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Entries By andy hildebrand

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Headed Home

June 7, 2015, 4:47 pm PT

It is difficult to find a place to begin the final dispatch of our group’s grand adventure.  No mountain climbing objective quite compares to the raw and unprecedented challenge of Denali.  Having been here nine times before, the burrito of emotions ranging from excitement and joy to anxiety and fear all get rolled into one and when the plane takes off and you go past the point of no return, managing all these feelings becomes more than half the battle.  I have seen this mountain crack the hardest of nuts.  Climbers who have summitted 8000 meter peaks routinely come here and say it is the hardest mountain they have ever attempted.  In the broad scope of mountaineering landscapes, “The High One” stands alone, both on the tundra and in our lives.

With this said, no one is prouder of the group than I am.  Two days ago we began our march from 14,000 feet down into the unknown.  With wind gusts strong enough to make walking feel like a mosh pit and snow conditions making hide-and-go-seek with crevasses a heart-pounding game, we honestly didn’t know what the next hour, let alone day, would bring.  After a brief visit at 11,000 feet we kept going into the ginormous ping pong ball navigating only with GPS.  At 9,000 feet we had to stop.  This sort of challenge became par for the course.  Yesterday morning, despite the feet of new snow, everyone’s energy, motivation and attitude never wavered.  Four hours after leaving camp we were at the air strip and 45 minutes after arriving we were on a plane back to civilization.  We fly into Denali as someone and we fly off of Denali as someone else.  I have been changed by the mountain many times.  Very rarely has a group such as this had a profound influence on that change.  It was an honor to lead you all.

Thanks again to Nick and Andy for being such hard working and trustworthy partners on the guiding front.  You both rock! 

Thanks also to those who followed along.  The stories of what happens the night you return to food and drink will have to be shared in person. 
Until the next adventure.  Keep climbing. 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Thanks to Adam and the other guides for a safe ascent and return. You did an amazing job with the group and we are proud of the whole team. The weather sounded tough but you all were more tough! Safe travels to your home ports and wishing you all well again!!

Posted by: Connie Whitley on 6/8/2015 at 8:17 am

So very proud of each member of the team and the guides for support and tenacity that must.have permeated your very beings to make this such a successful journey up and down the mighty Mt McKinley.  Will, so looking forward to hearing all of the details, congratulations.  Well done. XOXOXO

Posted by: Carolyn on 6/8/2015 at 6:19 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff and Team Blaze Trail to Base Camp

June 6, 2015 9:15am PST

RMI Guide Adam Knoff just called into the RMI office and gave us an update.  The team is at 9,000’ camp and heading toward the air strip.

They woke up yesterday and made the decision to head down to 11,000’ camp.  In high winds and blowing snow they headed down and after 2.5 hours they were greeted with smiles and hots from RMI Guide Tyler Jones and team at camp.  The team took a bit of a rest, packed it up and pointed their boots downhill. They then traveled through deep snow, whiteout conditions and with some help from the GPS they reached 9,000’, where they rested for the night. The Sun came out this morning and the team was all smiles!  The team is packed and ready to blaze the five miles of trail in knee deep snow toward Base Camp, where with some luck they will fly off the glacier this evening or by the afternoon on Sunday.

Special request from Adam: “WISH US LUCK!”

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good luck!!  You all have worked hard and are almost home from an incredible experience. Keep on keepin’ on…you’ll be there soon!

Posted by: Carrie, Brook, Finn and Reid on 6/7/2015 at 10:32 am

Way to go Team Knoff.  Warm beds and showers await Mark and Bob in Anchorage.
Great accomplishment!

Posted by: Wayne and Barb Pichon on 6/6/2015 at 2:53 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff and Team Continue to Wait out Storm

June 4, 2015 3:05pm PST

One of the most famous books of Mt. McKinley lore is of the first winter ascent and it’s title is Minus 148.  Yes this refers to the calculated wind chill factor the climbers experienced while stuck in a storm at 18,000’ feet in the middle of February.  While we sit here waiting out this storm which we have been racing for six days, the cold accompanying the snow is bone chilling. Last night after the sun went behind the ridge, we all guessed the evening temp here in camp at 14,000’ feet was a balmy minus 15 degrees.  Add in the 15 mph breeze and the wind chill here was a cool minus 35!  Up at high camp where we just came from, where teams still sit waiting for a summit chance, the air temp was a frigid minus 25 with 40 mph winds.  This means the wind chill was roughly minus 50.  At these temps skin freezes in seconds and the body can hardly consume enough calories to stay warm without shelter. The morale of the team is really high knowing the high altitude work is done. As I write this on June 4th, the description of June 3rd is identical.  Drink coffee, eat lots of food, take a nap, eat more food, have dinner and go to bed.  The need to hang outside in the freezing temps is not what anyone needs. 

As the storm moves through, we are hoping to get this show on the road and move to base camp where planes can pick us up as soon as the weather breaks. Cross your fingers for an opening by Sunday.  We will touch base tomorrow. 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Comgratulations on your amazing climb! Thinking of the team every day. Stay strong and safe on your descent.

Posted by: Elaine on 6/6/2015 at 8:51 am

Hang in there Knoff and Team!  Waiting at base camp to fly home is trying.  Stay warm, have fun, throw lots of snowballs at the other teams (Especially Chad’s AAI team, Greg!) and be ready to go.  Hoping you hear the planes any time now!  Home soon!

Posted by: Kerry on 6/5/2015 at 11:01 pm

Mt. McKinley Expedition: Knoff & Team Start Long Descent

June 3, 2015 - 10:10 am PT

Yesterday proved to be a bit bitter sweet for all of us.  Despite having the almost euphoric sense of accomplishment for summiting Mt. McKinley, the work left to be done is astounding.  Many people may think that when the top is reached it is all downhill from there.  In a literal sense that is true, in the big picture that is like saying once you plant a garden food will just appear on your plate. 
Nothing is easy at 17,000’, especially motivating to pack up the entire camp after only getting six hours of restless sleep coming on the heels of what most of the team considered the hardest summit day they have ever experienced.  But as always they impressed me with there drive, attitude and willingness to do what needed to be done.  That fact right there is why they all succeeded in this climb. 
So after camp was broken, the long tricky climb back down Washburn’s ridge began.  After those obstacles were over we then needed to descend the fixed lines, stomp down the remaining slopes to camp, dig up the cache and then rebuild a new camp.  All while being sleep deprived, hungry, thirsty and utterly exhausted.  On top of all that, it is supposed to snow two feet by tomorrow.  Ahh, the true colors of this mountain are being revealed. 
We will keep you posted on our progress. 
Liam, daddy is on his way home soon.  I can’t wait to see you! 

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Congrats Shannon !!!! Awesome Job!!!!!

Posted by: Tony on 6/4/2015 at 12:48 pm

Congrats Greg!  You’re probably already down and on your way home.  No where?  I would hope somewhere hot!

Posted by: Rick & Tracy on 6/4/2015 at 9:06 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Summit!

Tuesday, June 2nd 11:23 am PDT

Hello, this is Adam Knoff reporting from high camp on Mount McKinley. I am happy to report that the entire team summitted Mount McKinley yesterday. It was an exciting day in the morning. We were anticipating moving back down to 14K camp to wait out a pending storm that is supposed to arrive this evening. But instead we were granted a weather window in the afternoon that allowed us to go for the summit and achieve the summit. Everyone did great and this morning we are exhausted but happy that the sun is out. We are packing up camp, high camp, and will be moving down to 14K, where we will potentially be waiting out the storm that it supposed to hit us tonight. Stay tuned for more tomorrow. Thank you. Bye.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

RMI Guide Adam Knoff calling from high camp after successful summit!

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

YAY TEAM!  Congratulations Chevy!!!  We can’t wait to hear the stories!

Posted by: Wells Fitness Staff on 6/5/2015 at 12:35 pm

Way to go Will——very proud of you my Brother!

Posted by: Darryl Schimeck on 6/3/2015 at 9:15 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team at High Camp Prepping for Summit Bid

Sunday, May 31st 9:38pm PDT

Hi there. This is Adam Knoff calling from High Camp on Mount McKinley. I would like to report that we had a very successful and warm rest day today. We practiced putting on all of our warm clothes, walking around like stay-puffed marshmallow people, getting ready for tomorrow. The weather outlook is still in our favor so we expect to have a good, but somewhat exciting, day on the upper mountain on Mount McKinley.  We will call you some time along the line. Adios.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

RMI Guide Adam Knoff calls in from High Camp.

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good luck Greg!! We’re sending your team lots of warm wishes and positive energy!

Posted by: Danny and Erin on 6/1/2015 at 3:45 pm

Have a wonderful climb today! Wishing everyone good luck!

Posted by: Jessie on 6/1/2015 at 10:54 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team at High Camp Gearing Up for Summit Push

Sunday, May 31st 9:45 am PDT

Hi there. This is Adam Knoff calling from high camp on Mount McKinley. Yesterday we packed up on a beautiful day at 14,000’ and moved to high camp at 17,200’. The team certainly decided that yesterday’s move was physically the hardest day of the trip with heavy packs and moving to a new altitude record for a lot of our climbers. We are taking a rest day here at camp today in beautiful sunny weather as we watch a lot of climbers head up the mountain towards the summit. We will be organizing gear and getting ready for our summit attempt tomorrow. The team is feeling great and happy to be at high camp preparing for their shot at the top of North America tomorrow. Wish us well, can’t wait to report back. We will talk to you tomorrow. Bye.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff

RMI Guide Adam Knoff calls in from high camp on Mount McKinley.

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good luck and stay strong!

Posted by: Patty on 6/1/2015 at 7:57 am

Good luck Team Knoff on reaching the summit tomorrow.  Proud of you , Shannon Long, for your drive and determination.  Indiana will be anxiously waiting for a full report.  Safe climbing and Godspeed!

Posted by: Mark fisher on 6/1/2015 at 6:13 am

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Check Out the Edge of the World

Friday, May 29th 11:00 pm PDT

Expedition life lends itself to improvisation and today gave us the perfect opportunity to think on our feet. Our original plan was to carry a load of group gear to the top of the fixed lines at 16,500’ and rest a full day tomorrow. However, a strong high pressure system moved over the mountain, opening the gates to the upper mountain for all of the other teams that have been stuck at 14,000’ for days. As a result, camp was extremely active today as well over a hundred climbers woke up early and began a move to high camp. The fixed lines were jammed up all day with climbers, and rather than wait in that line ourselves, our team formulated a new plan.

Today became our rest day. We relaxed in the beautiful weather at camp and took an afternoon stroll to the Edge of the World. Guides Adam and Andy, studs that they are, completed the high cache on their own in the evening once the fixed lines cleared up from the folks that were moving up. Our goal tomorrow is to pack up camp early, and move ahead to high camp, putting ourselves in the perfect position to attempt a summit bid in the next few days while the good weather lasts.

The team is in high spirits and feeling strong! Goodnight!

RMI Guide Nick Hunt and the rest of the team

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Booyah - a high pressure system! Thinking of you all scrambling up those fixed lines. G Barber, you have these dialed!  Hats off to the guides for putting your team in a good summit position.  Enjoy the amazing views to high camp! xoxo, Ker

Posted by: Kerry on 5/31/2015 at 11:26 am

Wow! You have amazing guides! Looks like the weather is perfect for you guys! Go for it!! Good luck at high camp and on summit day. We’re thinking of you. Take care!

Posted by: Joyce Tocher on 5/30/2015 at 2:47 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff and Team Back Carry from 14,200’ Camp

May 29, 2015 10:41am PST

As the sun hit our tent we woke up ready for our back carry to above windy corner. We could hear the wind in the distance scouring the buttress above us. But here at camp it was calm and brisk. Since we worked hard on our move to 14 camp and our back carry would only take a few hours, we opted for a relaxing morning before our work had to be done. After lounging in the posh till late morning we geared up and retrieved our cashed equipment and food.
When we got back it was only mid afternoon, so the next task was to fortify camp with walls in case the wind decided to give us trouble. Little did we know that our team consisted of Egyptian craftsman. In no time or camp was secure.With much of the day left we took a solid break and made some fresh coffee, which is a real amenity up here.  After being properly caffeinated we practice fixed line travel which will be a well needed review before cashing at 16,200.
We are feeling good and are putting ourselves in a position to head higher on the mountain. With a little more acclimation and calm weather we will be ready for high camp and a bid at the summit. We are all very excited.

RMI Guide Adam Knoff & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

I think I know who one of those Egyptian craftsmen is!

Posted by: Jessie on 5/29/2015 at 9:58 pm

Enjoy the moment.  Following each blog and the breathtaking photos.  Much love

Posted by: Carolyn Walllgren on 5/29/2015 at 5:48 pm

Mt. McKinley: Knoff & Team Move to 14,000’ Camp

May 28, 2015 - 9:39 am PT

In the big picture breakdown of Mt. McKinley’s climbing days, it would be said that historically the move day from 11,000 foot camp to 14,000 foot camp would prove to be one of the most difficult.  Today I would say that we beat the odds.  We broke camp at 7 am this morning in quick time and after a delicious breakfast of instant oatmeal and instant coffee we were ready to tackle the day’s first objective.  Directly out of 11 camp, a swell steep uphill called Motorcycle Hill greets you.  Next is Squirrel Hill and after that Windy Corner.  Now I’m not sure how we have gotten in such good graces with the often grumpy weather gods but today those gods, sitting around their big weather God dinner table, decide today should be the nicest day all month.  With clear skies, no wind and perfect walking temps we all zipped right through those hills and corners to a breathtaking camp here at 14,000 feet.  We were in no rush because the day was so amazing so we created our own camp out of scratch and are all feeling rewarded and strong.  Big move days rarely go this smooth.  We could not feel more psyched for what’s to come. 
I am thinking about you Liam.  I can’t wait to see you. 
Wishing all of our family and friends big hugs. 
RMI Guide Adam Knoff

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Looks like very good, uh- great, luck so far!  Have fun.

Posted by: Cathy S. on 5/29/2015 at 10:33 am

Glad for the weather.  Stay strong.  Enjoying the posts.

Posted by: Patty on 5/29/2015 at 10:22 am

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