Entries By ben liken

Aconcagua: Hailes & Team Start the Trail into the Vacas Valley

Posted by: Walter Hailes, Ben Liken, Stoney Molina | December 23, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua
Elevation: 9,000'

First day on the Aconcagua trail and even though it was hot, we had a nice breeze blowing most of the day. We were all very thankful to have that wind. We moved well on the trail enjoying the rigid high desert beauty. We also continued to tell stories of loved ones at home and a few misadventures.

RMI Guide Walter Hailes

An RMI team starting the trek into Aconcagua, Argentina. Photo: RMI Collection Hailes and team begin their trek into Aconcagua, Argentina. Photo: Walter Hailes

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8

Aconcagua: Hailes & Team are Packed and Ready for the Trail

Posted by: Walter Hailes, Ben Liken, Stoney Molina | December 22, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

This is always a big day, permits, buying last minute supplies, traveling to Penitentes, gear checking, and packing. Luckily it went as smooth as possible. Our one hiccup was accidentally ordering everyone the same special at lunch which was made for two people. So each of us ate a two-pound steak, papas Freitas, salad, and two empanadas. Or as much as we could handle of the giant meal.

Well it’s off to bed for our final night in a bed for several days… I can’t wait

RMI Guide Walter Hailes

An RMI team loading gear in Mendoza, Argentina. Photo: RMI Collection The Road to Penitentes, Argentina. Photo: RMI Collection

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1

Aconcagua: December 20th -Walter Hailes & Team Arrive Mendoza

Posted by: Ben Liken, Stoney Molina, Walter Hailes | December 21, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Aconcagua

The first step of having a great mountaineering trip is having a complete team with all our bags and I am happy to report that both our team members and all our bags arrived today in great shape. Once in town we were all able to buy last minute items here in Mendoza while enjoying an unseasonable cool but sunny day. Great summer weather. After a quick meet and greet we talked about what will happen over the next few weeks both on and off the mountain then headed out to one of the great eateries close to our hotel. We all shared the first, of what I am sure will be many funny, stories with each other and with bellies full of Argentina beef we all crashed at the hotel ready for another great day tomorrow.

RMI Guides Walter Hailes, Ben Liken & Stoney Molina

RMI Expeditions December 20th Aconcagua Team Assembles in Mendoza.  Photo: Walter Hailes

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11

Mt. Rainier: August 16th Summit!

Posted by: Ben Liken, Brent Okita, Leon Davis | August 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount Rainier
Elevation: 14,410'

With the freezing level at 13,500’, the Mount Rainier summit climb teams reached the top just after 6:00 a.m.  RMI Guide Ben Liken reported light winds and sunny with a cloud deck below Camp Muir. They spent over an hour on the summit taking in the views and crossing through the crater to Columbia Crest, the highest point in Washington.  By 7:45 a.m. both teams had crested back over the crater rim and began their descent to Camp Muir.

Congratulations to today’s summit climbers!

An RMI team on the upper section of Mount Rainier. Photo: RMI Collection
7

Fisher Chimneys: Beren and Team Summit

Posted by: Jake Beren, Nick Hunt, Ben Liken | August 09, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *North Cascades
Elevation: 9,127'

In the North Cascades of Washington, RMI Guide Jake Beren and team reached the summit of Mt. Shuksan via the Fisher Chimneys this morning.  The team is back at high camp for the night and has been enjoying sunny, warm, and perfect weather.

Congratulations Climbers!

Mt. Baker as seen from high camp on Mt. Shuksan in the North Cascades, WA. Photo: RMI Collection
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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Powder Wading

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon | July 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 348'

July 17, 2014 - 8:45 pm PT
In just under 24 hours, our climbing team went from the 17,200 ft high camp to the 7,200 ft basecamp.  It wasn’t remotely easy.  Luckily, we had a calm start to the day which allowed us to balance carefully down the exposed and spectacular crest of the West Buttress.  Things got tougher at the base of the fixed lines when we needed to virtually swim through bottomless powder snow.  We reached easier terrain upon which one could walk laboriously in knee deep new snow and this ground got us to 14 camp.  We did a fry-up of a few quesadillas while reorganizing gear and then set off in cloud toward Windy Corner.  Plenty of snow kept us walking funny and breathing hard as we negotiated the side hills and corners of Squirrel Hill and then Motorcycle.

At 11 camp we threw up tents and downed dinner.  The team wanted to just sleep for a few hours before resuming the march to BC at 2:30 AM.  The early start would give our best chance at catching the lower glacier in a frozen (rather than slushy) state.  We pushed on through the night gloom, a few thick fog banks and miles of glacier.  It was great to see -as expected from conditions on the way in- that the lower Kahiltna was well put together.  Very few crevasse crossings troubled us.  Finally we got working, trudging and sweating up Heartbreak Hill.  As we progressed, the weather improved to the point that with our arrival at the former site of Basecamp (nothing remains so late in the season) it was good enough to dial up K2 Aviation on the Sat Phone and seek a pickup.  The K2 pilots did their normal exceptional job in whisking us out of winter and into the Talkeetna summer.

Day 21 of our climb will end with a victory dinner in town.  True, we stopped a couple thousand feet short of the summit, but victory is still ours.  It feels that good to have endured Denali together.

Best Regards and thanks for following,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Flying into Kahiltna Base Camp on Mt. McKinley. Photo: Lindsay Mann The Talkeetna Airstrip in view. Photo: RMI Collection Sunset in Talkeetna. Photo: Linden Mallory

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3

Mt. McKinley: Hahn and Team Descend to 11,000’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon | July 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,000'

July 16, 2014 - 11:37 pm PT

Hey,  this is Dave Hahn with the last team on Denali.  We did make it out of 17,000’ today.  We woke up, the weather was stable and we started working our way down.  And sure enough, we found some deep snow, it was hard going, sometimes waist deep but we made it down to 14,000’ and then plowed through a bunch more new snow to get to 11,000’.  We are taking a rest here at 11,000’ and our hope, everybody is feeling pretty enthusiastic, about trying to get to the airstrip tomorrow morning.  We are just going to rest a few hours and get on the trail again.  We expect it to be a little bit easier now that we are down low and conditions will be a bit better than what we were dealing with.

All is well with us. 
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team camped at 11,000 ft on Mt. McKinley, Alaska.  Photo: RMI Collection


RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls from 11,000ft on Mt. McKinley, Alaska.

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Mt McKinley: Significant Snowstorm Keeps Hahn & Team at 17K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon | July 15, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

July 15th, 2014 - 7:16 pm PT

Yesterday’s storm hit hard at 17,200 ft.  The heavy snow continued through dinner and the night, with plenty of wind to make things noisy.  The team took turns through the night, going out to dig snow in order to keep tents from being crushed.  The hard workers would come back into the tents coated head-to-toe in rime ice.  By morning, several things were clear.  Significantly, the sky wasn’t one of them.  Our climbers were wet and cold from the rough night and our summit ambitions were now going to take a back seat to getting down the mountain safely.  Even before we could see the Autobahn, we knew it couldn’t receive two plus feet of snow overnight without gaining a significant avalanche risk.  Sure enough, after the morning shovel session and breakfast we did get some clearing and couldn’t see any evidence of our track to Denali Pass.  The slope had dramatically wind sculpted snow slab from top to bottom.  We won’t mess with it.  Winds died in the afternoon, which made it a little easier for the team to dry out and get some rest.  We’ll give the slopes below us a day to cook in the sun and stabilize and we’ll hope the next storm pulse holds off long enough for us to get down from the ridiculously high West Buttress.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Sunset from Mt. McKinley's 17,200' Camp. Photo: Katy Reid

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4

Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team - A Heavy Fall of Snow

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon | July 14, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

July 14th, 2014 - 7:45 pm PT

At seven this morning, a good chunk of the sky was clear.  We could see way out into the tundra to the West and there were mountains visible in the South that we were seeing for the first time on this trip.  Our objective, Denali’s South Peak, was in the clear and there didn’t appear to be any wind blowing at Denali Pass.  We geared up to climb for the summit.  There was a bit of cloud to watch in the Northwest though.  As we broke trail toward the base of the Autobahn (the route to Denali Pass) we watched that cloud in the NW come a little closer.  We climbed some of the steeper terrain of the Autobahn while still in morning shadows.  It was cold and progress was slow due to our need to re-establish the snowed over route.  The clouds encroached on the North Peak.  Then they formed a cap on the South Peak.  We were still in relatively calm conditions, so we pushed on to about 17,900 feet, in order to give the clouds a chance to change their mind and flee.  This didn’t happen.  The clouds became a snowstorm and so we spun around and worked carefully back to high camp.  Since the storm showed no signs of abating, it seemed a good time to retrieve our emergency cache of food from 16,200 feet.  A few intrepid guides accomplished that mission just in time to avoid strengthening winds on the West Buttress.  We’re safe in our tents now at 17,200 feet, waiting for the storm to go elsewhere before we try once again to climb Denali.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Guide breaks trail on the Autobahn, Mt. McKinley. Photo: Lindsay Mann

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3

Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Higher Than Most

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Ben Liken, Sean Collon | July 14, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 17,200'

July 13, 2014 - 10:58 pm PT

Yesterday was a tough climb to reach high camp at 17,200 ft.  Bad weather at the start of the day caused us to get on the trail later than we’d have liked and a couple inches of new snow on the route made the steep pitches a little more exhausting than they might otherwise be.  Even so, with heavy packs and tired legs, we were thrilled to balance along on the crest of the West Buttress, enjoying an endless sunset of golden light.  We pulled into camp at 9 PM, just as the sun got tangled in thick cloud.  It was a scramble to build camp and get stoves going before the real cold took hold.  We ran stoves until 2:30 AM in order to have enough water.  As we worked hard to get dug in, we watched a team of two guides and one climber make a late descent of the “Autobahn”.  They’d managed to thread the needle and hit the summit and as they neared camp, the weather came in again with clouds and wind.  Our tents stood up to a few good gusts in the night and the usual blowing snow but as tired as we were, it didn’t keep us awake.  Morning was calm and easy where we were but too windy and mean up above, so we finished getting our camp in order and took it easy instead of climbing.  The team of three has descended now and we are left alone in our quest… Likely the highest people in North America, even as we simply sit in camp on what has become a beautiful evening.  If the good weather lasts until morning, we’ll know how to use it.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

16,500' on the West Buttress, Mt. McKinley. Photo: RMI Collection

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