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July 11, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team’s Expedition Comes to an End

Wow! The close to expeditions happen so quickly.  After spending two weeks working our way into position, and then waiting for our summit window, the descent flew by.  After a day of waiting for winds to die to leave 17k, we left camp in much more moderate winds, but with moderate snowfall added to the mix.  The group did a great job of working down the exposed sections of the West Buttress and down the fixed lines to 14k.  We ran into Dave Hahn’s group there, and traded stories while sorting and organizing our cache, and then continued on our way down to 11k for the evening.  Once again the weather moved in, and we arrived at 11k with a chilly wind and snowfall.  We set a hasty camp, dug our cache, and ate a hot dinner, before heading to bed.  With snow in the forecast for the next day, and hoping to have some visibility, we opted to wake in the dawn hours of morning.  The day turned out to be perfectly clear and calm, and we walked out under warming conditions, arriving at Basecamp just in time to see five K2 airplanes land to take out 24 climbers that had been waiting to leave for several days.  We were next in line, but spent the day on standby, as K2 launched plane after plane to come get us, only to have to turn around due to clouds and obscured visibility in the passes that allow access to the Alaska Range.  Finally, at 8 pm, we got word that the last flight for that evening had turned around and that we would spend another night on the glacier.  We set a hasty camp, and cooked up a big dinner out of all of the tasty looking ingredients we could pull from our remaining meals.  The next morning dawned clear, calm, and warm, but again, clouds hung in the passes, preventing planes from making it to us, until later in the afternoon.  Finally, we had planes on the runway, but the pilots hurried us along, saying it wasn’t going to last, and sure enough, as we headed out, pass after pass had shutdown with big white banks of clouds.  As we rounded the corner of the Pica Glacier towards Pica Pass, we say the hole we needed and scooted through, with gray rock and white glaciers giving way suddenly to bright green forest and bog lands.  Landing in Talkeetna is always a shock to the senses, as smells of grass, trees, pavement, jet fuel, and everything else come flooding in.  We stepped off of the planes Tuesday evening to a warm, bright, scented scene, excited to be off the glacier, and gratitude to K2 for trying so hard to get us off. 

This trip brought together seven climbers who previously had never met to attempt and test themselves on the tallest peak in North America.  The group did an amazing job quickly coalescing into a very functional team.  We moved over the mountain efficiently (critical for the weather we would see in the second half of the trip), set camp quickly and solidly, and everyone supported everyone else.  It was a pleasure for the three of us guides to work with the group, and their dedication showed as the conditions became more challenging, and everyone persevered despite. 

Thanks for tuning in and watching our adventure progress. Until next time,

RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Geoff Schellens, Robby Young, and team signing out!

July 8, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Descend to 11,000’

Sunday, July 7, 2013
We are down in the thick air of 11k feet! We woke this morning to some snowfall, and generally wintry conditions, but nothing that we couldn’t deal with, and in short order we had camp packed and were rolling down the buttress. We made a short stop at 14 to visit with Dave Hahn’s team ( who were gracious enough to invite is into their posh and make us hot water) and pick up our cache. Another few hours brought us to the 11k camp, where we made our beds for the night. We plan to wake early and continue our descent down the Kahiltna, with the aim of being at the airstrip by mid morning! With luck, there will be a break in the clouds, and we will see the red planes of K2 dropping in to bring us back to Talkeetna! We’ll let you know how that goes, but for now, it’s early to bed for us!

RMI Guides Pete, Geoff, Robby, and team

On The Map

Hi team: My stepson is with Dave Hahn on the way up, and I’ve been reading your team’s posts also. Hope you got down, and got to fly out.

Posted by: Vicki on 7/10/2013 at 3:25 pm

Hola Guapo,
Viola just called me to tell me you were stuck” IN a glacier?”  I HOPE NOT!....I’m hoping you meant : “stuck ON the glacier i.e.:mountain”.  Did you forget our home number?
You have nothing scheduled at the office until the 22nd. Viola wanted me to let you know that. She said you would be home Thursday How is this possible?
Are you planing to take me away?...Far…....Far…...away? I hope so! If you can’t…make sure you pick up a box of Calgon at the supermercado before you come home! (Calgon take me way!!)

Posted by: marion and maya on 7/9/2013 at 4:09 pm

July 7, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt.McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Wait Out the Winds

Saturday, July 6, 2013
It was a beautiful though somewhat blustery summit day yesterday and everyone did great! We woke this morning with the intention of moving downhill, but as we prepared, several other groups returned reporting high winds along the buttress. After assessing, we decided that it would behoove us to rest the day and recover from yesterday, and move down tomorrow in lesser winds. So we’ll be in touch tomorrow, hopefully from significantly lower on the mountain! All for now,

RMI Guides Pete, Geoff, Robby, and team

On The Map

Hello Guapo,
Everyone is asking me how long the trip down is, but I honestly don’t remember.
On the 9th it will be three weeks…..seems like forever.
Looking forward to hearing all about it…everyone is!
We are all proud! Im glad you are resting and recovering.
Mairon ad Maya

Posted by: marion and maya on 7/7/2013 at 3:54 pm

Good morning, Tommy! I am grateful you are well and resting. I miss you, but I am happy ya’ll are using caution as you come down. More than anything, I can’t wait to hear your voice! There was lots of excitement on Facebook once everyone learned of your success reaching the top. I can’t wait for you to read the posts and the messages and “likes” of those following you. I posted a special message to you on Facebook from me and your supporters today. To say I am proud seems like an understatement because I am so much more. I am humbled by your courage, strengthened by your strength, and inspired by your passion. We have such an incredible future ahead. Thank you for showing me what is possible. I pray for an awesome day and safety coming down. My love and thoughts are with you going down as they were going up. I am so excited thinking how close you are to coming home! I love you!

Posted by: Rhonda Kitchen on 7/7/2013 at 8:21 am

July 6, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Summit!

Saturday, July 6th, 2013 1:39 a.m. PST
Hi all. This is Pete, Geoff, Robby and team from Mt. McKinley.  We are happy to report that we stood on top of North America today!  Had our weather window show up and went for it. The whole team stood on top.  It was a little bit blustery, but everybody did a great job.  We were on top about 6:30 this evening.  Now we are all back at 17K Camp safe and sound enjoying a Ramen dinner and getting ready to sack out before we start looking at moving down the mountain tomorrow. So hope everybody is well and glad to be able to give good news. Will talk later, bye.

RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer

RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer calls in after summit success!

On The Map

Derek, Congrats on your climb! I’m in North Pole AK and have been looking at the mountain from the fire. ICP is at elem. school stop by if possible.
Stay Safe,

Posted by: Kim Lemke on 7/10/2013 at 2:20 pm

Way to go!!! Can’t wait to hear the tales, Wy.  What an awesome accomplishment.  It’s almost like being able to say, “I walked on the moon!” :)  Love you!

Posted by: Donna Evenson on 7/7/2013 at 9:01 pm

July 4, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Rest at 17 Camp

Thursday, July 4, 2013
Whulp, the weather gods didn’t smile on us today. We went to bed under clear, calm skies, and high hopes for today, but when we awoke, it was to snow, blowing snow, and wind, and next to no visibility. It wasn’t a hard choice to sit tight in camp today, rest up, and hope that the next few days bring our chance! Everybody is in high spirits, albeit ancy and ready to go. Hopefully we’ll check in tomorrow or Saturday from the top! Happy Fourth of July to everybody out there.

RMI Guides Pete, Geoff, Robby, and team

On The Map

Hats off to you all….it’s been a blast following this trek and moments where we wish we could be there with you b/c VERY hot here in upstate NY…travel mercies on the descent. Gil:I’ve been keeping Chandler in line. ~(:)

Posted by: Dana Holly Troy on 7/7/2013 at 8:16 am

Hola Guapo,
I have to assume you are summiting since there has been no news for two days!
We are munching nervously on the rest of your Kit Kat bars…..“oh my goodness!”
Forest Gump would say: “Run Guapo Ruuuun”!
Can’t wait to hear!
Lots Love!!

Posted by: marion and maya on 7/6/2013 at 7:13 am

July 4, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Move to 17,000’!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Hello all from 17 thousand feet! We made our move today through a whole mix of weather, though overall, it was a really pleasant day on the West Buttress. We left later than most groups, waiting to have some sun and warmth before we launched. As luck would have it we missed all the crowds on the fixed lines, and cruised to our cache at the base of Washburns Thumb. With our cache on board, it was one more mellow stretch, and we were rolling into camp at the perfect hour. A big dinner and hot drinks, and now we’re tucking in for the night, hoping to wake up and see our summit day tomorrow! Keep your fingers crossed for good weather! Best from here,

RMI Guides Pete, Geoff, Robby, and team

On The Map

Derek - I hope you and the team are safe and will finally make summit in honor of the 4th of July!! 
Love, Aunt Rita

Posted by: Rita DeCamp on 7/4/2013 at 4:02 pm

So excited for you to reach the summit!
We are roasting to death in this humidity…you are far better off there!
I told you that you could make it to the top!
We can’t wait to hear all about it!
Lots Love and hugs
Guapa and Duckie

Posted by: marion and maya on 7/4/2013 at 2:37 pm

July 2, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Start toward 17, Then Return

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
We had a little bit of a false start here this morning. We woke at 5.30 to clear conditions, and lower winds up above. Altogether, it was a great looking scene, albeit cold; the coldest temps we have seen all trip. We ate a hasty breakfast, and packed camp to move to 17,000’. As we started to walk, clouds began to build, and the winds on the Buttress were rising too. At the base of the fixed lines, we decided that today wasn’t the day to make our move, and we retreated back to 14,200’ to reset camp. A day like today is tough, but we made the right decision, and everyone is in good spirits. We’re hoping that tomorrow morning provides a better opportunity!

Until then, best from Alaska.
RMI Guides Pete, Geoff, Robby, and team

On The Map

sorry to hear you didn’t get to 17,000 today, but it makes me comfortable knowing that your team guides care about your welfare and safety,and won’t take unnecessary risks.
Best of luck tomorrow,rest well

Posted by: marion and maya on 7/3/2013 at 10:22 pm

Hey Gail good to hear you guys are getting some exercise up there…I was beginning to worry you were getting lazy.  Ha…kidding of course!  Sounds like yesterday was a long one, but great to hear everyone is doing well and best of luck for a break in the weather.  Happy early 4th of July, stay safe, have fun!! -Becky

Posted by: Becky on 7/3/2013 at 2:06 pm

July 1, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Rest at 14,000’ Camp

One can call it a rest day, or weather day depending on perspective, but we took the opportunity of winds up high and snow, to rest up our legs for another day at 14,000’ on Mt. McKinley. It hasn’t been too bad here, with sporadic gusts of wind, some snow falling from the sky, and most snow just blowing around the ground. Our walls are doing their job, and nobody was complaining about a day of sport eating in the tents, getting our reserves up for the big push. We’d love to see this weather move out and give us our chance, as we are all ready, but with no control over that, we’re going to patiently watch and wait. We’ll let you know what happens tomorrow: we may still be sitting here, or we may be up at 17, getting ready for a summit bid! Send positive weather vibes our way! Best from the mountain,

RMI Guides Pete, Geoff, Robby, and team

On The Map

Sending much aloha and sunshiny vibes from Maui!  Sport eating doesn’t sound too bad, especially as you get ready for the big push.  Go, Gail, goooooooo!
Jen Fordyce

Posted by: Jen Fordyce on 7/2/2013 at 2:34 pm

Good morning, Tommy! I hope you rested well last night and you woke to clear skies. I am praying for a great weather day to move up to High Camp. I miss you! Have an awesome day! Love always!

Posted by: Rhonda Kitchen on 7/2/2013 at 11:09 am

July 1, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Take a Rest Day

Sunday, June 30, 2013
What a perfect day for a rest day! The day dawned calm, but with frequent clouds blotting out the sun. We had a nice, leisurely breakfast, with lots of story telling, chatting, and coffee, and a great afternoon siesta. Then, right on que, the winds and snow that were forecasted to start, rolled into camp. All the work on our snow walls paid off, and we are happily sitting in our protected tents, listening to the freight train roar on the buttress above. It wouldn’t be Alaska without some weather, and we are happy to be sitting at 14k rather than 17k! With all our preparations made, we’ll sit here and patiently wait this out until the mountain and weather say it’s our turn to go.

Best from here,

RMI Guides Pete, Geoff, Robby, and crew

On The Map

Wyatt, We all hope the weather improves soon, it finally stopped raining here so the lake will be warm when you get home.  Can’t wait for all your stories!  Miss you son,  Mom and Dad

Posted by: Marian Evenson on 7/1/2013 at 3:27 pm

Derek and Team:  My thoughts, prayers, and best wishes are with you and all of your team members as you prepare to make the final push to the summit.  Everyone must be so eager to finally reach the top.  It’s been great being able to follow your progress up to this point and a waking hour hasn’t past where I don’t think about you up there on that mountain.  Stay strong, focused, and most of all safe.  Good Luck!! -  Pops

Posted by: Pops on 7/1/2013 at 2:41 pm

June 30, 2013

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Van Deventer & Team Cache Gear at Washburn’s Thumb

Sunday, June 30th, 2013
After spending some time resting and recuperating at 14K Camp, we jumped on the tiger today, aka the fixed lines, and climbed to 16,700’ to cache gear and food at Washburn’s Thumb. The steep and often exposed climbing was some of first of the expedition, and the team performed exceptionally. The hard work of the day was rewarded with a team favorite meal consisting of Annie’s Mac and Cheese with bacon. Tomorrow will be spent resting back in the comfort of 14K Camp while we wait on a favorable weather forecast to begin our final move up to Denali’s high camp. 

RMI Guides Robby, Pete, Geoff and Team

On The Map

Hi Tommy, I hope you are awesome today! For every day that passes, I miss you more than the day before! Not being able to talk to you is the hardest part. I have started talking to you in letters, though, and since I have no place to send them, you’ll have quite a few to read when you get home. This has made me remember when we wrote letters many years ago. Sara and Brandon send their love! They are great! I saw Brandon briefly yesterday. He came by to get his golf clubs to hit balls at the driving range with his friends. I can’t wait for all of us to be sitting down to dinner together again. I’m happy to hear that everything is progressing on schedule. It sounds like the team is working well together.  Everyone here is getting excited for summit day. I’m sure you and the team even more so. I am praying for strength and focus as the challenge of the ascent to the top becomes more difficult. My love and thoughts are always with you.

Posted by: Rhonda Kitchen on 6/30/2013 at 2:33 pm

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