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Entries from Denali

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Back Carry and Rest at 14K Camp

Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 10:06 pm PT

Today was a simple one.  We got up at 6 AM, ate breakfast and put on our spikes for a short walk down to the cache at 13,500 ft.  The team loved the views of Mts Foraker and Hunter.  The Tordrillo Mountains were clearly visible to the South.  Ravens hadn’t even attempted to break into our well-buried cache.  We had it out and distributed for carrying in minutes.  Then we walked slowly back uphill with full packs, reaching camp by 10:30 AM.  Rest and rehydration was in order as we got out of the strong sun and into our tents.  A storm was gradually forming, first with winds up high on Denali, then with a steadily lowering cloud cap.  This didn’t prevent us from conducting a brief review of the climbing techniques we mean to employ on the fixed-rope section between 15,000 and 16,000 ft tomorrow when we carry high. 

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Take Rest Day at 14,000 Camp

Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 3:07 pm PT

We enjoyed a long, restful night of sleep at 14,000' Camp, with (relatively) warm temperatures. The agenda for today includes drying out boots in the sun, charging batteries with solar panels, resting, reading, and eating.

It's sunny and warm here in camp, but there's a nasty lenticular cloud on the summit, indicating high winds aloft. The latest weather forecast is calling for a storm affecting the mountain an lasting into Saturday. We're all set to weather the weather. And our hope is to get a good, three day window in which to have a summit bid. We'll be in touch again tomorrow with the latest. Now back to reading...

RMI Guide Mike Walter

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Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Fly to Talkeetna

Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 2:19 pm PT

Just a walk in the park,

A short nap began our long walk out. A 10pm wake up and a midnight start got us to basecamp an early hour. Heavy sleds and packs were no match for our motivation to shower away 22 days worth of smell. Walking the Kahiltna in the middle of the night (granted its always light out) is peaceful. A great time for reflection. Its been a fun, albeit hard, 22 days on Denali. We had it all, snow, wind, sunshine, all three at once. What we didn't have was any illness or injury and that's the important part. Showered, fed, and full of oxygen-rich air, we are all ready for our journey home. Its been a memorable expedition but now its time for family, friends, and recovery. 

Well done team, well done,

RMI Guide Hannah Smith and team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Great Job Hannah and Dustin!! It was great following along with you.

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 7/2/2021 at 2:49 am

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Turn the Corner into 14K Camp

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 10:06 pm PT

At long last, we made it from the lower mountain to the upper mountain.  The weather was perfect all day long, although forecasts hadn’t given any indication that it might be.  It was a bit of work to get packed up and moving out of 11,000 ft this morning… we tend to put down roots, but by 9AM we were stretching the ropes out and walking toward Motorcycle Hill.  The snow surface was firm and perfect for crampons.  We moved on up over familiar terrain, but this time with unlimited views of tundra and rivers to the north.  Views were spectacular as we turned Windy Corner, but of course we couldn’t gaze at them too long -lots of climbing stuff to concentrate on at the Corner.  There was little or no wind to be had as we made our way into Genet Basin and the fabled Fourteen Camp at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Our expedition experience changed markedly as we hauled through camp.  As one of the last guided teams of the season, we’ve been mostly on our own or around one or two other teams at most.  It was nearly overwhelming to be seeing so many teams coming and going from 14 Camp. Socially it was exciting -for both guides and climbers- to be seeing friends and co-workers from various companies -many for the first time since before the pandemic.  A handful of teams were coming down into camp after summit bids yesterday. Briefly, all three RMI teams on the mountain were in the same place at the same time.  The National Park Service B3 helicopter was in action conducting rescues high and low.  As we dug in to establish our camp we felt like we’d come into the center of everything.  For a short time at least.  Many of those we saw will shortly go lower or higher.  We still need to drop down tomorrow morning for our cached supplies parked just above the Corner.  But tonight we are sleeping at fourteen-thousand-hard-earned feet. 

Best Regards.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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You’re almost there!!!  Hope someone brought the fireworks !!  Safe travels :)

Posted by: Mom and Cindy on 7/2/2021 at 4:38 pm

Congrats on the 14K level.  It sounds like the camp was as busy as downtown Boston here.

The views sound tremendous & worth the effort.  Good luck with the summiting.

You can ask Matt McEttrick how Denali compares with his first family climb here in Milton MA

at the top of Great Blue Hill (elevation 635’) overlooking Boston and Massachusetts Bay.

Joe McEttrick

Posted by: Joe McEttrick on 7/1/2021 at 12:47 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Back to 11K Camp

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 8:31 pm PT


A long day indeed. We woke at 17K Camp and are now resting at 11K Camp. We have changed our focus of going up the mountain to going down the mountain. The focus is always on going higher and higher but the most important part is the downhill. Our trip is coming to an end and we are making our way back to basecamp. These long days walking gives plenty of time to reflect on the trip. It's been a long one, with today marking day 21. Many experiences and memories have been had. We may have not gained the summit but we have gained stories on stories of our time out here. And really the summit is just the cherry on top of an experience of a lifetime. Tomorrow we walk the Kahiltna Glacier with the final bit called Heart Break Hill. Its only a quick nap at 11K before we hit the glacier around midnight. Caffeine is going to be our friend.

Oh how sweet the air is,

RMI Guide Hannah Smith and team

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Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Cache Gear at 16,400’

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 6:26 pm PT

The winds and clouds from yesterday and last night disappeared and we woke to crystal blue skies this morning. After breakfast we loaded our packs with food and fuel and headed out of 14K Camp, up towards the Headwall. The first two hours were in the shade, and chilly, which made for great climbing weather. We were finally in the sun by the time we hit the fixed ropes and the temperature was downright pleasant.

We ended up putting our cache in at around 16,400' and headed back to camp, beating both the heat and the many climbers descending from high camp.

Back in camp a little after 2pm, we had plenty of time for a nap before dinner. Now we're set up with our cache up high. We'll take a rest day tomorrow and then wait for a good weather window to head up to high camp and hopefully have a chance for a summit bid.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

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Following along with you Aaron!  Great photos and I may paint a few - enjoy the snow it’s HOT here! We love you
Mom and Dad

Posted by: Mom on 7/2/2021 at 8:53 am

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Reach 19,500’ on Summit Bid

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 10:13 pm PT

And that's that,

Today we gave it all we could. The forecast was for less than 15mph winds and party sunny...well that wasn't exactly what we got. Camp was windy from the start. The sun was out but so was the wind. But today was our last shot so we left camp. It was a slow start behind a bunch of teams on the Autobahn but we made it to Denali Pass. The first stretch of the day is a real butt kicker. Clouds began to roam above Denali but conditions were still good. As the day progressed so did the clouds. By late afternoon we were in a cloud and the winds had picked up. We pushed as far as we could until it didn't make sense to keep going. 19,500' was our high point. Pushing past there with the conditions we had would be a risk. As the saying goes the mountains will be there for another try. They are much more robust than we are. The team made good, safe work making it back to camp. It would have been nice to arrive to a quiet camp but it is rather windy here. It will be a rowdy night in the winds but tomorrow we will skiddattle out of here to the land of more oxygen.

We gave it our all,

RMI Guide Hannah Smith and team

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Gutted for you but great effort and staying power to stick it out as long as you have. Devin & Dustin it was great to see you when we were on our way down (I was with Mike King’s group). Here’s to a safe descent and lots of beers!!

Posted by: Huw Rothwell on 7/1/2021 at 4:07 pm

Really an impressive achievement and I’m so happy and so proud of you all for going after this exciting adventure!
I admire your patience & tenacity Byron! We all love living your adventures!
Mom & Dad

Posted by: Judy & Dale on 6/30/2021 at 1:29 pm

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Hanging Out at 11,200’

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 10:12 pm PT

The morning weather looked promising enough for early rising.  We launched into breakfast and made the decision to take one last acclimatization day before moving up to 14 thousand feet.  That meant that breakfast turned into brunch and that we would spend the day aggressively resting so as to be ready for a move tomorrow.  It was generally fine weather down on our part of the mountain and we got in good naps and meals and snacking sessions.  By afternoon and evening, clouds were stacking up on the mountains around us but things remained calm at 11,000 ft. 

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

GO TEAM DAVE . Sending Prayers & Best to Ur team ... Take care y’all & Keep smiling !!! Please give our luv to Sanjeev Nagrath —- Rohan, Courtney, Nora , Niki & Anjalika
Happy Day :)

Posted by: Anjalika Nagrath on 7/1/2021 at 8:14 am

Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Visit the Edge of the World

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 4:25 pm PT

The sky was blue and winds were calm at 14k this morning. Up higher it was a different story, with a lenticular cloud cap on the summit and long plumes of spindrift streaming out to the east. We enjoyed a morning jaunt to the Edge of the World, where we could look down almost seven thousand feet below us to the Kahiltna Glacier and our camp at the Base of Ski Hill at 7800'.

We also spent a few ours reviewing and practicing some climbing techniques that we will employ up higher.

Our next task is to establish a cache up high, above the Headwall on the West Buttress proper. Weather willing we'll do that tomorrow. Now it's time for some reading and resting before dinner.

We'll be in touch tomorrow.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

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Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Remain at 17,000 Camp

Monday, June 28, 2021 - 10:37 pm PT

Good evening,

We went to bed with the excitment of going for the summit the following day. The sky was clear and all looked calm enough in the morning. The light was green for take off. As we packed for the day clouds began to build to the south. We hoped they would stay at bay but before long they were swollowing the upper mountain. Our nice looking day took a turn and the light turned to red. Instead of taking a walk, we took a nap. Today was not our day. Snow and clouds came and went throughout the day. Camp remained quiet as no one left for the summit. What is one more day of waiting if we can summit tomorrow? Weather is looking ok for tomorrow and we are hoping with everything we half left in us that tomorrow will in fact be the day we go for the top. Patience, food, and time are running low so here's for some good weather.

Good weather, good weather, good weather,

RMI Guide Hannah Smith and team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hannah and Dustin, I am sending good weather prayers for you and your team!!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/30/2021 at 3:08 am

We are all thinking about you and can’t wait to hear the good word!
Hoping by now you are excited to have reached your goal!
Mom & Dad

Posted by: Judy & Dale on 6/29/2021 at 1:31 pm

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