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Entries By brent okita

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Retreat to 14K Camp

June 9, 2017 12:55 a.m. PT

Every fifteen minutes another gust would pummel the side of the tent. Of course, it would have to be on my side. The moisture inside our precious shelter, frozen to the walls of the tent would fall on us with each gust, forcing us deeper into our bed of down.
Day five at 17,200’ turned in to a real doozy. The forecasts have actually been fairly good lately, and no good news was to be had with the latest issued. In fact, a high wind alert was posted for the upcoming four days with winds into the sixties. This had camp on edge, including my wise assistants Christina and JT, upon whom I rely so heavily to help make our trip the best and safest, My initial optimism that the weather would surely improve with time was tempered by the latest info coming out. A decision to retreat to the relative safety, protection and comfort of 14,200’ camp was made by all in camp, even though the strong winds are cause for concern as we need to navigate the technical terrain of the West Buttress.
Taking down tents and packing up went well even in those conditions, a testament of the ability of our veteran and tested team. The climb down to camp went well, besides the inevitable traffic of perhaps fifty people leaving camp simultaneously.
To our delight, the RMI teams at 14,200’ got into our cache and had camp all set up for us when we pulled in, What incredible work, A huge THANKS to https://www.rmiguides.com/blog/expedition/denali_5_23_17/desc, Jake and their teams!!!
So now, at day 19 we have a number of folks feeling the pull of home and a life put on hold while we take part in this incredible experience. A couple of others are still excited to finish off the climb and willing to put in a few more days. An updated forecast in the morning might help us see if we actually have a realistic chance of getting a good enough break on the weather in a few days time. We’ll make some final decisions in the morning, but right now we might not even have good enough weather to leave camp.
Goodnight from 14,200’ camp (revisited),

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Dear Alex,
“Nevertheless, she persisted…”
Keep strong and safe, team.

Posted by: Jasmin on 6/10/2017 at 6:38 am

Hello Mountain Friends!  So sorry that I couldn’t join the climb at the last minute this year.  Everything has resolved itself with my family’s health issues, but it was necessary to stay here.  While I have been very disappointed that I can’t be climbing with you, I have been following the blog entries about your progress with enthusiasm, and am impressed with the tough resolve that you have all exhibited as you’ve faced the various challenges on the mountain.  I truly hope that the weather relents and gives you all a well-deserved shot at the summit in the next few days!  Best of luck and stay safe everyone.  I hope to climb with you all at some point on down the road.  -William

Posted by: William Kenyon on 6/9/2017 at 6:59 pm

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Climb to Denali Pass

June 7, 2017
“Ok, I know we’ve been climbing for three hours straight, but let’s get a quick bite to eat and drink and get out of here and back to camp.”
“Brent, there’s like over thirty people behind us on the route.” JT exclaims, trying to be heard over the winds that have just picked up.
This was the scene at Denali Pass a few hours ago, high point of our midday sojourn to kick in the route, reset the anchors to the current route and mostly get some exercise so we do not waste away up here.
After passing a windless evening last night I was optimistic of our chances to summit this morning. But, as our typically poor luck would have it, around 7:00am the first ripples of wind tickled the tent walls. By 9:00 we had 40 mph gusts pushing the tent walls into our faces. Yes, we were all ready to go if the weather improved since it wasn’t horrible outside besides those pesky gusts.
Finally, 11:45 rolled around and we decided to go for a little walk.
By 12:30 we were climbing to Denali Pass. This is typically later than we’d like to start for the summit, but we didn’t have the summit in mind anyways. What took me by surprise was how our little walk inspired the entire camp at 17,200’ to gear up and climb.
Our team really climbed well today, especially impressing me on how well everyone descended.
The weather forecast is not really inspiring, but we’ll hang in here for a couple more days anyways to see if we can catch a break. The team is still smiling, and we had a great experience today. All it takes is one nice day to finish this thing off.
Good night,
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

JT -  I’m living vicariously through you, have fun and be safe.!

Posted by: Uncle Tad on 6/9/2017 at 6:53 am

Keep the faith, Lindsay and team!

Ken P

Posted by: Ken Porrello on 6/8/2017 at 12:49 pm

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Waiting for Better Weather

June 6, 2017
The cocoon of warmth and comfort provided by our sleeping bags is tough to leave sometimes, especially when the mercury is hovering well below zero outside. But starting at 6:30am that is my job: to look outside and check the climbing conditions for summit worthy weather.
The winds around camp had settled a little, but blowing snow was obvious above us around Denali Pass. Although better than yesterday, I was still rather leery of bringing the team into conditions like that. With improvement by 7:30 we had hots on for breakfast and the team prepared all they could by being all dressed and ready to go, but hanging out in their tents and staying warm.
At decision time there was still blowing snow off the higher ridges and the Pass, and I made another tough decision not to go for the summit, As soon as it warmed up a bit we continued with the home improvements started yesterday and are now proud owners of a roofed and enclosed bathroom. Ok, basically it’s just a place for us to pee and poop, but we’ll now have some privacy and a little protection from the gusts of wind and snow we’ve had to deal with the past few days. Up here, it’s the little things that help make this tough life at 17,200’ just a little nicer.
It was good for all of us to move and work a bit, and many blocks of snow were cut in the construction of our masterpiece. I believe we impressed our neighbors to no end, with many people coming over to garner building tips for making on of their own, or just taking pictures and marveling at the energy we put in to our humble commode.
As these days pass by even the most patient of us are getting antsy for the summit, but there’s one thing we don’t have control of is the weather. So, we just make the most of what we have. Life on this beautiful mountain in the company of some pretty cool people. Things could be a lot worse.

Bye for now.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi Bill and team,

I admire your perseverance with the waiting game, undoubtably the hardest part of the climb. Camp construction and naps are a great way to pass the time. I’ve been checking the weather periodically and trying to guess as to when you all might head for the summit. Fingers crossed for warmer weather when that finally does happen! Sending great thoughts for a safe summit bid!!


Posted by: Kristen Kelliher on 6/8/2017 at 6:11 am

You Guys have an AWESOME Camp!!! Climb Strong!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/8/2017 at 3:47 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Postpone Summit Bid Due to High Winds

June 5, 2017
Day 16 of the hostage crisis and negotiations are at a standstill. Apparently, those that hold the key to the summit have not been impressed with our payment so far. Climbing through a cold and snowy first week and a half impressed no one. Then they would not recognize the currency of toil that got us and all our food and gear to 17,200’. We missed a golden opportunity by a day, as the winds picked up last night, shaking the fabric of our tents and blowing light plumes of snow higher off the mountain.
These conditions entitled the team to breakfast in bed this morning, considering that we left our Posh House at 14,200’ to reduce our loads a bit.
But, the sun is shining, we have plenty of food and fuel, and our spirits are still high. After a post breakfast siesta we’ll get to work building walls around our new home to keep the tents a little more protected.
We’ll be ready to rock this mountain just as soon as she gives us a chance,

Staying warm enough, 
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

We are following you with every blog post and know you will stay strong and determined.  Katie

Posted by: Katie McRae on 6/6/2017 at 8:44 am

Wishing you calm winds and a safe journey. So proud of you, Bill.  Love to you and success to you and the team.

Posted by: Marie on 6/6/2017 at 8:35 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Prepare for Summit Bid

June 4, 2017
Excitement, nervousness and apprehension are some of the emotions running through the group right now as we try to relax and get some sleep before going for the summit in the morning.
The sky is clear, winds are light and it’s warm right now as the sun is still shining at 9:30pm. The morning will be quite different though. Sub zero temps will make getting out of these tents hard at best.
No need for an alpine start here on Denali. We’ll rise around 7:00-7:30am since we really don’t need to stop get back to camp early like on normal alpine climbs.
The crew is ready, and so are we!
Wish us luck.
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Wishing the team good weather for
The summit.
Stunning pictures
Love to Tommy and Alex and Italian feast waiting for you.
Aunt Elisa and Uncle Garrick

Posted by: Elisa and Garrick on 6/5/2017 at 4:24 pm

Wishing you all a successful, safe and amazing journey.
Nearly there!!!!

Posted by: Sheryl Hawkins on 6/5/2017 at 11:05 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Walk to the Edge of the World

A day of rest was slated for today after our big day yesterday, and we took full advantage of it. Feasting on another breakfast of smoked salmon, bagels and cream cheese, we chose to stretch the legs with a short walk to the “Edge of the World”, where you can look down into the NE fork of the Kahiltna Glacier some 6000’ below, and also see our first camp at 7800’. That seems so long ago that we were there, maybe because it was.
It’s been two weeks now that we’ve been climbing this mountain. And although it’s time to ‘get ‘er done’, spirits are pretty high. We’re all excited to get into position at high camp, even though we know this means a much less comfortable existence that our digs here at 14,200’ provide.

The forecast calls for an end to the high pressure we’ve been enjoying after tomorrow, but no real significant bad weather coming in either. I’ve certainly summited when the forecasts have been like this, but it would be nice to have a couple days like the past two. What I do know is that everyone is rested, strong and ready for what comes.

Wish us luck! We’ll take all we can get. Talk to you from 17,200’ camp.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina, JT & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

congratulations JT we are all very proud of you,may the force be with you.love you ,Grandpa.

Posted by: Win Smith Sr on 6/5/2017 at 2:06 pm

Its So Exciting to follow along on your climb! I wish you all the best and Pray for good weather!!
Dave Kestel

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/5/2017 at 3:26 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Climb Fixed Line to Place Cache

June 2, 2017
As cold as it is at 6:30am here at 14,200’, we knew that an early start to our day would be for the best. The crew was up and at ‘em even before hots were quite ready. We all knew this was a big day, and it was.
The sun hadn’t hit our part of the mountain yet, so we were bundled up. This is my usual plan, and surprisingly, we were the first group out of camp. This always bodes well in terms of being one of the first on the fixed lines - that part of the mountain which is quite steep where passage up it is protected by fixed ropes that we can secure ourselves to while climbing slopes up to 50 degrees in steepness.
The team really crushed it, then climbed well again on the West Buttress itself. This really is the most spectacular and challenging part of the route. A few of us cached our loads at our standard location at 16,600’. But two of our rope teams climbed all the way to high camp at 17,200’ and cached there! Great work by everyone.
Later, upon return to camp, we heard that a group that left an hour after us had to wait for two hours due to the congestion in the fixed roped. We were all pretty psyched that we didn’t have that issue. Instead, we had one of the most perfect days climbing the Butttress I’ve seen. Windless and warm.
The weather forecast is, of course, on everybody’s minds, with this window of nice weather perhaps coming to an end in a couple of days. Some guides are even accelerating their timelines to head up to 17,200’ a day or so earlier. I’ve toyed with this idea too, to forego our rest day tomorrow and try to get a summit in while we can. But, my gut tells me to practice the patience I always preach, so we’ll enjoy our rest day tomorrow and take it one day at a time. I know we’ll all be the stronger for it, and after our big day we’re all a little tired right now.
So, good night from 14,200’.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina an JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good luck JT, have fun and be safe!

Posted by: Tad on 6/4/2017 at 5:28 am

Good work.  Ardel, I’m thrilled your team is “movin on up.”
Have fun.

Posted by: David Zeps on 6/3/2017 at 10:44 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Reclaim Cache from 13,500’

June 1, 2017
Well we were given another blue bird day today with amazing views abounding in every direction. As many of you may know, clear skies usually correspond with cold temperatures, and that was true as ever this morning. At 8 am Christina ventured a peek at her thermometer inside the tent, and her findings confirmed our suspicions, the mercury read a measly -10 F.
After we huddled around some hot beverages, and waited for the sun to start working its magic, the day truly began. With temperatures rising steadily, a few of our climbers who were feeling particularly well acclimated headed down hill to pick up some of our food and fuel at 13,500 ft while the rest of the crew honed in on their fixed rope skills.
We did a bit of lounging whilst preparing and practicing for our carry to high camp tomorrow and enjoyed drying out and soaking up some rays! It was appreciated by all to have some nice sunny weather to balance out all the snowy weather we endured earlier in the trip. That is all from 14 Camp!

RMI Guides JT,  Brent and Christina

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Hi Alex and Tom and Team—
Still following and routing for you all. What strength and endurance.
Keep warm.

Posted by: Jasmin on 6/2/2017 at 10:43 pm

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Move to 14,200’ Camp

May 31, 2017
Finally, our string of bad weather is over and summer has come to Denali! Yahoo.
Braving the early morning chill of camp at 11,200’ we didn’t linger in the Posh over breakfast but set about taking down camp after our oatmeal and coffee fix. Everyone did a great job and we were climbing by 9:00am.
We did have company on the route, but the traffic was manageable. Unlike our previous climb of the route when we made our carry, this time we ended up walking in just a base layer after it warmed up in the afternoon. What a treat.
All that said, the move to 14,200’ is always tough. It’s just a big jump in altitude for everyone. So yes, we’re all feeling it just a bit, but that’s normal. The team could not have performed better. We even picked up some of our cache from 13,500’.
Tomorrow we have a fairly easy day ahead, which will help our acclimatization to our new home.
As the shadows overtake camp, it’s starting to get a little chilly. Just a harbinger of the cold that will settle on us tonight. But we’re all snug in our tents now ready for the night.
Good night from 14,200’.
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Dear Lindsay & Steve,
Have been trying to get through to send you a message but it won’t go through. Sorry. Want you both to know that I can’t wait each morning to check and see what you’re doing. I was aware of the intense training required (for which I give you so much credit) but never appreciated the patience required to get to the summit! Hang in there. It will happen.
Had to chuckle when your guides were describing the personalities of the group. No question who the “dynamo” is.!!!  Give my best to the couple from Colorado.
Safe journey. I am there in spirit with you !
.Love Auntie A & Uncle Fred

Love from Mom & Dad too!!

Posted by: Sandra Friaglia on 6/2/2017 at 3:41 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Excited for Better Weather and Getting Ready to Move

May 30, 2017
Finally we get a break. After nine days of squirrelly, cold, snowy weather the sun broke out just prior to noon. There was an inkling of better weather coming earlier, but nothing definitive. And when it broke, camp went nuts with folks either moving or carrying loads. We opted to stay put, not liking the idea of fighting all that traffic going up Motorcycle Hill and coming into camp at 14,200’ late, needing to build camp as the shadows overtake camp and the temperature drops 30 degrees.
A couple of folks are fighting small colds, and this warm, easy day is just what the doctor ordered. When we saw rope teams waiting for 30-40 minutes to just leave camp because of the traffic, we felt pretty good about the decision.
We certainly enjoyed the day as it became spectacularly sunny and clear. This is the Denali I love and dream of coming back to every year.
With the weather folks are streaming into camp and it’s as big as I’ve seen it. But, with just a little luck, we’ll be out of here early and moving into a 14,200’ camp that has been vacated by the crowds of climbers amassed there waiting for their opportunity to move to 17,200’ camp for a bid for the summit.
Everyone’s dispositions have brightened with the sunshine, which is amazing considering the good cheer among the team even in the poor weather.
We’ll be talking to you from 14,200’ soon!

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Way to go Alex and Tom!! We are rooting for you today getting to 14,000!!! We all wish you well and stay strong from Colorado!!

Posted by: nicole celona-jacobs on 6/1/2017 at 10:14 am

Alex and Tom,
I am so excited for you both, it sounds like your are doing great.  Keep up the hard work and perseverance!  Warm thoughts!

Posted by: Cindy K on 6/1/2017 at 10:13 am

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