June 3, 2019
The RMI Denali May 8th Team led by RMI Guides Mike Walter, Alan Davis & Alex Halliday returned to Talkeetna yesterday. After lots of waiting at 14,000’ Camp on both the ascent and descent, the weather allowed the team to depart Kahiltna Basecamp. Once in Talkeetna the team sorted gear, arranged rooms, shuttle transportation and flight homes. The trip ended with a celebratory meal before spending their final night in Alaska. All team members should be making their way back to their respective homes. We would like to congratulate them on a safe and successful expedition.
Thanks for following along on their adventure.
June 2, 2019
Sunday, June 2, 2019 - 8:13 AM PT
We took advantage of a lull in the weather to pack up our kit and descend from 14,000’ to Basecamp. We encountered light snow, but generally pleasant travel conditions during our 8 hour descent.
Here at Kahiltna Basecamp it is a crowded scene, as no planes have been able to land here in a few days. Hopefully the weather breaks and we can fly to Talkeetna today. That’s it for now. There’s still a lot of work to do organizing gear to prepare for a flight.
RMI Guide Mike Walter
We’re all relieved, knowing that you’re off the mountain and safely onto base camp! So happy for the successful team members too!! Tell Dan Koster hello from his family and friends. We can’t wait to see him soon!
Posted by: Mark Koster on 6/2/2019 at 5:25 pm
So glad to hear you are all safely back at base camp and I hope the weather cooperates for you to fly out of there. Congratulations Jim and team on your successful summit - what an amazing accomplishment! Jim, we cant wait to hear more about it.
Posted by: Clare on 6/2/2019 at 8:48 am
May 31, 2019
Friday, May 31, 2019 2:49 PM PT
Nothing is easy about climbing Denali. Just ask any member of our team who worked hard for more than two weeks before standing on top of the highest point in North America 17 days after landing at Base Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier. But that doesn’t even tell the whole story. Our team eagerly awaited the start of this expedition and spent three antsy days in Talkeetna waiting for good enough weather to fly into Basecamp as a storm sat over the Alaska Range. Now, after summitting, we have descended to the 14k camp and are comfortably nestled in to our old camp. We are socked in the clouds and it is snowing. This morning we spoke via radio with Robby Young, who is leading the 4th RMI Denali expedition. He reported heavy and wet snow on the Kahiltna Glacier between 7800’ and 9600’. The weather forecast is calling for heavy snow to continue through tomorrow, hopefully tapering on Sunday. No planes are flying and we are at the mercy of the weather once again. This time we are eagerly awaiting hot showers, cold beer, clean clothes, and a chance to talk with loved ones. Oh, and also flush toilets. Not necessarily in that order.
Mountain weather is fickle and right now we are at her mercy. We’ll take the good weather on summit day in exchange for playing the waiting game on both the front and tail ends of our expedition. And for now we’re practicing our Zen patience in the comfort of our 14k camp.
I’ve been following Tom M’s InReach and it looks to me like you’ve reached Kahiltna Glacier - Yahoo!! Welcome back. Congrats on completing the descent, hopefully the planes will be flying you off the glacier shortly. In the interim you’ll probably be digging up a cache of beer, perhaps a nice bottle of bourbon???
When you get back to Talkeetna enjoy: a cold beer or 2, a burger or 3, a looong hot shower, clean clothes, another cold beer, more burgers, perhaps a pizza, calls to loved ones -that’s my recommended order!
It’s after midnight here (and there) but since you’re all awake I’m going to join you in a long awaited celebratory drink. A toast to you all: TEAM WALTER 2019, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SUCCESSFUL EXPEDITION, YOU ROCK!!
Posted by: Jacquie Byatt on 6/2/2019 at 12:28 am
Wow, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to reach the top of the world. Stay safe and warm. I’m in 91 degree weather, maybe send just a little of the cold this way.
Posted by: Peggy Robertson on 6/1/2019 at 9:44 am
May 30, 2019
Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 8:03 PM PT
Today we had a more relaxing morning than the past few alpine starts. High camp was cold and breezy, and we enjoyed breakfast in the comfort of our sleeping bags. Blowing snow was evident on the upper mountain, reminding us how fortuitous we were to have a good weather window in which to summit.
We let the air warm up a bit and the winds abate and then we packed up camp and descended the West Buttress and the fixed ropes on the Headwall. We’re now down in the relative warmth and comfort of the 14,200’ camp. The air feels a lot thicker here now than when we left it a few days ago.
The plan is to get a good night’s sleep and continue our descent tomorrow. The weather forecast is calling for a front to move in tonight bringing snow into Sunday. So we’ll play it by ear with where/ when we descend, knowing that planes may not be able to fly into the Kahiltna airstrip until Sunday. We’re all content and getting good rest for our long descent down the Kahiltna.
On The Map
The air must be chewy at that low altitude. The accomplishment with full saftety has all our admirations. here at the San Rafael Rotary Club
Posted by: Paul Claeyssens on 5/31/2019 at 1:20 am
Hi Piet, feather in your cap!!
Stay safe on the way down.
Posted by: Frik Botha on 5/30/2019 at 10:14 pm
May 30, 2019
Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 12:26 AM PT
The weather was beautiful this morning with no clouds above us and no sign of wind. We got the stoves cranking again at 4:30 in order to beat the crowds (today was the busiest summit day of the season so far, as there was a backup of climbers that were delayed by last week’s stormy weather. We estimate about 100 climbers went for the summit today.). We got rolling out of camp at 8:30 and walked into the frigid, shady slopes of the Audobon, which is a steep traverse for a thousand feet up to Denali Pass. We clipped about 40 snow pickets in a running belay to add security.
Around the corner from Denali Pass we stepped into the sun and began climbing south pass Zebra Rocks and the Arch Deacon’s Tower into the Football Field. The last hurdle before the summit ridge was climbing up the strenuous Pig Hill up to the Kahiltna Horn. Then the narrow, corniced ridge brought us to the summit at 20,310’.
The climb is always challenging, but it was made more so due to cold 15-25 headwinds for most of the climb. We needed to wear goggles and face protection to keep from freezing our skin.
But we did it. And we’re about to crawl into our sleeping bags at the 17,200’ high camp for some well deserved sleep. Tomorrow we will start our descent.
Congrats Pieter! I enjoyed hearing about your trip on our airplane ride to Anchorage and am excited to see that your climb was a success!
Posted by: Mike Miller on 5/31/2019 at 10:09 pm
Huge congrats, Pieter, and to the rest of your team!!! We are in total awe and couldn’t be happier for you! Can’t wait to hear all about it when you’re back. Sending love and best wishes. xo, Marla, Mer & Kira
Posted by: MARLA on 5/31/2019 at 11:38 am
May 28, 2019
Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 6:12 PM PT
Today dawned clear and calm and cold. I got out of the tent at the frigid hour of 4:30 am to start the stoves. I woke everyone else shortly thereafter to start packing up their sleeping bags and gearing up for our move to High Camp, we were rolling by 7:10. Clouds had moved in and by the time we topped out on the fixed lines a light breeze kept the temps cold. We made good time navigating the fixed ropes and the West Buttress Ridge all the way to 17,200’. Five hours and ten minutes after leaving 14 Camp we were in 17 Camp. But we had hours of work to do, digging and chipping flat tent platforms out of rock hard ice and wind eroded snow.
Now we’re all moved in to our tents, we’ve filled water bottles, and we’re making more water for dinner. We’re hoping the weather forecast validates and tomorrow will let us have a stab at the summit. If not, we’re set up with food and fuel to wait a handful of days until we get our chance. We’ll keep you posted.
Congratulations to everyone! Prayers to all for a safe descent.
Your followers in Columbus, Georgia :)
Posted by: Janette on 5/30/2019 at 5:48 am
It looks like you reached the summit yesterday at around 5:30pm? We have been closely following your progress through the Garmin updates from one of your team members. Can’t wait to read the update. Hope you are all doing well and enjoying the amazing achievement.
Posted by: Suretha on 5/30/2019 at 5:45 am
May 27, 2019
Monday, May 27, 2019 - 5:41 PM PT
Winds remained strong overnight and our camp weathered the storm admirably. The combo of strong mountaineering tents, solid anchors, and stout snow walls creates a pretty burly fortress against the elements.
This morning we had some blue sky above us for a couple hours before the clouds eased back in. Winds up high on the West Buttress continue to be strong. We’re hopeful that the weather forecast validates and winds will diminish by tomorrow. We might have a short window to summit in the next few days. We’ll see what plays out, but we’d like to climb to High Camp tomorrow and hopefully have a chance to summit on Wednesday. We’re at the mercy of the weather though, so our schedule remains flexible to her whim.
On The Map
Wishing you great climbing weather for the summit bid. I’m hoping that when I wake up in the morning (May 29) I’ll see your personal tracker shows you’re well on your way to the summit.
Take care Tom M and the whole Walter team.
Posted by: Jacquie Byatt on 5/28/2019 at 9:03 pm
Let Dan Koster know that his family has been following your blog and we are excited for the summit bid! Glad you weathered the storm and are pushing on to Camp 17,200’!
Go Team Walter!
Posted by: Mark Koster on 5/28/2019 at 12:27 pm
May 26, 2019
We’re at 14 Camp weathering out a storm that is producing snow and wind. We established robust snow walls around our camp so we’re doing just fine. We enjoyed a multi-hour brunch and coffee session this morning in the comfort of our cook tent, protected from the elements.
Now, everyone is nestled in their tents relaxing, reading, snacking or snoozing to pass the time. The sound of snow hitting the tent and the flapping of nylon tent flies in the wind are reminders of harsh conditions outside while we rest comfortably in our sleeping bags.
The storm is forecast to continue through tomorrow, easing on Tuesday.
RMI Guide Mike Walter
On The Map
It seems you are getting plenty of acclimatization there. Hearing any stories to tell us?
Posted by: Paul Claeyssens and San Rafael Rotary on 5/26/2019 at 9:10 pm
May 25, 2019
Today dawned beautifully clear, cold and calm. But we knew it wouldn’t last as a multi day storm was forecast to start impacting the mountain today. So we got up early and had breakfast and fellow guide Alan Davis and the crew took advantage of the clear weather to head over to the Edge of the World, a dramatic overlook just outside of 14 camp that looks down on the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier and out to the Base of Ski Hill on the main Kahiltna Glacier where we established our first camp nearly two weeks ago.
After returning from the Edge, the team returned to camp and got right to work fortifying our already impressive snow walls. The goal was to be ready for any strong winds that will hit out camp during this imminent storm.
Meanwhile, fellow guide Alex Halliday and I went back down to the 11,200’ camp where we had cached some extra food and fuel. We dug up the cache and snagged the supplies and returned back up to 14,200’. The goal here was to be sure we had sufficient supplies should the storm extend further than forecast.
All in all, it was a productive day. And now the storm has begun. It is currently snowing with very limited visibility and gusty winds. And we’re ready for it. We hope to weather the storm and take advantage of a potential weather window early next week to make a bid for the summit.
That’s it for now,
RMI Guide Mike Walter
On The Map
May 24, 2019
Friday, May 24, 2019, 3:49 PM PT
Last night was warm (for 14,200’ on Denali) and we woke to clear, calm skies. It looks like it would be a good day to move up high, but there is a strong weather front forecast for this weekend and we weren’t quite ready to make a dash uphill to try to take advantage of this short weather window. Instead, we’re taking another rest day and enjoying the sun and warm temps.
We took a rope team up the fixed lines again today to get some exercise and stretch the legs, anticipating another few rest days in our near future.
The team is doing well and we’re in position to strike when our weather window appears.
On The Map
I have been quietly following your progress and the memories have been flooding back. The photos look incredible. So very jealous and wish I was sharing it with you.
Fantastic effort getting the cache all the way to 17k in a one-er! Wow, that’s a big day!
I hope the storm abates and the mountain opens the route higher for you…all that new ground to explore.
Stay safe Pieter…looking forward to seeing you and hearing all about it later in the year. Paul
Posted by: Paul Summers on 5/26/2019 at 2:00 am
It was nice to hear of your day of sunshine! Stay warm and safe as the atmospheric storm approaches this weekend! A special callout to Tom M - we are all following your accent and keeping our fingers crossed for a successful summit this year! xo
Posted by: Susan Mulvey on 5/25/2019 at 8:36 am