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Mt. McKinley: Billy Nugent & Team Ready in Talkeetna

Hi all, today kicked off the official start of the second RMI Denali expedition of the 2013 season!  We spent the day dealing with the more unsavory and tedious parts of mountain climbing in our preparation for tomorrow’s flight into the range. Namely, we checked (and re-checked) gear, completed our orientation and permitting process with the NPS, and packed up and weighed all of our food and equipment for loading the planes.  We enjoyed a team dinner on what is hopefully our last evening in civilization.  The team is psyched, strong, and maybe a bit nervous but certainly ready to go - we just need the weather to cooperate tomorrow morning so we can get into Basecamp.

we’ll see…

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Glad the team finally made in to the glacier. Have a great journey!

Posted by: Kristan on 5/19/2013 at 3:30 pm

Mt. McKinley: Billy Nugent & Team Waiting Out the Storm in Talkeetna

Update 10:34 am PST
Billy called from Talkeetna to give us an update:  It is snowing in Talkeetna and the team will not be flying today.

Update from 5/16/13 at 11:00 pm PST
Checking in from a rainy Talkeetna… We woke up early this morning and headed over to the hangar after a quick breakfast at the Roadhouse hoping to finish up our last odds and ends and fly on to the glacier. While we were weighing the last of our luggage for the flight, the K2 staff told us the bad news: snowing at basecamp, flat light, and a low cloud ceiling. Translation: no go for us. So we hung out most of the day today eating food and worrying about what we forgot to pack while the rain gradually built up all day. Unfortunately, it’s not looking good for tomorrow either so we may have to organize a pingpong tournament in the hangar. Despite the crummy weather the team is in good spirits and looking forward to our big adventure. We’ll check in tomorrow, hopefully from Kahiltna Basecamp.

All for now,
RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Pete will kill you all in Ping Pong!  ;)

Posted by: Bennie on 5/17/2013 at 11:16 am

Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Have Another Day in Talkeetna

Woke up this morning to snow on the ground and sleet falling from the sky.  It turns out that this doesn’t make for the safest bush flights or glacier landings so we spent another day hanging out in Talkeetna.  We ate a lot of food, hung out some, practiced crevasse rescue, hung out some more, and some of us even drank a couple beers. Tomorrow is calling for more of the same but with a chance of partial clearing later in the day.  We have our fingers crossed…

More to come as our expedition gets off the ground,

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Fly on to the Kahiltna Glacier!

Hey everybody, checking in from the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier where we are settled into Basecamp after a day of exciting weather. We woke this morning in Talkeetna to a couple inches of new snow on the ground and thought it was going to be another day of waiting around for flyable weather. But when I checked in with K2 at 8:00 they said it was actually clear at Basecamp and that as soon as the snow showers in town stopped we’d potentially be on our way.

Well, the clouds broke around noon and our intrepid crew loaded up onto a pair of otters and headed for the Alaska Range. Clouds enroute nearly forced us to turn around but our pilots were able to make it happen and delivered us safely to the Southeast Fork. Some unfortunate planes were forced to turn around after the runway shutdown because of a bank of clouds that rolled in soon after our arrival. These folks eventually made it in later on in the evening when everything cleared up. The views here are breathtaking, if a little humbling.

Wish us luck as we head out on the route first thing tomorrow!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Mt. McKinley:  Nugent & Team “Walking the Pigs”

“Pigs” is the term of endearment climbers use to describe any heavy load on a climb.  On Denali our “pigs” are our sleds, and today we took them for their first walk.  The team woke to a bluebird day—welcome after the days of gray—learned about packing, strapping, and roping up our sleds, and then took them out on the trail from Basecamp to 7,600’.  Day one of “walking the pigs” can often be a porcine rodeo with lots of grappling and twisting going on, but this crew made it look more like walking poodles at the Westchester Dog Show.  We’re now at the base of Ski Hill, firing the skillet with fajitas, enjoying the stunning scenery up the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna, and getting ready for tomorrow’s push into steeper terrain—this crew is ready for it.

RMI Guide Kel Rossiter

On The Map

It looks amazing.  Good luck.  Go!

Posted by: Mike Hagan on 5/20/2013 at 4:54 pm

I have walked several pigs in my life but never thru snow.  Hope it is as fun as expected.  Looks very beautiful.  Work hard and have fun!

Posted by: Kristen on 5/20/2013 at 7:57 am

Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Establish Camp 2

Another beautiful day and another strong effort from our crew! We took advantage of more amazing weather and single-carried all of our gear and supplies up Ski Hill to set up shop at Camp 2, which sits at about 9,600’ on the upper reaches of the Kahiltna Glacier. Our guys clearly trained hard and the long hours on the stairmaster paid dividends today hauling massive loads. We rolled into camp around 4:30 which made for a leisurely afternoon getting situated and taking in the amazing views. After a hot dinner of tortellini alfredo, we all crawled into the tents and are currently waiting for the bitter cold to set in once the sun dips behind Kahiltna Dome.

That’s all for now, we’ll check in again tomorrow!

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Hey Craig, you seeing any good birds up there?

Posted by: Shelley on 5/22/2013 at 5:02 am

Mt. McKinley: Billy Nugent & Team Move to 11,000’

In the movie “Spinal Tap” there’s a comical part where the rock god explains to an interviewer that, whereas most amplifiers only go up to ten, his “goes to eleven” in case he’s really rocking out and “needs that extra push.”  Well, our strong team definitely needed no extra push in making it to 11K camp today.

After a calm night at 9600’ we woke to clear skies and prepared to “go to eleven.”  After caching some gear and food in a snow hole ( which we’ll pick up tomorrow) we enjoyed the feeling of dramatically lightened packs and sleds as we moved up.  Arriving in camp the team had its first experience with building a true Denali-style fortified camp.  Some people were shoveling, some were cutting blocks, some were carrying them:  everyone was working hard and in an hour or so we had a veritable Great Wall in place. Everyone enjoyed the upper body workout and the concrete results.  The sun sets late at 11K (it’s about 10pm now and still brilliant) and folks are settling in to a well-earned sleep.

Tomorrow will be a “half-rest” day: we’ll be making a three-hour trek to retrieve our cache, but without the work of breaking down and setting up camp we’ll be able to also rest and acclimatize.

RMI Guide Kel Rossiter

On The Map

Mt. McKinley: Billy Nugent and Team Build Walls

There’s a great German game show called “Stackenblocken” where contestants arrange objects on a desk at right angles. A judge then comes out with a framing square and a riding crop to punish the contestants who cannot make their desk “Stackenblocken”. Well, the weather has been so sunny and warm here at 11 camp that the wall surrounding our camp was indeed no longer “Stackenblocken” and in fact leaned to the point where it comically collapsed… Fortunately for us there was no judge with a jockey’s disposition and the blocks remained intact. We were actually able to rebuild it in a few quick minutes; turns out its not so hard on the second go around when all your materials are ready-made.

On another note, the team also spent a bit of the day retrieving our cached food and fuel from the 9,600’ camp. We made such short work of our back carry that it really felt like a rest day. Good times!

More about our intrepid crew as our adventure unfolds…

RMI Guide Billy Nugent

Wow, so beautiful, good luck all, have a great time. Can’t wait to see you all at the top. You go Bob very proud of you.

Posted by: Judy Blaisdell on 5/24/2013 at 10:44 am

Absolutely beautiful pics. Sky looks awesome. Good Luck to all. Peace be with you.

Posted by: Robbin Everitt on 5/23/2013 at 12:39 pm

Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team Carry to 13,600’

We woke today to a blend of blue and white swirls, but with more blue above and more white down low—And with our team still charging strong—we made the push to cache food and gear at 13,600’.  This trek takes us onto a different aspect of the mountain, with views over to the “Father and Sons Wall” and the glaciers to the west, which feed north to the Bering Strait.  Pushing upward to 13,000’ we could see the tops of Foraker (17,000’) and Crosson (12,000’) poking out above a thick sea of clouds around 11k—we were happy to be above it all.  After caching our gear we headed down (a much quicker trip!) and we’re now back at camp just as the sun has begun burning through the clouds—perfect timing!

RMI Guide Kel Rossiter

On The Map

go pete and the team!  barb and I are praying for you in this awesome adventure!

Posted by: mike tubbs on 5/25/2013 at 8:58 am

Happy birthday Pete!  I baked you a huge cake but I guess I’ll just eat it myself.  Hope the trek continues well!

Posted by: Dan bos on 5/25/2013 at 7:36 am

Mt. McKinley: Nugent & Team’s Hard Work Pays Off with a Reward

Billy here checking in from Camp IV at 14,200’ after a strong showing from our team on a big move up. We enjoyed mostly clear skies and incredibly strong sun on the way up from our previous camp at 11,000’. In fact, the sun was a little too strong; while the ambient temperature hovered in the teens we felt like we were boiling for the majority of our climb. It’s amazing what a little radiation can do. After all our hard work we were rewarded with an easy move-in to Mike Walter’s recently vacated camp. Sometimes you just get lucky. The high pressure is supposed to stick around through the extended forecast so we aim to keep on chipping away…


RMI Guide Billy Nugent

On The Map

Go Derek!! Myself and Jr are so proud of you!!mom and pop are praying for ye every day xxx

Posted by: Lisa oz on 5/25/2013 at 7:54 pm

I’m so proud!  Yall are gettin it done.

Posted by: Kristen on 5/25/2013 at 7:00 pm

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