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Entries from Expedition Dispatches


Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Wait out the Storm

May 28, 2017

Today is very stormy on Denali. Poor visibility, gusty winds and cold temps keep us in our tents today. This morning we had a great joint breakfast with the RMI #2 team’s guides and climbers. Other than that, not much new to report. Camp is quiet as no one is venturing out in this weather.
There hasn’t been a summit in nearly two weeks, and only a few teams have ventured up to high camp (17,200’, where we cached 12 days ago), and most of those that have returned with frostbite. It has been cold and windy for a while now. It has to change, right? It’s coming down to the wire for our team as our food supply dwindles. We still have hope though…

RMI Guide Mike Walter

On The Map

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Denali Expedition: Jones & Team Fly Onto Denali

May 28, 2017 1:32 am PST

Hi from Denali!

The team got a break in the weather around noon today! Big day indeed for flying! We unloaded our gear from the planes, repacked our duffel bags, loaded our sleds and heavy packs and got on the move to our first camp at 7,800ft. The trip to the mountains is finally underway. We made great time in the light cloud cover keeping the air cool in the often blistering heat of the lower Kahiltna glacier. We set up camp had a quick dinner and are now resting our bones!

RMI Guide Tyler Jones & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Glad you guys are now on your way to bigger things! As Todd’s girls say; “keep on keepin’ on!”
Be safe and stay warm.

Posted by: Susan Brashear on 5/29/2017 at 1:24 am

Hooray for you to be on your way!  Best wishes as you continue your journey.  Go Team!!

Posted by: Kristi Kennelly (AKA Tym's mom) on 5/28/2017 at 4:48 pm


Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Practice Crevasse Rescue at 14,200’

May 27, 2017 11:51 pm PST

Denali loves to tease. We poked our heads out early this morning to frigid temps and a big, dark cap above us. It was enough to quickly convince us to bury our heads back in our sleeping bags for a bit. At our next check though, the cap was thin, the sky clear, and things looking decidedly in our favor. We jumped out, endured the -30 temps’ effects on our toes, and fired stoves for breakfast. The sun broke across camp and we were making moves to get ready to carry. We watched instead however as the cap built, winds started to blow along the West Buttress, and we weren’t so sure. All across camp, folks had taken down tents, were packed and ready to walk, and leaned on snow walls staring uphill, exchanging doubts with their neighbors. In short order, we pulled the plug on our carry, other teams’ tents went back up, and everyone settled in for another rest day. Such is the rhythm of Denali.

After a few rest days in a row, the tents aren’t quite as inviting, the novelty having worn off. So we spent a few hours this afternoon looking at crevasse haul systems, and comparing, exchanging ideas and broadening our skills.

We’re in the waiting game. We’ve got plenty of food and tonne, so we aren’t in a rush. We’re enjoying the beauty of where we are right now, sure that our chance will come soon.

RMI Guides Pete, Jess, Jenny, and Team

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Hello, Amazing Mountaineers!  So sorry that the only thing you have exercised the last few days is your patience.  Hoping and praying for good weather.  Pete, Jess and Jenny, we can’t thank you enough for keeping the team’s safety as your top priority.  We are impressed with your creative efforts to keep boredom and impatience at bay.  It seems you are all using this break to get to know one another and build comradery.  I doubt you had much time for this the first part of the trip as you practically sprinted up to the 14 camp!  Your meals sound good.  Hope Mark didn’t whine too much about the lentil, kale and quinoa stew! 

Rachel, is that you in the snow hole in the picture posted on May 20th?
Will the team ahead of you have to complete their summit and return to 14 or 17 before your team can start?

 

Posted by: Sue Shoemaker on 5/28/2017 at 10:29 pm

test of system

Posted by: Sue Shoemaker on 5/28/2017 at 9:52 pm


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Cache Gear at 13,500’

May 27, 2017 10:15 pm PST

During our break on the Polo Field at 12,800’,someone asked if we could keep our big down parkas on. Good question. It was pretty darned cold and the wind was directly into our face. I’d never had to climb in my parka at that elevator before, but it sure sounded like a good idea to me. Our attempt yesterday really set us up for success today. The team learned how to keep their faces protected while not fogging up their glasses or goggles. And that allowed us to travel in some chilly conditions today. A great skill to have before we get to the higher, colder parts of the mountain. Our time thus far has been particularly cold and unsettled. I’m just glad we haven’t been hanging up at 14,200’ this whole time like our other two groups. With luck, we’ll get there just as this predicted high pressure system comes through, hopefully with the expected rise in temperatures too. We wore those parkas all the way around Windy Corner to our cache site at 13,500’, where we were finally sheltered from the wind and could bask in some sunny, warm weather. Amazingly, we all opted to keep those big coats on all the way back to camp. With the wind at our backs and nothing much in our packs, we could gloat just a bit as we passed by the madding crowds on the uphill slog into the cold wind. Our hard work was done, and we were headed back to camp. There’s something to be said about being up early and back early even at the cost of breaking trail each morning.

If we get another break with the weather tomorrow, we might just make the move to 14,200’ camp. That would be fantastic, especially how everyone is doing so well.
That’s it from 11,200’. It’s been a big day.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina, JT & Team

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MT. Rainier: May 28th Summit!

The Four Day Summit Climb team led by RMI Guides Casey Grom and Chase Nelson reached the summit of Mt. Rainier early this morning. Casey reported that the team is enjoying clear, calm and peaceful skies. The team was leaving the Crater Rim at 6:50 am and are now en route to Camp Muir.

Congratulations to today’s team!

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Bolivia Expedition: Frank & Team Descend from Condoriri Group and Return to La Paz

May 27, 2017

A well deserved sleep and sluggish morning let the team regain our feet.  Yet, we managed to make the most of it. Our jaunt out of the Condoriri group wasn’t quite complete until half the group had jumped into a snow fed reservoir and scrambled back to dry land as fast as our frozen limbs could manage. For all of us, 14,500ft was the highest we had ever swam.
A brief stint of skipping stones on clear glassy ponds, and passing the time with our new matted canine friend had the group back into the van and on our way to the city. Today happens to be mothers day down here in Bolivia, (Hi Mom!) and we were greeted with street parties, colorful attire, traffic zebras and a box of empanadas once we passed within city limits. To close out the night, we celebrated our first summit success with a feast of unrealistically large and delicious slabs of meat. And now we go to bed early amid the ‘thick’ 12,000ft city air, ready to skip right back into the mountains come sunrise. 
Here are a few teaser photos from our ascent of.

RMI Guides Caleb Ladue, Eric Frank and Team Bolivia

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Good work Kim! Sounds awesome! Were you one of the swimmers?

Posted by: Josh Hostetler on 5/28/2017 at 6:19 am


Alaska Seminar: Davis & Team Return to Talkeetna

Groundhog day again. We woke to better weather but there was still enough weather in Talkeetna to keep the plane grounded. Some of us were in the tent sleeping when we got the word that K2 planes were inbound. The team rallied quickly and moved gear to the runway and by early afternoon we were back in town. Typical Alaska weather for us but a great introduction to the team. What a great group of people to share time with in the Alaska range. One of a kind collection of personalities and memories to carry with us forever. Thanks for following!

RMI Guides Leon Davis, Mike King and Jessie Poquerusse

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Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Continue to Wait for Better Weather

May 27th, 2017

We woke to another day of bitterly cold temps and strong winds above. The weather forecast looks promising for the next few days, so we are optimistic that we will finally get our shot. We’re hanging in there and trying to be patient with this long wait. Hopefully it will pay off.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

On The Map

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Happy Birthday, David! Lots of folks at lower, warmer elevations wishing you well today. Hope the weather gods give you a present of a break in the storms so that you can ascend that peak! Thinking of all of you…Nancy

Posted by: Nancy Hines on 5/28/2017 at 9:05 am


Denali Expedition: Van Deventer &Team Create a Weather Day Rhyme

Hello everyone!

Today we rose early, before the sun.
It was darn cold out,  but we still woke everyone.
We ate blueberry pancakes with maple sauce, Man they were delicious and they were the boss!
We were hoping for good weather, to carry to 17.
But the mountain above us remained unseen.
We chatted with our neighbors and told some jokes, Man those guys are funny blokes!
Tomorrow we’ll see what the weather brings. 
Hopefully that old sunshine comes out and sings!

RMI Guide Jenny and The camp 14 Hiphopapotomus

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

The extent some will go to to have such a breakfast -amazing. Frostbite not nice - hope those Koreans not too serious. We also find your waiting game frustrating - maybe tomorrow lots of sunshine, no snow or wind. Current camp is getting crowded - good to share experiences with other teams.Always look forward to your next report. - take care and safe climbing.P andV.

Posted by: Phil and Vonne Calvert on 5/27/2017 at 6:16 pm

Go Rachel and Mark!! We’re cheering you on from balmy Houston, Texas! Thanks for the updates - makes for nice breaks from chasing the tots. You two are amazing!

Posted by: Kate Patrick on 5/27/2017 at 6:08 pm


Denali Expedition: Meet RMI Guide Brent Okita & Team

Awakening to blue skies we were ready to carry to 13,500’, but, unfortunately, the winds picked up suddenly at the top of Motorcycle Hill and we were forced to bury our load there and retreat to the protection and comfort of camp. The weather taught us some valuable lessons about taking care of ourselves, lessons that will do us well later in the trip as we get higher on the mountain.

As I’ve mentioned before, we do have a pretty cool team. Perhaps I’ll share a brief sketch of the individuals on this team.

I’ll start with an incredibly impressive lady who’s palmares in mountain climbing outshines most of our accomplishments. And her ability to handle the outrageous loads this climb demands rivals climbers half her age. Oh, she/we hope this summit will be her 50th.

Another member who shares ‘senior’ status with the aforementioned climber comes from Vermont and is no stranger to cold, harsh conditions. He hasn’t been fazed by any of the weather challenges and has handled the climbing like a rock star! No surprise though - I’ve climbed with him before and reached the summit with his step daughter on this mountain a few years ago.

A climber very dear to my heart, and a favorite of us all, hails from England, and is here with me for the second time. Having not reached the summit the first time, he’s back for more. Such a kind-hearted, nicer person you will never meet, and he’s more comfortable with the mountain this time around.  He is the type of person who makes you feel good to be around him.

We have a couple from Colorado who climbed with me last fall on Rainier. She is amazingly strong, and weighing in at half the weight of some of my climbers, she has still been able to do her part in load carrying and always manages to greet the day with a huge smile.Her other half has the strength of two men, and the energy that knows no bounds. Always helping out with camp chores, we have to sometimes rein him in so he doesn’t make us guides look like slackers.

Another couple climbed with me two years ago, but could make this trip happen last year, so here they are. We’ve really needed to help her come out of her shell here (NOT). She’s a dynamo, and I remember her strength two years ago. I think she’s even stronger now, as evident in the guns she’s sporting for quads. Her husband balances her outgoing nature so nicely, and it’s fun watching them together.  he has trained incredibly hard, unwilling to be outdone by his partner. In fact, when there is trail breaking to do, I put him right behind me in the hardest spot.

Our last member I remember meeting as I passed one of our Alaskan seminars that take place on the mountain. And now he’s here, doing it. Sometimes a bit quieter than the others, he constantly impresses me with strength and ability. Apparently, he’s sporting a battery of electronics, but the guy can definitely handle it. He works for Samsung, so I guess it just makes sense.
And then there are the guides:

On his first trip here, JT is rocking it! Always working and asking great questions, he’s guiding like a seasoned pro. Great in difficult situations, he’s been great company in the tent too.

On our second trip together, Christina has been nothing but exceptional. A joy to be around, she also knows the ins and outs of these climbs and I rely upon her for tying together all the details that makes the expedition run so well.

Then there’s me. Just a simple guy that likes walking uphill and bore you with details of life here on the mountain. I’ll try not to be so long winded next time.

Good night from 11,200’.

RMI Guide Brent Okita

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi Bill!

Been lots of fun following your trip, makes me want to get back there for sure. Sounds like you’ve got a great group and are climbing strong (of course!). Knee is doing well, taking my stitches out was an adventure and school is busy. Enjoy these rest days, an extra day to acclimatize is never bad although I’d imagine you’re also eager to keep moving. I know you’re good at taking care of yourself when the weather turns! Have lots of fun! And tell Brent I say hi!!
Love K

Posted by: Kristen Kelliher on 5/28/2017 at 7:47 am

I love your emails…..the longer the better….Look forward to and enjoy them everyday!  Thanks for sharing!
Stay safe and a great big “miss you” to Lindsay and Steve!

Posted by: Sandra Friaglia on 5/28/2017 at 6:32 am

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