Entries By alex halliday
May 23, 2019
Thursday, May 23, 2019 9:31 am PT
We had a good, long day of climbing on the West Buttress yesterday, pushing all the way the 17,200’ camp with our cache.
The day started early and cold as we fired up our stoves hours before the sun was on our tents. After an efficient breakfast of granola and hot drinks, we prepared for our day of climbing. Except the mountain had different plans for our early start: a lenticular cloud cap had formed, indicating high winds. Plumes of blowing snow were visible from the summit down to the top of the fixed ropes (16,200’). So we pumped the breaks, stayed warm in our tents, and watched the weather unfold. Finally the winds seemed to abate and we left camp at 10:15. We encountered good climbing conditions and perfectly cool temperatures as we ascended out of camp and then up the fixed ropes. The lower part of the West Buttress was equally enjoyable. Once we topped Washburn’s Thumb, around 17,000’ we were met with 15-20 mph winds. Those wind speeds are generally not that alarming for mountain climbers, but at this altitude and the cold temps of Denali it made the climbing cold and more challenging.
Six hours after leaving camp we arrived at the 17,200’ camp where we spent and hour and a half digging a cache hole, sorting gear, and breathing the rare air of altitude. The descent back to camp took us three hours, so vestibule to vestibule we had a 10 1/2 hour day—good training for summit day!
Today we are resting and I am about to fire the stoves for breakfast—this time a more leisurely affair with smoked salmon and cream cheese on toasted bagels, a true luxury at 14,200’ on Denali.
The weather forecast is calling for a strong storm through the weekend. We’ll watch how that develops, and hopefully get a weather window for an unmitigated bid early next week. But for now we will rest and fortify camp in anticipation of the weekend’s storm.
On The Map
That’s a huge day! Hope everyone rested today and the coming weather isn’t too rough for you all.
Sending stamina and good cheer from Tom’s family in Vancouver, BC!
Posted by: Patty Ripley on 5/23/2019 at 9:33 pm
Wow! Sounds like yesterday was a successful and long day! And hopefully today was a relaxing quiet day enjoying the mountain and team!
This weekend sounds like a “hunkered down” weekend weathering a big storm. Yikes! Be safe and stay warm!
Big hugs to Tom M from family in Larkspur!
Posted by: Susan Mulvey on 5/23/2019 at 8:25 pm
May 21, 2019
Monday, May 21, 2019 4:43 pm PT
We’re taking another planned rest day today in order to get strong and acclimate for our forays up higher. As it turns out, the forecast for high winds came to fruition and we would not have been able to climb higher today even if we had wanted to. Instead, we had another leisurely brunch and worked on fortifying camp with more snow walls. We also practiced fixed line travel for moving above here. Steve Gately’s crew (RMI Denali 2) just rolled into camp, so we’re gonna go welcome them with some water. We hope the weather will let us put a cache up high tomorrow and then return back down to our current camp at 14,200’. We’ll let you know how it goes.
RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team
On The Map
Good luck to the team and Tom Mulvey! May you find favorable weather.
Posted by: Jerry Suyderhoud on 5/22/2019 at 7:15 pm
Good luck Kelby and the rest of the team. I am also praying for clear weather and calm winds for y’all.
Posted by: Rusty Dossett on 5/22/2019 at 6:21 am
May 20, 2019
Monday, May 20, 2019 5:40 pm PT
We slept in a little bit this morning, enjoying our first full rest day. The weather was cloudy with light snow and strong ridge top winds—perfect for a rest day!
We had an extended brunch with substantial portions of hashbrowns, bacon, egg, and cheese burritos, and plenty of coffee of course.
Other than eating and resting, our team rallied a work party this afternoon to start building walls around our camp to protect from any potential winds.
The weather forecast calls for sunny weather with strong ridge top winds tomorrow, decreasing by Wednesday. Right now the plan is to rest again tomorrow as our bodies get used to living at high altitude. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a cache up high on Wednesday.
Appreciate the updates and photos from Denali. Sure hope the weather cooperates for more climbing tomorrow. Glad they have an excellent contractor to help build snow walls around the camp. Hope you are keeping warm up there, Tom!
Posted by: Susan Royce on 5/21/2019 at 11:23 am
Great newsy updates! Sounds like this year’s climb is going well. Hope your rest day and snow walls prove successful! Good luck with the winds!
We are all thinking of you, Tom M, and hoping your new gear is keeping you safe!
Posted by: Susan Mulvey on 5/21/2019 at 10:55 am
May 19, 2019
We woke from our first day at 14,000’ camp to beautifully clear skies and stunning views of the West Buttress to our north and the rest of the Alaska Range to our south, punctuated by the other two massive peaks in the range, Mt. Hunter & Foraker.
After a modest breakfast of granola and hot drinks, we headed back down hill to retrieve our cache, just shy of Windy Corner. That trip involved just over an hour of moving, so we’re enjoying lots of rest the rest of the day. Besides resting, eating, and hydrating, were doing some chores around camp, like improving our kitchen/eating tent by digging it deeper and wider and buffing out the seating.
We have a rest day planned for tomorrow. That usually means sleeping in and some form of bacon and eggs breakfast burritos for an extended brunch. We’ll touch base again tomorrow.
On The Map
Go Tom Mulvey from San Rafael Rotary! May the weather favor you the rest of the way too! You deserve an easy one this time.
Posted by: Paul Claeyssens on 5/20/2019 at 12:55 pm
The cream of the crop will rise to the top
Posted by: Chris Torney on 5/19/2019 at 9:39 pm
May 18, 2019
We woke early to perfect weather this morning and decided we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to move camp up to 14,200’ in Genet Basin. The weather remained great for us all day, with some clouds building mid morning and a few scattered snow flurries, but no wind to speak of. Laden with heavy packs, we made slow and steady progress and after about six hours we arrived at camp. It’s been a few hours now and camp is up, the climbers are resting in their tents, and stoves are cranking melting snow for water bottles and heating water for dinner.
Tomorrow we will head back down to Windy Corner to retrieve our cache. That will be a short day and we’re happy for that. We’re also looking forward to our first complete rest day the following day (Monday). It’s time to lick our wounds, rest, and acclimate.
14k camp life!!!!! Woooot, give’r boyz, oh yeahhhhh!
Posted by: Brid on 5/19/2019 at 9:31 pm
Sounds like your progress is good as compared to last year! Enjoy the remainder of the climb, Tom M! Greetings to you from all the Mulvey-Temples ..... from the Oregon coast!
Continue to remain safe and enjoy!
Posted by: Susan Mulvey on 5/19/2019 at 1:35 pm
May 17, 2019
We’re on a roll now with another great day today. We woke to clear skies with a cloud deck slightly below our camp. There was some blowing snow visible up towards our destination, Windy Corner. So to drag our feet a bit and let it warm up and see what the winds were going to do we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of toasted bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon—not bad for breakfast at 11,200’ on Denali.
The sun eventually hit our camp and the winds abated. So we followed suit and finished packing up, donned our crampons and off we went. We were loaded down with food and fuel in our backpacks, intent on establishing a cache around Windy Corner. The first obstacle out of camp was climbing Motorcycle Hill, which took us 45 minutes to climb. Next we climbed Squirrel Hill and crossed the Polo Fields. Before we knew it we rounded Windy Corner and arrived at our cache site at 13,600’. We dug a deep hole in the snow, buried our gear, then headed back to camp. We were psyched to see the second RMI Denali team, led by Steve Gately, building camp next to ours here at 11,000’.
The next stage of the game for us is to move camp to 14,000’. We’ll see what the weather does and that will influence whether we try to move tomorrow or take a rest day.
On The Map
May 16, 2019
After three consecutive days of hard work, we had a lighter day today. But it wasn’t all rest; we had work to do, to go back down to 10,000’, dig up our cache, and haul it in sleds and backpacks back to our camp at 11,200’. It wasn’t easy work, but compared to the last three days it sure felt that way.
The snow conditions were excellent for travel on snowshoes and the temps were enjoyable. Intermittent clouds and light snow showers added to the great day. By the time we made it back to camp it was snowing a bit harder, but with no wind it didn’t really bother us too much.
This afternoon we are resting, eating and drinking, and preparing gear and supplies for our next cache, which will be up around Windy Corner at about 13,600’. If the weather is good, that might happen tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted.
On The Map
Thank you for all the great updates and pictures, Mike! So happy to hear you all are making some good progress and the weather is cooperating.
Tom M, we all are thinking of you and hope your fingers and nose are happy this year!
Posted by: Susan Mulvey on 5/17/2019 at 8:23 am
I’ve been away from internet/cellular coverage for several days but finally I’ve been able to read up on your progress.
So good to hear you’re now well on your way after the initial delay and a couple of false starts -although still fun to catch a flight or 3. Loved the video from the May 10 flight –Hi Tom M xoxo
Here’s hoping the weather continues to cooperate so the team can continue with more of the awesome progress made over the last few days. Mike, thanks so much for the updates –much appreciated.
Best wishes to all. Stay strong, stay safe and enjoy the adventure!!
Go Team Walter!!
Posted by: Jacquie Byatt on 5/16/2019 at 9:38 pm
May 15, 2019
Our team had another big day today. We rose early, ate breakfast, and proceeded to break down our camp. We moved from our camp at the Base of Ski Hill (7,800’) to 11,200’, a big day indeed. When we got here the real work started though: building camp, setting up tents, the kitchen and the bathroom, and the arduous task of melting snow for water and then cooking dinner. We’re currently in the melting snow for water stage and we arrived in camp over four hours ago. There’s still a lot to get done tonight. Tomorrow we’ll go back down to 10,000’ to retrieve our cache. Til then…
On The Map
May 14, 2019
The weather seems to have changed its tune as of late and is cooperating with us nicely. Today was mostly cloudy with an occasion light snow shower and a light breeze. It was perfect for climbing up Ski Hill and continuing up the Kahiltna to 10,000’ where we made a cache of food and fuel and gear. The glacier is in excellent condition and the traveling was smooth. Our team all did well today and we’re now in position to move camp to 11,200’, hopefully tomorrow.
We’ll let you know what shakes out,
On The Map
It’s so exciting following your adventure! Wishing you all safety and success.
Posted by: Mary Beth on 5/15/2019 at 6:15 pm
May 14, 2019
Three times is a charm, I guess. On our third flight trying to get to Basecamp over the past few days, we had good clear skies and smooth sailing and finally made it in. After a few hours of repacking our gear, rigging our sleds, and digging a cache hole, we set off for our first camp at the Base of Ski Hill. The Kahiltna Glacier was in great condition and the weather was nearly ideal; mostly cloudy with the occasional snow shower - which kept temperatures from getting too hot. We made it to camp with full packs and sleds in tow in just under six hours. Today we’ll carry a cache of supplies up a couple thousand feet and then return to camp. We’ll keep you posted.
On The Map
Good luck to everyone!
Posted by: Richard Kalish on 5/14/2019 at 9:03 am