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Entries from Denali

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Load into the Planes

May 19, 2016 - 2:44 p.m. PDT

One plane is flying up in ten minutes, and with luck, the rest of the team will follow shortly thereafter. Here we go!

The pilot gives us a 30% chance of actually getting to the mountain. I think otherwise. More like a 30% of having to return to Talkeetna, but good to have a sober expectation of our chances.

RMI Guide Brent Okita

To my husband Mike Santoni,

Happy Anniversary my love. Thanks for a wonderful 5 years. Good luck to you and your team!! We all miss you here on sunset rd!


Posted by: Alexis Pappas on 5/21/2016 at 5:55 am

You got this Dawn and team. God speed and safe flying.

Posted by: Tom Salata on 5/20/2016 at 7:56 pm

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Wait for the Signal to Fly

May 19, 2016 - 8:25 a.m. PDT

We are awaiting breakfast before heading to the airport to see if we can fly out today. The drizzle falling this morning hasn’t gotten anyone’s spirits down. We’re all excited to get going!

Update - 10:14 a.m. PDT

The sun has been peeking out shyly this morning, which is a marked improvement from our earlier rain. The ‘rampers’ have just finished loading our gear into the two Otters that will fly the team onto the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier from where we’ll start our climb.

Boots are at the ready for when we get the word that the weather’s good enough to fly. For now we’re in the good hands of K2 Aviation to make the right decision to fly. They’re the experts, and share the same attitude towards safety that we do: it’s our top priority.

As I write sitting in the hangar, I’m watching a couple more sun breaks and hearing a plane warm up, droning out the classical music NPR is belting out on the radio. Both good signs, but not good enough yet to slip on the expedition climbing boots I’ll have on for the next two - three weeks.

With luck you’ll soon be getting a short, curt dispatch from me announcing a move. If not, our next dispatch may be coming from from the dinner table between sips of an Ice Axe Ale. Such is the waiting game here in Talkeetna.

RMI Guide Brent Okita and Team

On The Map

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Cache Gear Above Windy Corner

May 19, 2016 - 12:07 a.m. PDT

Today was a beautiful day to go for a walk, so we grabbed our already packed packs from yesterday and headed up Motorcycle Hill. A thin layer of high clouds kept it from getting too hot, and we cruised across a smooth, and relatively crevasse free, Polo Field to Windy Corner, and then around to our cache site at 13,500.’ After folding a shovel in half trying to dig through a surprisingly thick ice layer, we found and abandoned cache hole that had blown in and excavated that instead. With food and fuel buried, we made short work of the return trip to 11,200’. Should the weather be fair in the morning, we plan to pack up camp and head up to 14,200’ to join Mike Walter’s crew. With luck we’ll be checking in tomorrow from our new camp!

Do your favorite weather dance for us,
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Jess Matthews, and Robby Young, and Crew

On The Map

Any birthday cake today brother

Posted by: Mats Carlehog on 5/19/2016 at 2:57 pm

Yeah Tay!! We are all thinking about you (and in the groupchat) back in SB and how much fun you are having up there.  Can’t wait to hear your stories and see your photos!

Les and DC groupchat

Posted by: Les Morales on 5/19/2016 at 1:44 pm

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Packed and Ready to Fly

May 18, 2016 - 8:17 pm PT

Finally,  all the checking and packing and repacking and a million other things that need to be done before we can fly on to the mountain are done.  Cool weather kept the mosquitos at bay,  and although it was overcast, word from up high on the mountain reported sunny skies. 
We’re hopeful for a good day tomorrow so we can start our trip.  Planes were taking off and landing on the mountain all day today, which is always a good sign.
With luck,  tonight will be our last dinner in town for a while.

Talk with you soon.
RMI Guides Brent Okita,  Christina Dale and Chris Ebeling

I hope the weather clears so you can start your journey to the top of North America!! Chris, your big sister will be watching each step of the way. So proud of you, and have fun!!!!!

Posted by: Karen Ebeling on 5/19/2016 at 2:43 pm

Have a great climb!  Your niece and nephews will be tracking you guys.  Be safe!  Love, Carin, Andy, David, Brian and Jordan

Posted by: Carin on 5/19/2016 at 8:07 am

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

May 18, 2016 - 5:07 p.m. PDT

Howdy from 14,200’ Denali! We are lounging in the sun at camp, waiting for the winds up high to decrease so that we can move to our high camp and get in position to take a crack at the summit. We’re comfy here at camp but eager to club higher.

After breakfast this morning, we headed over to the Edge of the World, a viewpoint 15 minutes from camp that looks down some 7,000’ into the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier and across to Mt. Foraker. Amazing.

If anyone could pull some strings with the weather deities, that’d be swell. Thanks!

That’s it for now,
RMI Guides Mike Walter, Billy Haas, and Blake Votilla

On The Map

Hi adelle.  Sitting at Fego having a cuppa and watching the water.  It is two in the morning in your valley…sorry ...mountain.  and i suppose you are nice and warm and cosy in your sleeping bag.  NOT…  thinking about you all the time.  Your brother wants to join you when you do Everest.  Then i have two to pray for.  (I wonder if God has a special file labelled Mountaineers? To which he pays special attention)  Hope so….      Well,;enough of my rambling. I will leave you and your group to do some rambling of your own.  Love.  ME.

Posted by: Maureen on 5/20/2016 at 2:14 am

Holy smokes…what a view!  I am so glad you all got to see such beauty!  May the weather be calm, clear and ready for you all to reach the top!  Stay healthy brother Dave.  Love, Jules

Posted by: Julie Beckner on 5/19/2016 at 9:59 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Arrive in Talkeetna

May 17, 2016 - 10:28 p.m. PDT

Grey clouds greeted the team in Anchorage as we began our movement towards the mountain but the wet skies could not dampen everyone’s excitement to start the trip. Finally, after all the preparation and training, we are on our way!

At first glance, on this first day, I’m excited about the team. All seem fit, experienced, and fun to be around. Dinner, dessert, and drinks were a nice conclusion to our long day of travel to get here. Now for some sleep so we’re fresh for a busy day of gear preparation tomorrow…

Until next time, good night.

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale, and Chris Ebeling

On The Map

Shout out to Mike Probstfeld…can you hear me? Wishing you and team a hell of an adventure.
I’ll buy when you get back to my elevation

Posted by: Tom Hines on 5/25/2016 at 9:20 pm

Great looking team. Cheers to you all. I see success in your smiles.

Posted by: Lori Golding on 5/18/2016 at 10:59 am

Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Take a Rest Day

May 17, 2016 - 10:49 p.m. PDT

We slept in until the sun hit our tents this morning as we enjoyed a well deserved rest day. After a hearty brunch, we lounged around camp all day doing a lot of nothing. The weather was sunny in the morning, with strong winds up high on the West Buttress above us. This afternoon a squall came through with a little snow and windy conditions at camp.

The forecast is for see strong winds up high the next few days. We’ll pay close attention to the changing conditions as we get ready for our final push to high camp and a chance at a summit bid.
We’ll touch base again tomorrow to let you know the latest.

RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team

On The Map


I spotted you in one of the blog post photos! You are the one with the thumb up!

The final push - wow! I hope the winds die down and weather conditions are optimal. You are doing something mind-blowing. I’m scared for you and proud at the same time.



Posted by: Leanne Fosbre on 5/18/2016 at 5:21 pm

Go Rogan and crew. Watching the blogs and photos in awe!
God Speed!

Posted by: Sean O'Keeffe (and son Cianan) on 5/18/2016 at 12:18 pm

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Take a Snow Day

May 17, 2016 - 6:02 p.m. PDT

We declared a snow day today. We woke to what could be described as a heavy fall of snow, and our hopes of heading uphill diminished. An hour later as we ate breakfast, the sky cleared, the sun came out, and our hopes rose. Just as quickly, the clouds, snow, and blustery gusts returned, and convinced us that today was a day to remain indoors. And so we have, napping, snacking, reading, and watching movies. The weather hasn’t relented either, reinforcing our decision. The low pressure that seems to be moving over us is hinting at moving out over the next few days, so we hope that tomorrow gives us a better opportunity to head up to Windy Corner and cache. In the meantime, we’ll take the opportunity to rest up and get ready for another round of big days. All for now from snowy 11 Camp.

Thanks for following!
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Robby Young, and Jess Matthes, and team

On The Map

Hipp hipp hurra, ha den äran idag käre Thomas!! Happy Birthday!!
Grattis från hela familjen här hemma.
Äppelträden blommar, små vackra blommor kommer upp i gräsmattan…sommaren är på väg efter några svalare dagar.
Önskar Dig en fin dag och fortsatt upplevelserik expedition! Mycket mod, kraft och kärlek, älskar Dig.

Posted by: Sinikka on 5/19/2016 at 6:50 am

It has been a miserable few days in the east, Weather 46-54 and drizzle, You guys surrounded by visual splendor are in the right zip code. Saying some prayers to pull your nasty weather away! Go git’em, when it’s right! Happy Trails Lisa! - Greg

Posted by: Greg Hurley on 5/19/2016 at 3:55 am

Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Cache Supplies above Fixed Lines

May 17, 2016 - 12:29 a.m. PDT

I woke up at the chilly hour of 5:00 a.m. to start the stoves. It was a perfectly clear morning with barely a breath of wind. After a hearty breakfast we packed our backpacks with supplies to cache up above the fixed ropes. We started climbing in the shade, as the sun still had not poked out around the West Rib. The cold temps were perfect for climbing and we warmed up quickly. After an hour and a thousand feet of vertical gain, the sun welcomed us at our first break.

We continued climbing and employed our mechanical ascenders to aid us up the fixed ropes. A couple hours later we were on top of the West Buttress proper. The team climbed hard today and we accomplished our goals, with one team putting a cache in below Washburn’s Thumb (16,700’), and the other team pushing on to high camp (17,200’) to establish a cache. We’re all back at camp and in our sleeping bags now after a long day of climbing. A much deserved rest day awaits us tomorrow.

RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team

This is for all of you…......

” In a sense everything that is exists to climb.  All evolution is a climbing towards a higher form.
  Climbing for life as it reaches towards the consciousness, towards the spirit.  We have always
  honored the high places because we sense them to be homes of gods.  In the mountains there
  is the promise of… something unexplainable.  A higher place of awareness, a spirit that soars.
  So we climb… and in climbing there is more than a metaphor;  there is a means of discovery.”


(Love you Blake!)

Posted by: Maria Votilla on 5/18/2016 at 8:01 am

Hello Rob.. Unbelievable accomplishment! So excited and proud for you and the team! You all have accomplished so much and looking forward to pictures from the summit!! Enjoy the much deserved rest.  Continue to be strong! We are all cheering you and the team on to the summit! Take care! Be safe, Love, Mom, Dad and Katie

Posted by: Robert & Toni Caldwell on 5/18/2016 at 4:36 am

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer and Team Retrieve Cache

May 16, 2016 - 11:45 p.m. PDT

We woke this morning from a deep, deep night of sleep to sunny skies and a thin coat of snow over everything that sparkled brilliantly white. It was a gorgeous morning that energized everyone as they glanced up at Denali, down the Kahiltna, and across at Foraker. We had a leisurely breakfast of hash browns and eggs, listening to teams pack and walk out for carries to Windy Corner or moves to 14. We eventually made our own move, returning to our cache of food and fuel at 10, and hauling it back up the hill to camp. We reviewed some climbing techniques that we’ll need above here, then crawled into the tents as the clouds crept up glacier to rest and relax. Tomorrow we hope to make our own carry up to Windy Corner if conditions allow. Until then, we’ll eat more food, tell some tall tales, and catch several more hours of deep, deep sleep.

Best from 11,

RMI Guides Pete, Jess, Robby, and Team

I love it when you talk about holing up to sleep and eat. It means your out of danger’s way. Windy Corner sounds uninviting. Wish there was a way around it. A mother is a mother, no matter the age of the child.

Be safe!!!!

Posted by: leanne fosbre on 5/17/2016 at 3:58 pm

We’ll keep sending those good weather vibes your way, especially for Windy Corner!!! Keep up the great work everyone!

Posted by: Patrice La Vigne on 5/17/2016 at 2:53 pm

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