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Entries By brent okita

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

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Take Another Storm Day

May 29, 2017
Another two feet of snow fell on us last night, and it was still snowing when I awoke to check the weather throughout the morning. So, another storm day at 11,200’ Camp.
With all this snow dreams of skiing the deep ‘pow’ entered all our skiers’ brains, but the only face shots we got was when the wind caught the snow we were shoveling from our tents and blew it back in our face. Oh well.
The snowfall intensity was remarkable. Fifteen minutes after clearing your tent it appeared that you had done nothing.
Since we had enjoyed a great rest day yesterday, I thought it better that we stretched our legs just a little today. So, we roped up for a short stroll down to 10,100’ where we helped out our team behind us and carried some of their cache up to camp for them while they were taking a storm/rest day at 7,800’. Loads were light and in a couple of hours we were back at camp.
An afternoon relaxing back in the tents topped off our little walk, leaving the team feeling pretty darned good at dinner.
We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for tomorrow. Send us positive thoughts for the weather. And thank you for the blog replies. We’ve gotten one batch sent to us so far and everyone loves hearing them.
Good night from 11,200’ camp, hopefully for the last time.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi my favorite nephew!  What a story of a winter wonderland!  Love the face shot story….gee should have packed those skis…you probably need a little more weight! Did you make progress yesterday?
Didn’t see a posting?
Praying for clear skies for today 5/31.
I am amazed at this feat and so proud of you and your team, JT.
Love you lots,
Auntie Gay

Posted by: Auntie Gay on 5/31/2017 at 7:12 am

Praying for the snow to stop!  All our love and thoughts are with you and the team.
The sun will shine and you will continue on!  We miss you and stay safe!  Mom & Dad xoxoxo

Posted by: Sandra Friaglia on 5/31/2017 at 3:13 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Rest at 11,200’

What a winter wonderland for May 28!  Over the past week at least three feet of snow has fallen and it is still coming down. Visions of power skiing, snowman building,and marshmallow roasting dance in our heads as we spend a day resting here at 11,200 camp.  The group is in good spirits and all set up to move when the mountain gives us our chance. There is quite a community building here at camp because no one has had the opportunity to move up recently. The RMI establishment is on the upper end of Main Street with 4 tents and a communal cook tent where we enjoy pancakes, hot chocolate, and tortellini. Our latrine had a nice makeover today now has three tall walls with a chicane entrance. We are all very happy about the improvements. As for the rest of Main Street there are no Starbucks but a constant view of people shoveling out their tents. 

Signing off from the little city with a population of 60 people here on the side of Denali.

RMI Guides Christina, Brent, JT & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hey Bill, I would have turned around at the first word of “no Starbucks” at basecamp. The team here is rooting for you! Good luck. -M

Posted by: Mike Wood on 5/30/2017 at 9:27 am

So fun being on the other end this year and reading these updates!(of course I’d rather be there with you!) I’m remembering that igloo at 11k camp…I hope no one had to use it if it’s still there! Steve and Lindsay, I’m so happy to hear you are doing great! I had no doubt you would be rockstars! Brent and Christina I’m remembering all the hard work you put in and how amazing you guys are! Thanks for the updates! Rooting for you guys and for a stretch of good (enough) weather!

Posted by: Dawn Golding on 5/29/2017 at 10:44 am

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