RMI Expeditions Blog
May 20, 2017
The Four Day Summit Climb team led by RMI Guides Casey Grom and Tyler Jones reached the summit of Mt. Rainier early this morning. Tyler reported clear skies with north winds of 20 - 25 mph.
Congratulations to today’s teams!
May 19, 2017
The Expedition Skills Seminar - Muir May 14-19, 2017 led by RMI Guides Dave Hahn and Chase Nelson spent the week at Camp Muir. The team spent time learning mountaineering skills, knot tying and crevasse rescue. The team experienced windy and snowy conditions for a portion of the week but were rewarded today with beautiful blue sky. They reached the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning around 7:30 and spent an hour enjoying the views and celebrating their accomplishment. Today is the last day of the program so once they return to Camp Muir they will pack their gear and continue their descent to Paradise. We look forward to seeing them at Rainier BaseCamp later today.
Congratulations to today’s climbers!
Great and Awesome. Walking along in thought and prayer.
High Fives to all!!
Mom and Dad
Posted by: Rita Haines on 5/20/2017 at 8:41 am
Thanks to all the guides and all the team members for you help and support. What an awesome experience!!!
Posted by: Robbie Carrey on 5/20/2017 at 7:54 am
May 19, 2017
May 19, 2017
Light snow overnight made everything quiet and still this morning. Camp was sleepy, as it seems everyone took the opportunity to sleep in. We munched our way through a big brunch of hash browns and eggs, and then trotted back downhill under empty packs to grab our cache. That short trip left plenty of time for naps and some chilling time this afternoon before a quick climbing skills refresher to get ready for tomorrow. We intend to trade sleds and snowshoes for crampons tomorrow and get our cache up to Windy Corner. We’ll see if the weather let’s us.
On The Map
Go Jenny!! How exciting! We miss you and hope you are loving it up there. The pictures are beautiful. Can’t wait to see more. Sending love you’re way.
Big Sis & Fam ❤️
Posted by: Jessica on 5/20/2017 at 9:10 am
The views are amazing! You guys are doing great!
Jan- Delta found your backpack! It never left JFK, they delivered it to Lucja’s apartment yesterday. We miss you! Stay safe!
Posted by: Joanna on 5/20/2017 at 8:23 am
May 18, 2017
Our Alaska Mountaineering Seminar May 17 - 27 team is here in Talkeetna, packed and ready to fly…but sometimes ready is not enough. A Southwest flow over the Aleutians is slowly pushing that warm moisture that brings snow and rain to the range. So we played the game of waiting and lost the luck. Nonetheless the team here is of joyous enthusiasm and energy and we shall try again tomorrow.
We will hope for clear skies in the morning.
RMI Guide Mike King
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May 18, 2017
Well, we woke early once again with optimism that we would be moving up to our high camp today. As we bundled up and crawled out of the tent, we were greeted by big, nasty lenticular clouds (UFO-looking, disk-like clouds that are indicative of high winds aloft) over the big three peaks in the Alaska Range: Hunter, Foraker, and our objective, Denali.
We continued with our plan and fired up the stoves and made breakfast. Then we returned to our tents to stay warm as we kept an eye on the winds above. In the end, they didn’t dissipate and we weren’t able to move camp today.
Although we are anxious to move up and have a shot at the summit, the flip side of taking another day at 14k is that we continue to acclimate and get stronger for our eventual summit push. Hopefully we will have that opportunity soon. We’ll keep you up to date with our progress.
Hi Mike, David, Thom and Todd, Just have a good rest. Such a thing wouldn’t happen twice. You guys definitely know how to enjoy the time:) I will keep tracking the progress. Good luck! Lei
Posted by: Lei W on 5/19/2017 at 5:47 am
Robby…..Congrats….you’re an uncle again!!!!! Isaac Robert born Thurs 5/18. See you soon.
Posted by: Mom on 5/19/2017 at 4:45 am
May 18, 2017
Posted by: Kel Rossiter
“I don’t think that people are so much looking for the meaning of life as they are looking for the experience of being alive”—Joseph Campbell
Climbing mountains is ultimately an absurd act, to stand on top of a pile of rocks and call it a success, laughable. In yet, it is something anyone who has ever shared the feeling knows the feeling: powerful, liberated, inspired. Wind-whipped, bodily spent, surrounded by ravaging beauty—beyond providing meaning for living, it provides the feeling of being fully alive. That feeling is only magnified when combined with the pure spirit of speed and fluidity found on a ski descent.
Early May is an excellent time for a climb and ski on Mt. Baker and I’m just back from two trips up in the northern reaches of the Cascades. Thick snows blanket the land—especially after this winter—providing a smooth carpet for cruising up to the high flanks of the mountains. That’s not to say the approach is easy—for starters, as is usual, the road was blocked by snow several miles short of the actual Heliotrope Trailhead. Secondly, navigating through the dense Pacific Northwest forests requires lots of muscles that no amount of resort skiing or even gym training can fully develop. Plus, there’s the prospect of needing to carry those skis on the pack. Forty pound packs quickly become fifty-five on the back. While our first trip allowed us to get to camp on skis, spring comes quickly in the Cascades and by the second trip we were shouldering the skis until treeline.
Whether approached by ski or with those skis on your back, the arrival above treeline on Baker comes abruptly and spectacularly. Unlike many an alpine ascent, where the trees gradually shrink in size to Charlie Brown Christmas trees, on Baker’s Heliotrope Trail approach it goes from massive towers to wide open alpine in the time it takes to apply sunscreen. Clouds came and went throughout our trips, but when they cleared, the stunning serac falls at the terminus of the Coleman Glacier, the stately girth of Mt. Baker’s volcanic cone, and the sheer ice face of Colfax Peak made it clear why we’d worked so hard to get there.
On both trips we were fortunate to have time and energy to enjoy some beautiful turns above camp on Hogsback Ridge. Skinning up, we looked at ways to improve our kick turns, balance, and tracking techniques and to practice roped travel while skiing. Viewing camp from a thousand feet above, we ripped skins, carved turns in sweet-edging snow and cruised back to camp to prep for the summit push.
The morning hour always come early, but it’s a little easier with the benefit of the full moon we experienced. Rising up to boil water for coffee, our shadows mixed among the long shadows cast by the small trees around camp. Shaking out the soreness of the approach, we slurped down some oatmeal and caffeine before clicking in and gliding up. On our first climb we utilized ski crampons to leave camp with skis on, digging the teeth of the crampons in with each step to allow us a smooth ascent. On the second climb we relied instead on boot crampons to power us up past the steeper parts of Hogsback Ridge to where things leveled off enough to skin without crampons. While both can work, ski crampons definitely allow more time to enjoy the fluid uphill motion that skinning provides, and ski crampons are definitely advisable for a Mt. Baker Climb-Ski.
A mix of shaky weather, altitude, and the challenge of converting climbing fitness to skinning finesse stopped us short of the summit on the first trip, but the beauty of ski mountaineering is that even without a summit, every step upward is a success, as it increases the joy of going down. High up on the Pumice Ridge, views of the Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Coastal Range slipped in and out of the clouds as we ripped skins and prepared for the descent. With the light sometimes flat and spring crevasses beginning to show, we pitched things out more conservatively on the descent, allowing time to enjoy all the hard-earned 4000’ of vertical. And with each turn of descent the skiing became increasingly edgeable and enjoyable, a fresh layer atop the thick winter’s snowpack. Rolling back into camp with smiles, fist bumps, and a feeling of refreshment is one of the uniquely attractive aspects ski mountaineering presents to the world of alpine climbing.
The second Mt. Baker Climb-Ski was a custom trip, so it allowed us time to both climb Baker in the optimal (if shaky) weather window and then sneak in some time afterward to focus on the pure joy of climbing to ski. Bagley Lakes, just outside of the Baker Ski Area, provided the perfect venue, as you can drive past 4000’, straight into a ten-foot snowpack, and on out into enchanting alpine lakes guarded by precipitous cliff walls. South facing slopes were graced with an accumulation of wind-blown powder and perfect runs.
Climbing mountains is a process. Summits provide a goal. Skiing down them provides a purpose. Everything that we seek up high is only of value if we can convert it into a currency that enriches our lives in the valley. The 2017 Mt. Baker Climb-Ski trips brought process and purpose together and brought us all back home to the valley floor refreshed and ready to move forward fully alive. Upward, downward, forward. Alive!
—RMI Guide Kel Rossiter
May 18, 2017
May 17, 2017
We’re done with the Kahiltna for now! It’s been snowing lightly all day and for most of the day it was hard to tell where the ground ended and the sky began, but we had a good gps track to follow and we plugged our way along. The wind was moving snow around as we got close to Kahiltna Pass, making for some tough trail breaking. With all of that the team did great, hanging tough through a hard day and then rallying and buffing out a nice new abode at 11,000’ Camp once we arrived.
We’ve been going hard for three days now, and it’s time to spend some time recovering from our big loads, sleds, blisters, etc, while we acclimate and get strong here. Our plan is to make the short jaunt back to our cache tomorrow to retrieve it. Some time in the tents chilling is in order too.
RMI Guides Pete, Jess, Jenny and team
On The Map
Stay strong, be safe, enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. Love you much Jenny. Your momma ❤️
Posted by: Melinda widmer on 5/18/2017 at 7:52 pm
May 17, 2017
We arose early this morning and fired up the stoves with the intention of packing up camp and moving up to 17,200’. At breakfast we kept an eye on the conditions on the upper mountain. The wind was blowing plumes of snow off of the upper mountain and the Buttress and we decided to pump the breaks. With a good forecast ahead of us, and plenty of food and fuel, we decided not to push it by moving up into stormy weather. We decided to wait it out down here at 14k where we are comfortable and are getting stronger.
Our team will remain on standby and hopefully tomorrow’s weather will allow us to move up to high camp. Currently it is snowing lightly here at camp and we are resting, hydrating, and eating. We’ll be ready when the opportunity presents itself.
On The Map
Hi Guys, Great progress! Waiting for the photo on the top.
Posted by: Lei W on 5/17/2017 at 7:50 pm
May 17, 2017
We woke in the shadow of Denali, but the skies were clear and promised sun. Bagels and lox got everything started, and since the sun was shining we made hay. We grabbed 34 bags of food, 17 days worth, and a bunch of gas and moved it all uphill to 10,600 or so, just below 11,000’ Camp. The loads were heavy and Ski Hill made us work for it, but compared to yesterday, the loads didn’t even compare. Today’s work set us up well to move to our 11,000’ Camp with reasonable loads and establish our new home! 7,600’ Camp has been fun, but we are ready to move on. Loaded quesadillas for dinner have us feeling the oncoming food coma, so for now, over and out from the Kahiltna glacier.
RMI Guides Pete, Jess, Jenny, and the team
On The Map
G’day from Sydney Australia,It’s 20degC and we feel cold !Well on schedule so far- hard work but hopefully enjoying the experience in particular such surroundings.In retirement we feel part of the adventure but without the pain thanks to the regular messages from Mark and Rachel and the great RMI updates - especially the photos - keep safe - we are with you all in spirit.
Posted by: Philip and Yvonne Calvert on 5/19/2017 at 12:14 am
Pete Bilodeaus sis here… Just wanted to say hi! Looks like beautiful weather and unbelievable scenery! Love the blog updates…you all are bad ass!!!
Have fun and be safe! Thinking of you all..
Posted by: Carol Goetz on 5/18/2017 at 7:08 pm
May 16, 2017
May 16, 2017
We had another productive day yesterday, as we put in a cache of food and fuel all the way up to our high camp at 17,200’.
We crawled out of the sleeping bags early and braved a bitterly cold morning (-20F) to get a head start of the day. We climbed in the shade for our first hour and enjoyed the first rays of sunlight at our first break. Everyone climbed smoothly up the fixed ropes up to 16,200’. The next 1,000’ was climbing the ridge top on the West Buttress with thousands of feet of relief on either side of us. We spent about an hour at 17,200’, digging a cache hole and breathing the rare air.
It was a long, hard day and everyone did well. Now, we are taking a much deserved rest day. We are now in position to move to high camp and take a shot at the summit. The weather will dictate the next move, but right now the forecast looks good for a summit bid in the next few days. We’ll keep you posted.