Posts for Expedition Dispatches

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer and Team Carry to Windy Corner

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Robby Young, Josh Maggard | May 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Wednesday, May 20th 6:11 pm PDT

Our day was productive, if not easy. This morning the winds had abated, though not gone, and we seized our opportunity to make some headway. We swapped snowshoes for crampons, packed loads of food and fuel, and roped up for the climb to Windy Corner. The winds, not nearly as strong as yesterday, were nonetheless a bit blustery as we climbed and added a bit of extra challenge to the day, and everyone rose to that challenge. We made it to Windy Corner and cached our loads as the wind seemed to pick up a bit. We scooted back downhill to the comfort of our tents, and tucked in. By mid-afternoon, the winds returned to 11k Camp and brought snow with them. We’ll see how the current pattern progresses, and in the morning we’ll find out if the weather will allow us to move up, or whether we’ll extend out stay at 11,200’ for another day. For now we’re snug in our beds.


RMI Guides Pete, Robby, Josh, and Team

An RMI team ascending Motorcycle Hill with 11k Camp of Mt. McKinley, AK in the background. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter and Team Carry to 16,200’

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Billy Haas | May 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Wednesday, May 20th 3:19 pm PDT

We took advantage of a beautiful morning today and bumped a cache of food and fuel up to 16,200 ft on the West Buttress, above the fixed ropes of the head wall outside of 14k camp. We made efficient work of the head wall and, as we neared the top, clouds and wind moved in around us. The weather was manageable, just not very pleasant. So once our cache hole was dug and our food and fuel was buried, we retreated back down the fixed ropes to the comfort of camp.

The afternoon was spent relaxing as winds swirled around camp. We will take a rest day tomorrow to recover and acclimate further. The weather forecast for the next couple of days indicates strong winds up high, so we’ll likely have a couple of days to rest here at 14,200’ while we wait for a reasonable weather window to move up to high camp and have a crack at the summit. Hopefully the weekend will bring more favorable climbing weather. We’ll keep you posted either way.

Cheers,
RMI Guide Mike Walter and Team

An RMI team ascending the fixed lines outside of 14k Camp on Mt. McKinley, AK. Photo: Brent Okita

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Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Climb to Camp 2

Posted by: Leon Davis, Lindsay Fixmer, Bridget Belliveau | May 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 9,800'

Wednesday, May 20th 2:38 pm PDT

Writing to you all from vibrating tents at 9800 ft. tonight. The team had a fine walk up from 7800 ft. this morning in decent weather, but the looming sense of something surrounding us was ever present. We started to make our camp as the winds picked up, snow falling and visibility waning. It was hard work for 3 or 4 hours before we had good walls and I’ve never seen the team work so well together - all are hard workers. We are hunkered down now and eagerly await what tomorrow brings. 

Hope you all are warm!
RMI Guide Leon Davis and team

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Mt. McKinley: Knoff and Team Ready to Go

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Nick Hunt, Andy Hildebrand | May 21, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 348'

Thursday, May 21st 10:02 am PDT

We got the call this morning at breakfast that base camp is clear and the light is green. We are on the plane now ready for an adventure of a lifetime!  Wish us luck and send us love. 
Our next dispatch will be from Mt. McKinley
Rock and Roll!

Wednesday, May 20th 4:18 pm PDT

Our team is doing great up here in Talkeetna, AK.
We are swamped in gear, doing an inspection that would make the FAA proud. Nothing is going unseen and I am proud to announce that everyone is passing with flying colors. Overall I couldn’t be more happy with the first impressions of what should be a strong team. Let’s hope it stays that way. One never knows what can happen on Mt. McKinley.  Prayers for good morning weather for flying tomorrow.

Bye for now from Talkeetna.
RMI Guides Adam Knoff, Nick Hunt, and Andy Hildebrand and Crew

The May 19th McKinley team preparing for the climb in Talkeetna, AK. Photo: Adam Knoff The May 19th McKinley team ready to fly in Talkeetna, AK. Photo: Adam Knoff

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Hello to Adam’s team and especially to Greg. Strange to see the photos at Talkeetna because we are not there!!! Enjoy the trip and take care! Will be following you… read more

Posted by: Joyce Tocher on 5/21/2015 at 6:06 pm

Good luck on the climb to Team Adam!  Special shout out to Nicholas….enjoy the adventure.

The Jackson’s

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Posted by: Shelly Jackson on 5/21/2015 at 2:53 pm


Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Take a Rest Day at 11,200’

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Josh Maggard, Robby Young | May 20, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

May 20, 2015 - 12:07 am PT

We wanted to get up to 13,500’ to cache today, but the weather had other plans. Clouds and snow were moving quickly over the Polo Field and West Buttress above us, and gave us all the clues we needed to guess what would be going on at Windy Corner. After watching the trend for a couple of hours and not seeing any improvement, we decided to sit tight and take a tent day. Sure enough, around noon the wind direction shifted and brought strong, gusty winds to camp, along with a fair bit of snow. The team did the tent time triathlon, competing in three events: napping (best napping and longest), spades, and sport eating lunch food. By dinner, the clouds above us started to break and the sun peaked through. We’ve got 6 inches of nice new fluffy snow, and the view as we crawled into our sleeping bags was sparkly and beautiful. We’ll add some more sleep hours, and hope that we wake up to conducive conditions for getting our cache in tomorrow!

RMI Guides Pete, Josh, Robby, and team

An RMI Team camped at 11,200 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: Rob Lindner

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Train at 14,200’ Camp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Billy Haas, Solveig Waterfall | May 20, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

May 19, 2015 - 11:40 pm PT

Our team had another great day today. We had leisurely breakfast and then headed back down to Windy Corner to retrieve our cached gear that we left there two days ago. The weather was cloudy with light snow, which made for a comfortable walking temperature.
After returning to camp, we reviewed fixed rope travel, in preparation for the next phase of our climb.
Once we felt polished on the fixed rope training, we spent a few hours building walls for our camp and erecting a cook tent. We’re quite comfortable now, here at the 14,200’ camp in Genet Basin.
We’ll play tomorrow by ear, based on the weather. If it is nice out, we’ll climb up above 16,000’ to establish a cache of supplies for our high camp. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll take advantage of a full rest day tomorrow to recover and acclimate. Either option will be a benefit to our team.
Everyone is doing well up here. We’ll keep you posted as to how tomorrow goes.
Cheers,

RMI Guide Mike Walter and team

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Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Move to Camp 1

Posted by: Leon Davis, Lindsay Fixmer, Bridget Belliveau | May 20, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,800'

May 29, 2015 - 9:34 pm PT

Good day-

We are dispatching from a crowded Camp 1 this evening. We had a pleasant four hour walk today under cloudy skies on the main flow of the Kahiltna. We had a strong performance from the team and we plan to bump our camp up to 9,800’ tomorrow morning. It looks like some weather is coming in so we might get some snow tonight. Here’s to hoping we don’t and we will talk to you all from Camp 2!

RMI Guide Leon Davis

An RMI Alaska Seminar Team navigating the glacier.  Photo: Kel Rossiter

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Mt. Everest: RMI Guide Dave Hahn Reflects on the Tragedy in Nepal

Posted by: Dave Hahn | May 19, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest

RMI Guide Dave Hahn reflects on the events surrounding Mt. Everest and the Nepal Earthquake tragedy.

Mount Everest was simply too big for climbing in the Spring of 2015.  The RMI Expeditions team was on the mountain and giving it our very best effort when the Nepal Earthquake struck and changed all priorities.
Six climbers -guided by myself, Jeff Justman and our Sherpa Sirdar Chhering Dorje- made the trek in from Lukla over ten days.  We were one of the very first Everest teams to reach the 17,500 ft Basecamp this season, pulling in healthy and strong on April 4th.  RMI Veteran Guide Mark Tucker, our capable Basecamp Manager, was already on scene along with our Sherpa climbing team and camp support staff.  Frequent snowstorms didn’t keep our team from making a series of acclimatization hikes to local “summits” such as Kalapathar and Pumori Camp One. With great interest, we followed the progress of the Icefall Doctors as they forged a “new” route up the Khumbu Glacier to the Western Cwm.  Our own training and reconnaissance runs through the Icefall were pushed back by repeated snowstorms but we persevered and moved into Camp One at 19,900 ft on April 23.  On the morning of April 25th, the team had climbed to Camp Two (Advanced Basecamp at 21,300 ft) and returned to Camp One ahead of a threatening snowstorm when the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck.  Luckily, due to the poor weather, our Sherpa climbing team had cut short their own climbing mission that morning and had exited the Khumbu Icefall well before the quake hit.  Giant ice avalanches thundered down from seemingly every steep mountainside. 

Fortunately, within just a few minutes via radio, we were able to establish the whereabouts and safety of our entire team. Nonetheless, the reports from basecamp were disturbing in the extreme.  The airblast caused by an avalanche off Pumori had decimated a number of camps while largely flattening our own.  Mark Tucker estimated they’d been hit by a cloud of ice debris moving at perhaps 150 miles per hour.  Even so, Tucker and our Sherpa team engaged in a heroic, prolonged and strenuous effort to attend to the numerous casualties of the disaster.  Those of us at Camp One could do nothing but sit out the snowstorm and hold on for the inevitable aftershocks.  This pronounced and continued shaking made it abundantly clear that a hazardous and time-consuming effort to rebuild the Icefall route was out of the question.  On April 27th, we came back down to basecamp by helicopter.  We were considerably relieved to be safe and united once again, but the scope of the disaster was becoming increasingly clear.  As reports of widespread destruction and disruption across Nepal now came flooding in, climbing mountains quickly receded in importance.  Our Sherpa team was justifiably anxious to be getting back to check on homes and loved ones.  We formally ended our climbing expedition and made plans for heading home.

The three-day walk down toward Lukla allowed ample opportunity for contemplation.  Our emotions were conflicted by the bizarre circumstances we found ourselves in.  In the days immediately following the quake, foreign climbers and trekkers had quickly fled the Khumbu Valley, leaving it blissfully quiet.  As much as we enjoyed the solitude, we each were aware that we were seeing the beginning of the financial disaster that would inevitably follow the natural disaster.  Tourism is virtually the only source of revenue in rural Nepal.  We tried to reconcile the absolute beauty of the setting, still majestic with snow-topped peaks and magical with blooming rhododendrons, with the tragedy on display in the villages.  We walked through funeral ceremonies and past ruined stone homes and lodges.  Locals still greeted us with a warm “Namaste” even as we learned from our Sherpa staff that homes and businesses in these still-picturesque villages were destroyed and that insurance for such losses did not exist.  Then we were down to Namche and Lukla and naturally our focus shifted to getting ourselves out to Kathmandu.  We were simply thankful that facilities like the airports seemed to be getting back to business as usual.  Convinced that getting ourselves out of Nepal as quickly as possible would be our best service to the Nepalese, we each left the country within one or two days of reaching Kathmandu.  I’m certain we were all relieved to get back to the safety and comfort of our homes… but none of us could truly leave behind what we’d seen and experienced.  The aftershocks continued and we were all acutely aware that the 7.2 quake on May 12th had scored a direct hit on the villages of our own Sherpa/Nepali expedition staff.  Previously weakened structures had come down completely and entire villages were ruined.  We are each now struggling from afar to find ways to help those who’ve helped us so much.  It is quite a different mountain than the one we set out to climb back in March… but it is a worthy struggle nonetheless.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Prayer flags fly at Everest Base Camp with Pumori summit behind.  Photo: Jeff Martin
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Dave,

Thank you for your dedication to the people of Nepal before and after this tragedy. I am glad you and the team are safe. My thoughts and prayers go… read more

Posted by: Dan Krawczyk on 5/20/2015 at 3:56 am

Dave, have talked to you several times on the hills of Taos Ski Valley. We consider you the adopted son of New Mexico. Glad you are safe and sound, we… read more

Posted by: Ron on 5/19/2015 at 7:32 pm


Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Rest at 11,000’ Camp

Posted by: Pete Van Deventer, Robby Young, Josh Maggard | May 19, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

May 19, 2015 - 12:39 am PT

We woke to the sound of the mob leaving 11,000’ Camp to move to 14,000’. Winds have prevented teams from moving up for several days, and so 11 has become a bit of a bottle neck. Happy to be tucked into warm sleeping bags and without a camp to move today, we kept dozing until the sun hit our tents. With the warmth, we smashed out a smoked salmon and bagel breakfast, and donned empty packs to retrieve the food and fuel that we cached yesterday. Back in time for an afternoon siesta, we spent some more time horizontal, and then did a quick review of our crampon and ice ax skills. A story filled dinner stretched into the night and now it’s time to get some shut eye. We got the blog comments that you all posted today and read them over dinner. Many thanks. Tomorrow we’ll hopefully boost some food and fuel up higher to windy corner to set us up for a move to 14,000’. Good night to all. We’ll be in touch tomorrow.

RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Robby Young, Josh Maggard, and team

Camp at 11,200 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Train at Kahiltna Base Camp

Posted by: Leon Davis, Lindsay Fixmer, Bridget Belliveau | May 19, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

May 18, 2015 - 11:43 pm PT

Hello-

Our day in Base Camp was as busy as it can get. After a leisurely breakfast of pancakes bacon and coffee, we divided up to learn and practice beacon searches, surface hauling systems and rig our sleds for moving up river. A great day under a blazing sun that had us wondering how we can be surrounded by so much snow yet be so dang hot. Tomorrow we leave our camp loaded with five days of provisions and make our way towards Kahiltna Dome. We will talk again from Camp 1!

RMI Guides Leon Davis, Lindsay Fixmer, Bridget Belliveau & Team

The view from Kahiltna Base Camp.  Photo: Seth Waterfall

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Recent Images From Expedition Dispatches

  • Tent at 14,000' Camp on Mt. McKinley. RMI Photo Collection
  • An RMI team ascending Ski Hill towards 9,800 Camp on Mt. McKinley, AK. Photo: RMI Collection
  • 14k Camp on Mt. McKinley, AK surrounded by fortified walls. Photo: RMI Collection
  • RMI climbers ascending the upper slopes of Mt. Rainier in poor visibility. Photo: Ed Viesturs
  • An RMI Team camped at 14,200 ft on Mt. McKinley, Mt. Foraker in the background.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • An RMI Team taking a weather day at 11,200 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • An RMI Team pulling sled from from Base Camp en route to Camp 1 on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: Chris Villar
  • An RMI team fortifies snow walls for protection from the wind at 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • An RMI team ascending Motorcycle Hill with 11k Camp of Mt. McKinley, AK in the background. Photo: RMI Collection
  • An RMI team ascending the fixed lines outside of 14k Camp on Mt. McKinley, AK. Photo: Brent Okita
  • The May 19th McKinley team preparing for the climb in Talkeetna, AK. Photo: Adam Knoff
  • The May 19th McKinley team ready to fly in Talkeetna, AK. Photo: Adam Knoff
  • An RMI Team camped at 11,200 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: Rob Lindner
  • An RMI Alaska Seminar Team navigating the glacier.  Photo: Kel Rossiter
  • Prayer flags fly at Everest Base Camp with Pumori summit behind.  Photo: Jeff Martin
  • Camp at 11,200 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • The view from Kahiltna Base Camp.  Photo: Seth Waterfall
  • The RMI Posh tent set up at 14,000 ft Camp.  Photo: Lindsay Mann
  • Climbing Windy Corner on Mt. McKinley. RMI Photo Collection
  • The Summit Ridge of Radio Tower. RMI Photo Collection