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RMI Expeditions Blog

Alaska Seminar: Team works on Knot Tying and Story Telling

May 21, 2016 - 10:52 am PT

Well today our team got to practice a Denali soft skill that may be one of the most crucial; How to occupy your mind when the weather keeps you stagnant. We woke up inside a Ping pong ball and this strange snow that turned to rain as soon as it touched us. The team spent most of the day inside the kitchen telling stories, laughing and tying 50 meters worth of knots on our climbing rope. At times it was a tough lesson but the team stood strong. After dinner the skies started to break and eager for some activity, we broke camp and made a move back to base camp. It was eerily calm to have the glacier all to ourselves in a whiteout. It’s just past midnight now and we have just crawled into our tents. Tomorrow we are really hoping for some sun!

RMI Guide Leon Davis

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Take Rest Day at 14,000’

May 21, 2016 - 1:18 am PT

For most of today it huffed and puffed and the snow fell heavily. We haven’t been able to see much, and the wind has been gusting pretty strongly. We made the easy choice to take today as a rest day and fortify our camp, which proved to be the right decision as the gusts grew stronger as the day went on. Instead, we ate a great brunch of smoked salmon and bagels, then set to work reinforcing our compounds with big walls (some wondered how much of a rest day it was carrying a couple hundred 20 pound blocks of snow). With our camp solid, we retired to the tents for naps and rest, before a delicious dinner of Mac and cheese with bacon. It’s still snowing hard, though the winds are starting to calm. We’re expecting to still wake up to some snow, but hopefully the winds abate, the visibility improves, and we take a quick walk back to retrieve our cache. If not, we still have plenty of delicious food up here and we’ll continue to acclimate and get strong in the thinner air of 14.


RMI Guides Pete, Robby, Jess, and our stellar team of high altitude athletes

On The Map

Geez, you all seem to be eating well!  Scott I hope you’re getting some good many ideas for our next climb—no more of those just-add-water instant dinner thingies!  ;-)

Be safe y’all, and enjoy the journey.

Posted by: Chris Beaudette on 5/22/2016 at 1:02 pm

Mac and cheese Justin??? I feel bad for your tent mates!!!!!!! Hopefully the storm will relent soon enough. This past week, we finally had a nice stretch of sunny weather here in Colorado and I am missing you on my hikes. I almost stepped on a rattlesnake and realized I really need to review my WFR notes ...

Posted by: Patrice La Vigne on 5/21/2016 at 3:35 pm

Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Waiting Out the Weather

May 20, 2016 - 5:36 pm PT

We’re hunkered down in our tents today as a significant storm rages outside. Fortunately the snow walls we constructed are taking the brunt if the winds. It’s been snowing all day, and visibility is near zero.
We’re all safe and relatively comfortable in our camp between our tents and our cook tent. High above our camp you can hear the winds crashing over the West Buttress like waves on a rocky coastline. The winds up at that altitude are forecast to reach 85 mph.
This storm will hopefully start to taper off tomorrow and give us a chance to move up to high camp for a summit bid. We’ll keep you posted, but for now we’re in a holding pattern.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

On The Map

Hi Della, dis rof besig hier met die winter konserte en Kaela was siek met Tonsilites. Ons mis jou baie. Die koppie klimery moet nou klaarkom. Anyway, for those who did not understand. Get to the top in double quick time and get your buds of the mountain. Your family’ s need you..

Posted by: jaco on 5/21/2016 at 1:54 pm

Hey Rob!, So excited to hear from you! Stay strong and stay well.  We are praying for good weather so you and the team can go for the summit. Love to you. Mom, Dad and Katie

Posted by: Robert & Toni Caldwell on 5/21/2016 at 5:27 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team at Kahiltna Base Camp and in Talkeetna

May 19, 2016 - Thursday Evening Post

After much deliberation on the part of the pilots, management Basecamp personnel of our flight service the teams launched for Basecamp. Weather was uncertain but K2, our air service, wanted to at least try to get us in the mountain.
The first plane landed, but with a ground fog rolling in the second of our planes had to turn back.
So, here we are, enjoying life on the mountain finally. Although our partners in Talkeetna are sleeping in beds and enjoying burgers and beer, this is what we’ve all come here for.
The drama of the spectacular mountains around us has been sometimes muted by clouds moving in, but the team is excited to be here and eager to learn. Before setting up camp we practiced numerous skills, hoping our partners would get lucky and be able to fly on. But such was not the case tonight.
Unfortunate though that might be, I’m delighted to be with folks so psyched to be here and learn and help out. What a great trip this will be.

RMI Guide Brent Okita

May 20, 2016 - 4:30 pm PT

A snowy morning greeted us as we finally crawled out of our sleeping bags after our first night on the mountain. Unfortunately, the visibility was poor too, so our intentions of bringing a cache of supplies further up the mountain were thwarted. Instead, breakfast flowed into lunch as we enjoyed the comfort provided by our cook/dining tent. Stories were shared over a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, followed by more hot drinks and culminating in a hot pot of Ramen for lunch as we make the most of this weather day holding slim chance of having our other half of the team fly in to join us.
A quick satellite phone call to Christina and the team in Talkeetna let us know they have been making the most of their time by training and practicing skills that we’ll need later in the trip.
The Kahiltna crew has not been slacking either, regardless of how the previous narrative sounds. Knots, tent set up, anchors, rescue systems and stove operations have been reviewed and practiced. The team is firing on all cylinders.
Wish us better luck with the weather tomorrow.

RMI Guide Brent Okita and the Kahiltna crew

Mt. Rainier: Expedition Skills Seminar Completes Their Training

The May 15 - 20 Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir teams finished up their training at Camp Muir this morning.  With a successful summit climb on Wednesday the teams spent yesterday working on crevasse rescue training.  Today they packed up and left Camp Muir shortly before 11 am headed for Paradise.
We look forward to seeing them later today.

Congratulations to the Seminar Teams!

Good luck on the summit today.  Make us proud.
- Josh

Posted by: Josh Wall on 5/21/2016 at 9:39 am

Dave and Shane?  Are you with this group?  Good luck and much stamina for today!

Posted by: George Head on 5/21/2016 at 9:27 am

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Make Move to 14,000’ Camp

May 20, 2016 - 12:24 am PT

Stupendous day here on Denali! We fought saucy winds through the aptly named Windy Corner, but the sky stayed pristinely azure, and the team ducked their heads into the chilly breeze and powered around the corner, where the winds promptly died. We rolled into 14 looking like a fresh pair of socks, and started building our own fortress next to that of Mike Walter’s crew. As the temps dropped, we ate a hearty dinner and retired to the tents. We have a light day on tap tomorrow, returning to our cache to retrieve food and fuel and fully move into 14.

Best from our new abode,

RMI Guides Pete, Jess, Robby, and team

On The Map

Well Lisa looks like u and team r making good progress to the top and avoiding the bad conditions that can pop up in a moment , incredible journey for u and team Van Demvender keep posting ur moves ,  be safe and strong Climb On,

Posted by: Joe& Patty on 5/21/2016 at 3:08 am

Seems like you’re all doing fine in the incredibly beautiful landscape. I understand you are maintaining a physically tough trip, but as long as your packing is under control, no need to worry!  Wish you a nice go with the final passage up to the top. Inger says hello too. Love, Maria.

Posted by: Maria Hedlund on 5/20/2016 at 10:58 pm

Denali Expedition: Walter & Team Sit Tight at 14,000’

May 19, 2016 - 10:28 pm PT

We hung out around camp again today, as the current weather nor the forecast for Denali are conducive to going higher right now. We spent a large part of the day building snow walls around our camp at 14,000’ to protect against wind.
Our plan for tomorrow is similar to today, as we ride out this storm and hope for better weather in a few days.
We’ll check in again tomorrow.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

On The Map

Alaska Seminar: Having Fun with Ridge Climbing and Sled Races

May 19, 2016 - 9:44 pm PT

Hello from Farine basin,

This morning under cloudy calm skies our team ventured onto the east ridge of Farine, an old remnant of perhaps a volcano comprised of very black rock.
Fun climbing on a ridge overlooking Camp 1 took us to a series of crumbling rock spires. We were stopped by bad snow in a steep gully capped by some very bad rock. As we descended in whiteout conditions to clearing clouds we got some great views of the surrounding valley. Back at camp with some time to kill, many folks grabbed some sleds to race down a slope just above our camp. Lots of belly laughing and memorable moments to behold as spectator or participant.  It’s getting quite cold now so we are headed back to our tents to warm up.

Goodnight all.
RMI Guides Leon Davis, Mike King and Megan Budge

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

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