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Entries By ben ammon

Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Holding Tight at 14K for the Night

Friday, May 31, 2019 4:36 PM PT With the forecast still calling for heavy snow we have opted to stay in the confines of our camp here a 14K. The team enjoyed a late morning breakfast and is now napping away the afternoon. Sunday is still looking like our first possible day to fly off the glacier with the weather only improving into Monday and Tuesday. The plan as of now will still be to launch downhill around midday tomorrow and travel all the way to the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna hopefully chasing improving weather down glacier and ultimately a flight out of here early Sunday morning. We'll see what hand we are dealt with tomorrow. The hope here is to avoid having to travel and set up camp in bad weather but rather time it just right that we walk straight into a plane. For the time being however, we rest and wait for our opportunity. RMI Guide Steve Gately
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Denali Expedition: Gately and Team are back at 14,000’ Camp

Thursday, May 31, 2019 12:11 AM PT The team is know all safely back down at 14 camp and tucked in for the evening. Summit day was a long hard fought battle but everyone did fantastic. The morning of our summit attempt we woke up in early in an attempt to beat the crowds up our first obstacle, the "auto bahn". This section often takes a couple hours to complete without a break and is steep and exposed. The exposure of this terrain requires us to use a form of running protection that protects the team against a fall but is quite time consuming. The end of this hurdle puts you at Denali Pass and our first rays of welcome sunshine. From here steep rolling glacier takes us up and around a swirled white and black rock feature known as "zebra rocks". At the top of this feature we were faced with a gentle but cold 15 mph wind. The terrain mellows out quite a bit as we meander through open glacier past a prominent rock point known "arch deacons tower" and into the football field, a flat depression just before our final slope to the summit ridge. Once on the summit ridge a short but dramatic climb brings us to the summit. The team took a few moments to take pictures and celebrate the ascent before our attention was turned toward getting back home. All in all the trip took us 13 hours round trip, all at elevations above 17,000 ft. With the summit behind us we turn our focus now to trying to truly get back home. Cloudy and snowy weather are abundant in the extended forecast which means chances of flying off anytime soon are nil. Tomorrow we'll check the weather in the morning and make decision to further descend, or to keep the luxury of our fortified camp here at 14, or opt for better weather. That's all for now, it's late again as I'm writing this and I'm in need of some serious rest! Thanks for following along everyone! RMI Guide Steve Gately & Team
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Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Back to High Camp after Summit

Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 12:56 AM PT The team is all safely back at High Camp now. It was a long day for everyone and it's past midnight now and were finally killing the stoves for the evening. I'll try and put together a better picture of summit day tomorrow for everyone. Stay tuned! RMI Guide Steve Gately

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Congrats all and safe return!

Posted by: Darren Beck on 5/31/2019 at 6:02 am

Nice one Raj and team! Couldn’t have a better leader than Mr Gately himself!!!!!

Well done all. Bravo

Posted by: John Horgan on 5/30/2019 at 8:57 am

Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Summit!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 5:00 PM PT Hey all this is the Denali Expedition with RMI Steve Gately. The team and I are on the summit! 100% of the team made it so everybody's up. Everybody's doing well. We had a wonderful morning- blue skies, warm weather. We picked up a little bit of wind towards the summit. We had to work for it at the end there. We're all here safe and sound. We'll give a shout via email to the blog when we are back safe and sound at [17K] Camp. That's all. RMI Guide Steve Gately

RMI Guide Steve Gately calls in from the Denali summit!

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Steve! I’m so proud and happy for you for making the summit! I’ll give you a call when you’re on the bottom so I can tell you about the light indoor rock climbing I’ve been doing. Can’t wait to hear all about it.

Posted by: Robbie Snow on 5/31/2019 at 1:55 pm

Congrats!  Keeping you in prayer.

Posted by: Molly Bealer on 5/31/2019 at 9:06 am

Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Move to 17K Camp

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 6:09 PM PT We woke up early this morning. 5am to be exact. 14K Camp is full of eager climbers waiting, likely everybody else, for their shot at the summit. The problem with extended bad weather is that climbers stack up in the queue. Like a dam during spring runoff, eventually you have to open the flood gates to release the back up to prevent the dam from over flowing. Well, our theoretical opening of the flood gates manifests as a decent weather window for climbing. We braved the cold, got packed up, ate a quick breakfast and were on the move by 7:15am. Over two hours before the sun normally hits camp. About halfway up the fixed lines we started to receive a little filtered sun and fingers and toes began to finally thaw out. A quick glance back down the terrain we had just climbed confirmed our need for an early departure. The flood gates had opened. 50-75 people streamed out of camp in a solid single-file line. We felt pretty good about being so far ahead of the human onslaught. The West Buttress itself is easily the most aesthetic portion of the entire ascent. The buttress offers steep climbing, wild exposure and views of the Alaska Range and it's expansive blanket of tundra that unfolds to the East. The weather stayed quite pleasant for us as we ascended the ridge that would eventually lead us to our high camp at 17,000ft. Soon enough steep terrain and exposure led to the gentle slopes of the Upper Peters Glacier. We sauntered our way into camp. There is already a small village of erected tents hunkered down in a scoop of snow sculpted by the wind. We opted to travel a bit further and build camp where no one has yet. We've gotten quite efficient at the process and within a short time were all hunkered in warm sleeping bags as out of the elements. The weather at the moment is a bit cloudy with light snow showers and light winds. Not completely unpleasant but not perfect either. Tomorrow we will try and climb to the summit of Denali assuming that weather and conditions allow. The team is poised and ready, all we need now is to be allowed safe passage. We will wake up early again tomorrow morning, stick our heads out of the tent and hope we like what we see! Thanks for following along! RMI Guide Steve Gately
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James—Always the Eagle flies high!  Happy thoughts coming your way for this ultimate ‘touch of Denali’!  Smiles and hugs from Nana

Posted by: Pat Howell on 5/29/2019 at 11:36 am

So happy to hear of good progress. Cheering for you from WI! Hoping for fair conditions in the days to come!

Posted by: Lauren Germann on 5/29/2019 at 7:04 am

Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Rest for Move to High Camp

Monday, May 27, 2019 - 6:30 PM PT Today the team awoke to slightly calmer weather, finally allowing everyone to venture out of their tents. Camp received a good bit of new snow, and the wind organized the snow into orderly piles, just not necessarily in the most convenient locations. After everyone soaked up some morning sun, the team returned to their tents to rest for our upcoming move. If the weather cooperates, we will be pushing to 17,000' Camp tomorrow hoping for good summit conditions the following day. RMI Guide Steve Gately

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Cheering for all of you guys and crossing fingers for a great summit weather over the next few days!

Posted by: Anna on 5/28/2019 at 3:49 am

Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Remain at 14,200 Enjoying Pancakes

The team woke up to another expected stormy morning. We decided to make pancakes for breakfast, a lengthy process at 14,000' when you're serving for 12. We manage to take until almost midday to scarf down the feast. The weather however isn't as severe as the forecast was calling for but still not nearly suitable enough for travel higher. So we'll spend another afternoon hunkered down in the tents. The forecast is calling for another day of stormy weather before improvement is expected into Tuesday. Waiting out bad weather such as this is a common occurrence on this mountain and I may argue that it's simply an "entry fee" for safe passage to the summit. The team is doing great however with all the down time and all are well equipped with various forms of entertainment to pass the hours. My favorite being snacking. I mean, the more I eat the less my pack weighs, right? If only such simple logic actually translated to reality as efficiently as it does in my head! As I finish ty ping this I can hear the wind fiercely barreling over the exposed granite of the upper mountain like a freight train rumbles the earth as is passes through a small western town where the residents are so use to the thunderous event that it seemingly goes unnoticed. Such is life at our little village here perched at 14,000ft. Just a quaint little town with a train problem. RMI Guide Steve Gately

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Denali Expedition: Gately and Team Rest at 14,200 Camp

The team slept in this morning after a long day climbing to 16,400' yesterday. With our cache in place we are now just waiting for the right weather window. Unfortunately the forecast is calling for a strong low pressure system to move through the area starting this evening through possibly Tuesday. The system is expected to bring high winds and heavy snowfall. The weather up until now has been spectacular so I suppose we can handle a few days of rest. That's all for now. Thanks for following along. RMI Guide Steve Gately

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Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Cache Supplies on the Upper Mountain

Friday, May 24, 2019 11:19 PM PT After awaking to an uncertain forecast and thick clouds passing through camp, the team gathered for breakfast to wait and see what the day held. After a short wait, the clouds began to break and we were greeted with views of the West Buttress. The day went on to deliver excellent weather and we were able to establish a cache at the base of Washburn's Thumb, around 16,400 feet. With our final cache in position, we are now resting at 14k camp and waiting for a weather window to move to 17k camp and then make our attempt on the summit. RMI Guide Steve Gately & Team
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Inspirational to observe the daily progress.  Love the commitment!  Eyes front, steady as she goes & God Bless!!

Posted by: Tom & Susan Dietz on 5/25/2019 at 12:33 pm

Denali Expedition: Gately & Team Fortify Their Camp at 14K Camp

Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:28 pm PT Today the team focused on fortifying camp, finishing the snow walls that shield our tents from the wind. The Mountain treated us to beautiful morning views above the clouds while we worked, but the weather turned snowy by afternoon. Later in the day, the team practiced using ascenders in order to be prepared for our eventual trip up the fixed lines. Weather allowing, we are hoping to put those skills into practice tomorrow, leaving a cache of summit food at 16,000 feet. RMI Guide Steve Gately
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This is such exciting adventure to follow!  I am so proud of my Grandson James!
It is such a pleasure to read each word on every blog—Thank you all for this! On to the Top of the
Denali World with safety!!

Posted by: Pat Howell on 5/25/2019 at 12:37 pm

The blog makes it sounds so beautiful!  Stay safe and can’t wait to see your pictures and hear your stories.

Posted by: Jill and Kristi Snow on 5/24/2019 at 4:21 pm

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