress, arriving to the bergschrund much faster than it took us to area of the route. As we continue downward, Chris and I share a laugh as we remember we’re still wearing our long underwear. We make it back to the 14200ft camp where we pause for a while, giving Chris and I the chance to free ourselves from the heat prison surrounding our legs, much to the humour of the rest of our team. 

After sorting out the gear we stashed here  before heading up, (struggling to figure out how on earth we’d get it into our already full packs), we start marching downward again. We pass sights we remember only in an upward sense. They take on a different feeling, knowing that  for some of us, this may be the last time we see them. Windy corner, Thunder ridge, the Peters glacier. All deeply beautiful. 

We arrive into the ghost town that is 11000ft camp, with most of the climbers who would populate this place either higher on the mountain, or long gone, returned to civilization Our stay here won’t be long. We plan to move again once the glacier refreezes. Even still, we make set the nylon homes that have housed us for the last 14 nights, one final time. 

As we eat our last dinner on the mountain, bagels with salmon and cream cheese, a feeling of sadness begins to creep over us. 

In a strange way, as we reminisce about having ate an ungodly amount of quesadillas, or how badly we smell, or funny encounters we had with other climbers en route, it begins to set in this journey is nearing its end.
Soon, all of these moments will become memories. Our mistakes, funny stories. Our hardships, that which built our character. Our triumphs, our legacies. 

As we settle into our down bags one final time, the evening air beginning to become cold, an unexplainable emotion begins to emerge. The one perhaps felt when you realize you’re in a memory. Gratitude? Thankfulness? Satisfaction?
Perhaps some things in life are better left unanalyzed. 

Thank you, Denali. You have been so, so kind. 

RMI Climber Thomas Goossen

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Congratulations again to team Cifelli! Weather was definitely on your side! Appreciation for RMI’s top notch guides - doing what u love is no easy task in your line of work - and your personal encouragement & push was so required for Thomas in the home stretch! Rest up now! You’ve earned it!

Posted by: Cheryl goossen on 6/28/2024 at 10:50 am

So sorry to hear this Kris, I know this is probably a hard way to finish off what you have worked so hard for. You still have accomplished so much and have so much to be proud of! What an adventure! You are and always have been the strongest, toughest person I know. You have always been such a great role model, and I know you gave it everything. I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to hear all of the stories when you get back down!

Posted by: Nicholas Reitz on 6/26/2024 at 8:53 am

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Have Dress Rehearsal for Summit Day

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 9:33 pm PT

A little bit of a tough one for us. We geared up and started climbing the "autobahn" toward Denali Pass. The team was handling the terrain well but a cold wind got going and our sense was that it was strengthening. We turned at 17,800ft and the wind died before we'd reached camp. It likely would have worked for climbing after all. We turned the day into a rest/acclimatization day and we'll give the summit another try tomorrow. 

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn 

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Go team! I am praying the winds calm down for another attempt - you guys got this! Dad, you’re a beast and I can’t wait to hear all the stories. Love you so much! - Rach

Posted by: Rachel Shoppy on 6/27/2024 at 10:57 am

You guys will summit tomorrow for sure! Praying for great weather! Good luck!

Posted by: Sunita Bendale on 6/26/2024 at 9:45 pm

Denali Expedition: Cifelli & Team Reach the Summit!

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 1:27 pm PT

Climbing mountains is hard. Ya that’s obvious, but I’m not only talking about the effort while on the mountain. Whether or not you make it to the summit there’s countless hours spent training, researching, anxiously thinking about what might be. Time spent away from friends and family because “ I’m going to go climb a mountain” and of course the countless question that follow from there. It’s hard to explain though, to those that don’t come out to these wild places to suffer so beautifully. To be trying to do perhaps the hardest thing we’ve ever done in the most remote and beautiful places in the world. It’s so uniquely vulnerable. We do it because we have to, or else we’d be spending those hours and days daydreaming of what could be. We have to find out for ourselves what it’s like and experience a grounding that nothing else can give you.

We summitted Denali, the highest peak in North America, at around 6:20 PM June 24. It was a beautiful day with light, but bitter, winds and clouds all around us but never above us. It was amazing. It was everything we had been working and hoping for over the past 13 days on the darn thing. We rest up tonight, an easier task than most days, and start our long descent back to where it all started 14 days ago, Basecamp.

Thanks to all the friends and family that might not quite understand why, but instead understand that we have to. None of this is possible without that support.

RMI Guide Dominic Cifelli

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Chris (CT one) - many congratulations   On your summit and enjoy the beers back in Talkeetna!! Look forward to hearing about your adventures when you get back - well done !!

Posted by: Huw on 6/26/2024 at 6:01 am

Amazing—what an accomplishment! Can’t wait to hear all about it in-person. A big thanks to all the RMI guides for leading this expedition and being the experts they are!

Posted by: Joshua Rouse on 6/26/2024 at 6:00 am

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Move to High Camp, 17,000

17,200 ft sure feels good! We pulled out of 14,000' at 10 AM. It snowed a few inches in the night but by morning the clouds were dropping down. We had a clear shot of the West Buttress and the South Summit. Our packs were a good deal heavier than when we carried. Today was tough climbing but the entire team did quite well. We reached our new home in 6.5 hours and set to building camp. Such work is tough enough, but it was double tough in the thin air. Eventually we had tents to take shelter in snd and a hot dinner out on the patio. We talked over the challenges we are likely to face going for the top tomorrow. It was a treat to greet Dominic Cifelli's triumphant team as they rolled back into camp -about when we were buttoning things up for the evening.  Fingers crossed for one more perfect day. 


RMI Guides Dave, Sam, Sam and Nick

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

The weather forecast looks good if I’m reading it right out of Fairbanks. If that holds you’ll smoke it. Got get ‘em safe and sound.

Posted by: Gregory Poulos on 6/26/2024 at 3:53 am

You’re almost there! Great job Jon and team!! We at work are thinking of you and cheering you on! Hoping for great weather and beautiful views tomorrow! Onward and upward!!!

Posted by: Sunita Bendale on 6/25/2024 at 8:04 pm

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