Entries From McKinley W. Buttress 6-19-12

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Waiting at Basecamp

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | July 08, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

At 3:30 this morning I was startled awake by what I thought was the rumbling of a distant avalanche.  Perhaps my mountain senses have an automatic alertness to these deep thunderous roars that will pull me from the deepest sleep.  As I poked my head out of the tent door, I remembered where we are.

Two days ago I broke the news to the team that a serious storm was brewing and the risk of staying at high camp, in my opinion, outweighed the reward of a potential summit.  Going for the top on Monday or Tuesday would put our total time there at eight or nine days, well beyond anyone’s preference.  So we packed camp with heavy hearts and set off on our descent.

We moved efficiently down to eleven thousand feet where we rested for six hours.  The alarm went off at 5:00 am to no one’s delight and we headed toward basecamp at 7:30.  By 3:00 pm we were drinking MGD and relaxing in the sun.  K2 aviation was optimistic about flying us off so morale, all things considered, was high.  That was until one hour later the clouds moved in and it began to to snow.  That was more than 24 hours ago. 

Now as I write this at 4 pm on Sunday, we have received two feet of snow.  Welcome to Mt. McKinley!  We have all just come in for lunch after two solid hours stomping down the runway so if the storm does abate, planes might fly.  This is all we hope for now, the high pitch sound of propellers and don’t think twice about those avalanches in the distance. 

This is Adam Knoff signing out.

The airstrip at Kahiltna Basecamp

On The Map


Thnx to all for your comments & thoughts—it meant alot to us all up there.
Even though we didn’t summit, we all had an epic time—great guides, climbing buds… read more

Posted by: tim mclaughlin on 7/12/2012 at 6:20 pm

Tim, glad to hear you are all well.  Look forward to your return to Wenatchee.  Bart

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Posted by: Bart Miller on 7/12/2012 at 9:08 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Beat Feet to Basecamp

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | July 07, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,300'

Adam Knoff called into the office just before 6PM.  With a storm expected, the team was hoping to make it to basecamp in order to fly off in front of the storm. The weather didn’t quite hold and it began to snow in the last hour upon reaching basecamp.  The team’s plan to unwind in Talkeetna has been thwarted until further notice.

On The Map


Adam and team, was glad to read the posting that you were down to base camp.  Sorry your summit hopes didn’t work out this time.  Thanks for blogging and helping… read more

Posted by: Kris Bowditch on 7/9/2012 at 7:17 pm

I know you are probably pissed about your current situation, but I can’t wait for you to be back on the grid! I miss you and I… read more

Posted by: Erica on 7/8/2012 at 5:40 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Descend to 14K Camp

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | July 06, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley

This is Adam calling in from 17,000’ on Denali.  We woke this morning to continued snow and wind, with a major low pressure system forecast to dominate the region over the next several days.  We have endured this weather at high camp since Monday and have decided to descend back to 14K camp.  Even the approach route, between 14,000’ and basecamp, can be a bear to navigate in foul weather, and we need to stay strong and focused.  We’ll begin our descent of the West Buttress and the infamous fixed lines to reach Advanced Base at 14,200’ where Dave Hahn’s RMI party is encamped.  We’ll check in tomorrow and advise everyone of our plans and progress.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

Looking down to the 14,200 Camp

On The Map


John and crew,  Stay strong!  I am pulling for the weather to begin to work in your favor.  You have been so patient ....hang in there!  love, dee

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Posted by: Deann on 7/7/2012 at 11:46 am

Nelson, sympathy for Mother Nature at 17,000 camp.  I know you toughed out cold and wind, and I hope you can recharge and warm a bit at 14,000 camp.  I… read more

Posted by: Bill on 7/7/2012 at 9:10 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team As the Wind Blows

Posted by: Mike Uchal, Adam Knoff, Zeb Blais | July 05, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

This is the June 19th Denali Expedition welcoming you to the first episode, of the new hit saga, “As the Wind Blows.” Time flies when you’re having fun at 17,000 feet. We’re now going on our third full day at high camp. We’ve determined that the forecast provided by the National Park Service, is reliable as a politician in an election year. Despite the gale force winds and frigid temperatures, the team remains positive. We pass the time eating junk food and sharing iPods as our batteries last. Zeb and Adam ventured to 19,000 feet yesterday to check snow stability and rock conditions after high winds and snowfall. The avalanche danger a concern. They’ve deemed the route safe, which now leaves the ball in the court of Mother Nature. 17,000 feet is a harsh waiting room, which increases the longing for family, friends, and the creature comforts of our homes. We invite you to wait with us lower 48 as we pass the time here at 17K. Stay tune for the next episode of, “As the Wind Blows.”

RMI Guide Mike Uchal

RMI Guide Mike Uchal with the First Episode of As the Wind Blows

On The Map



You are an inspiration! I cannot wait to hear about your big adventure. I’m really proud of you. Take good care and I’ll see you later this year.


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Posted by: Katie Taylor on 7/6/2012 at 1:49 pm

We just found out what your doing this summer! We are following you everyday!
Be safe and strong! We are anxious for clear weather! I… read more

Posted by: Lori Kinsey on 7/6/2012 at 1:30 pm

Mt. McKinley Expedition: Knoff and Team at 17,000’ Waiting

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | July 04, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Greetings everyone!  This is Mike Uchal from the June 19th Denali Expedition with Adam Knoff, Zeb Blais, and team.  We are celebrating the 4th of July here at 17,000’ with fresh coffee and great group stories.  We are being proactive at fighting an impossible tent-bound fever with short jaunts outside and hot meals in our group tent, when the weather allows.  We’ll continue to play this now mental game as we continue to wait for our weather window for our summit attempt.  Please stay tuned Lower 48 and happy 4th of July to all of our friends and family from our team here at 17000’.  Good bye.

RMI Guide Mike Uchal


Enjoy your time on the mountain. I was in court today in Durham and all the Marshalls were asking about you.  Speaking of court—that’s where I’ll be… read more

Posted by: Stephanie on 7/5/2012 at 3:49 pm

Hi Uncle mike! It’s grace and sam. Boudro says hi! (mom says its Boudreaux but i dont like like that spelling) he’s very crazy! We miss you soooooooo much. Guess… read more

Posted by: Grace and Sam on 7/5/2012 at 2:22 pm

Mt. McKinley Expedition: Knoff and Team Check in from High Camp

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | July 03, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

This is RMI Guide Adam Knoff, checking in from high camp on Denali at 17,000’.  We had a sweet climb from 14,000’, up the fixed lines and along the crest of the West Buttress, eventually dropping into the basin where camp is placed.  What an absolutely spectacular day of climbing!  Unfortunately, the predicted nice weather did not materialize and in fact, has deteriorated.  Such is life on Denali, where all movement is dictated by weather.  We are securely entrenched in camp, with sturdy walls and a posh cook tent.  We have plenty of supplies, and now it becomes a waiting game.  We will keep you updated.

Looking down on 14,000 ft Camp on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map


Happy Independence Day!  Mike R we’re thinking of you all the time!  Hannah has an impressive ball collection waiting for you…

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Posted by: Susan on 7/4/2012 at 3:36 pm

Hey John, Happy 4th!!! Sorry you didn’t make the summit on the 4th, but the day is soon to come. Just got back from Maryland; very hot - it was… read more

Posted by: Jill on 7/4/2012 at 3:05 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team at High Camp

Posted by: Adam Knoff | July 02, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

Adam Knoff called in at 3:50 p.m. PT from the base of Washburn’s Thumb.  The team is on their move to 17K Camp to get into position for their summit bid. All is well and the weather is good.

On The Map


Hi Mike,  your almost to the submit.  You will make it to your goal and your dream.  I am so proud.  Can’t wait to see pictures and hear the stories. … read more

Posted by: mom on 7/4/2012 at 4:56 am

Here’s hoping that you guys have good weather for the summit push. I can’t wait to hear the stories and see your pictures!
Lots of love,read more

Posted by: Stephanie on 7/3/2012 at 7:05 pm

Mt. McKinley:  Knoff and Team Resting at 14,000’

Posted by: Adam Knoff | July 01, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Mt. McKinley has the gnarly reputation for being one of the hardest mountains in the world to reach the summit of.  In circles of armchair mountaineers, horror stories bounce around like cheap cigars.  What most people don’t realize is how much down time comes with living the dream of climbing north America’s highest peak.
Yesterday we put in our first “average work day” with an eight hour round trip climb to Washburn’s thumb at 16,500 feet.  We cached food, fuel and clothing needed for our time on the upper mountain.  This was our teams most difficult challenge to date which everyone handled like cagey veterans.
Back to the down time.  Of course the terrain on this mountain demands one’s full concentration, but so does our time of rest.  It is unnatural for all of us to try and sleep twelve hours a day with no darkness.  The rigors of rest should not be underestimated.  Today we woke from thirteen hours of hibernation and had a two hour breakfast demanding great effort to pull away from.  Now we are preparing for a stroll to the edge of the world and then home for more sleep.  Today is beautiful here at 14,000 feet, much more pleasant than our ten below nights.  All is well and we look forward to climbing higher.. 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

The view of the upper mountain from 14 Camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map


everybody eat a lot
DG Chris and Michael U eat a lot
John, Tim and Mike R you eat a lot.
Nelson, Adam and Blais eat a… read more

Posted by: shamu on 7/2/2012 at 6:59 pm

Nelson - So wonderful to hear your voice from nearly the top of North America! I will be thinking about you tomorrow as your group contemplates a summit bid. I… read more

Posted by: Jennifer on 7/2/2012 at 5:56 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Part 2 Saying Hello

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | June 29, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

We apologize to Mike and Nelson’s family’s for missing their hellos.  Here they are saying hi to their followers. 

Nelson: Mom, Dad, I’m having an absolute blast. I love it up here. Thank you so much for making this happen. I’m feeling great and getting excited for the imminent summit push. Tomorrow (weather permitting) we’ll get to the top of the fixed lines and up onto the famed West Buttress. Long story short, I’m having a great time. Thank you so much. To everyone else who I told to follow the blog (probably a good 3 people or so) this place is way sweet. Wicked fun. Big Rik—you need to get up here sometime, it’s fantastic. Lynn—of course I’m winning and writing lots. I’ll have plenty of stories for you all. It’s cold, fun, and badass. Love, Nels

Hi Susan, Mel, Hannah, family and friends!  Thanks to everyone for your posts.  Your thoughts mean so much. I’m having a great time, staying warm, and the guides make sure we eat very well.  After being snowed in today, we’ll hopefully move to high camp in the next few days where we stage our attempt for the summit.  Miss you all!  Love Mike



Been following the team’s progress—sounds like yet another awesome adventure! As promised—important news down here:  Colorado continues to burn, Obama-“care” passed, and basically Repub’s and Dem’s still hate each… read more

Posted by: Dan McLaughlin--aka, Little Bro on 7/1/2012 at 3:43 pm

Oz is on his way to Georgia with the Barteks!  I’m trying to stay out of the Raleigh heat—high today of 104!  Boone sounds way better with a… read more

Posted by: Stephanie on 7/1/2012 at 9:12 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Say Hello from 14K Camp

Posted by: Adam Knoff, Mike Uchal, Zeb Blais | June 29, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

This is the June 19th Denali expedition sending love from 14,000 foot camp.  We received a foot of fresh snow last night distracting us from our scheduled plan of carrying loads to the top of the fixed lines at 16,200 feet.  Because of this unexpected delay we are resting today fending off climbers soliciting food to lighten their loads for the descent. 
We have decided to pass the phone to let each team member send a personal hey to friends and family. 
This one goes out to my wife Birgen and son Liam.  I have only tried to spoon Uchal twice thinking of you.  He elbowed me both times.  I miss you as much as ever and can’ t wait to get home to you both…..
DG here. Miss and love you all. Doing great up here and everything is rock steady.  Hugs Oz and see you soon. Can’t wait for you to join me.
It’s Chris. Special thanks to all of you who posted messages and words of encouragement on the blog. It means a lot and gives me some extra fuel for the push up the peak. Nickie - I love you so much and can’t wait to see you again after a successful trip. Cheers!
This is Michael U. I hope all is well back home and abroad! I miss and love you all so much. O Sorry for leaving you to care for the new K-9. Grace, HB, Samer, Charlotte, Lulu, and the rest of the family - I can’t wait to see you when I get home.
Greetings from JJ, amazing group of guys, amazing mounting and truly an experience of a lifetime to be here.  Priorities change when life is stripped to the essentials. Peace, joy and love of friends and family take in a new and heightened priority. Please know I am very safe and that my love for you is growing with each step.  I miss you all and have many big hugs in store for all upon my return, especially the new love of my life.  See you at the wedding if not sooner.  Love, John
Hello fam & friends—Tim here. It’s hard to explain what the top of our continent looks like—truly amazing! Thx for all of your posts, luv sharing them in the “posh”  (a funky community eating/gathering area). Great guides & climbing team, we’re all looking up at the top now.
Love & miss you all—literally dreaming of you nightly—altitude makes for some strange dreams BTW.
Thx for covering me during cherry harvest & all the other “stuff.”  See you in a couple of weeks!!!



On The Map


John, Great to hear all of you are doing fine. We are just home from the “small hills of NC”  As we go along in life we do learn more… read more

Posted by: Jackie Winchell on 7/1/2012 at 8:39 pm

What no news fro you Nelson?? I know that you are having a trip of a lifetime. Check in next time the phone goes around. The moms in KC (that… read more

Posted by: Jennifer Collet on 6/30/2012 at 4:40 am

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