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Entries By brent okita

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

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Cache Gear at 13,500’

May 27, 2017 10:15 pm PST

During our break on the Polo Field at 12,800’,someone asked if we could keep our big down parkas on. Good question. It was pretty darned cold and the wind was directly into our face. I’d never had to climb in my parka at that elevator before, but it sure sounded like a good idea to me. Our attempt yesterday really set us up for success today. The team learned how to keep their faces protected while not fogging up their glasses or goggles. And that allowed us to travel in some chilly conditions today. A great skill to have before we get to the higher, colder parts of the mountain. Our time thus far has been particularly cold and unsettled. I’m just glad we haven’t been hanging up at 14,200’ this whole time like our other two groups. With luck, we’ll get there just as this predicted high pressure system comes through, hopefully with the expected rise in temperatures too. We wore those parkas all the way around Windy Corner to our cache site at 13,500’, where we were finally sheltered from the wind and could bask in some sunny, warm weather. Amazingly, we all opted to keep those big coats on all the way back to camp. With the wind at our backs and nothing much in our packs, we could gloat just a bit as we passed by the madding crowds on the uphill slog into the cold wind. Our hard work was done, and we were headed back to camp. There’s something to be said about being up early and back early even at the cost of breaking trail each morning.

If we get another break with the weather tomorrow, we might just make the move to 14,200’ camp. That would be fantastic, especially how everyone is doing so well.
That’s it from 11,200’. It’s been a big day.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina, JT & Team

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Denali Expedition: Meet RMI Guide Brent Okita & Team

Awakening to blue skies we were ready to carry to 13,500’, but, unfortunately, the winds picked up suddenly at the top of Motorcycle Hill and we were forced to bury our load there and retreat to the protection and comfort of camp. The weather taught us some valuable lessons about taking care of ourselves, lessons that will do us well later in the trip as we get higher on the mountain.

As I’ve mentioned before, we do have a pretty cool team. Perhaps I’ll share a brief sketch of the individuals on this team.

I’ll start with an incredibly impressive lady who’s palmares in mountain climbing outshines most of our accomplishments. And her ability to handle the outrageous loads this climb demands rivals climbers half her age. Oh, she/we hope this summit will be her 50th.

Another member who shares ‘senior’ status with the aforementioned climber comes from Vermont and is no stranger to cold, harsh conditions. He hasn’t been fazed by any of the weather challenges and has handled the climbing like a rock star! No surprise though - I’ve climbed with him before and reached the summit with his step daughter on this mountain a few years ago.

A climber very dear to my heart, and a favorite of us all, hails from England, and is here with me for the second time. Having not reached the summit the first time, he’s back for more. Such a kind-hearted, nicer person you will never meet, and he’s more comfortable with the mountain this time around.  He is the type of person who makes you feel good to be around him.

We have a couple from Colorado who climbed with me last fall on Rainier. She is amazingly strong, and weighing in at half the weight of some of my climbers, she has still been able to do her part in load carrying and always manages to greet the day with a huge smile.Her other half has the strength of two men, and the energy that knows no bounds. Always helping out with camp chores, we have to sometimes rein him in so he doesn’t make us guides look like slackers.

Another couple climbed with me two years ago, but could make this trip happen last year, so here they are. We’ve really needed to help her come out of her shell here (NOT). She’s a dynamo, and I remember her strength two years ago. I think she’s even stronger now, as evident in the guns she’s sporting for quads. Her husband balances her outgoing nature so nicely, and it’s fun watching them together.  he has trained incredibly hard, unwilling to be outdone by his partner. In fact, when there is trail breaking to do, I put him right behind me in the hardest spot.

Our last member I remember meeting as I passed one of our Alaskan seminars that take place on the mountain. And now he’s here, doing it. Sometimes a bit quieter than the others, he constantly impresses me with strength and ability. Apparently, he’s sporting a battery of electronics, but the guy can definitely handle it. He works for Samsung, so I guess it just makes sense.
And then there are the guides:

On his first trip here, JT is rocking it! Always working and asking great questions, he’s guiding like a seasoned pro. Great in difficult situations, he’s been great company in the tent too.

On our second trip together, Christina has been nothing but exceptional. A joy to be around, she also knows the ins and outs of these climbs and I rely upon her for tying together all the details that makes the expedition run so well.

Then there’s me. Just a simple guy that likes walking uphill and bore you with details of life here on the mountain. I’ll try not to be so long winded next time.

Good night from 11,200’.

RMI Guide Brent Okita

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi Bill!

Been lots of fun following your trip, makes me want to get back there for sure. Sounds like you’ve got a great group and are climbing strong (of course!). Knee is doing well, taking my stitches out was an adventure and school is busy. Enjoy these rest days, an extra day to acclimatize is never bad although I’d imagine you’re also eager to keep moving. I know you’re good at taking care of yourself when the weather turns! Have lots of fun! And tell Brent I say hi!!
Love K

Posted by: Kristen Kelliher on 5/28/2017 at 7:47 am

I love your emails…..the longer the better….Look forward to and enjoy them everyday!  Thanks for sharing!
Stay safe and a great big “miss you” to Lindsay and Steve!

Posted by: Sandra Friaglia on 5/28/2017 at 6:32 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Rest Day at 11K Camp

Clear skies were a very welcome sight as I peeked out the vestibule on this frigid, frosty morning. Definitely our coldest morning yet! But, we had a cache to put in so the wheels were set in motion for our climb.
Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated to the point where we pulled the plug and took a well deserved rest day instead.
What a treat. Lounging about in the tents, eating, listening to tunes, reading, sleeping, eating some more. Our bodies sucked in the energy from the calories eaten and the warmth provided by the radiation getting through the clouds and snow showers. Tents and sleeping bags dried as our bodies got the recharge we all needed.
The smell of fried onions, red peppers, chicken and chilies greeted us when the dinner bell rang, and no doubt made the rest of camp salivate with envy. Chefs JT and Christina put on yet another fine spread.
It’s these simple pleasures that we tend to value so much in the mountains.
After our dress rehearsal this morning and rest day I think we’ll be ready to rock tomorrow. The forecast hasn’t changed any, but the winds aren’t bad. It’s just a bit irritating to climb in the occasional snow showers and cloudy weather. But, I guess we’ve been doing it all week. This team has demonstrated the capacity to climb well, so hopefully we’ll get our cache established at 13,500’ and be primed to move to 14,200’ camp when we can.
Not that I’m a great believer in the weather forecasts around here, but they say high pressure is coming our way by Monday. We’re due!
Good night from 11,200’, where I’m in our tent at the very reasonable hour of 9:00p after camp chores, and not freezing my fingers in the frigid cold of these Alaskan nights.
Oh, and by the way, your loved ones are all happy and doing exceptionally well. The guides included. If you all have any messages for the team, our office staff will send them our way sometime. Hopefully coinciding with our next rest day where I’ll have time to share them with everyone. Just don’t get carried away with the heartfelt mushy stuff. I hate choking up in front of the group.

Your messengers of news from above,

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Alex and Tom!

Sounds like you are eating well! Didn’t know you would have a chief on board. We hope you are all doing well, we miss you! Keep up the great work!

Love the endocrinology staff :)

Posted by: Endo staff on 5/26/2017 at 3:47 pm

Happy Birthday Patty! I can’t think of a better way for you to celebrate you, today! So happy that Sally is there with you to share in your joy along with your new friends ! Love and hugs for eternity! Regina

Posted by: Regina Brown on 5/26/2017 at 8:42 am

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Experience Squirrely Weather

May 24, 2017

Well, the weather has changed, and not for the best. Wind and snow intensified this morning, so much so that we postponed our departure to retrieve our cache from 10,000’ for a bit to make sure a big storm didn’t move in.
But the weather held off enough for us to bring our cache back to camp. Now we’re set.
This continually amazes me. When we got back I thought we all deserved a break, figuring an hour or two of tent time to rest up would be most welcome, 20-30 minutes later I hear most everyone out cutting blocks to beef up the walls we already had. Impressive!
We’re sitting pretty now, ready for anything. Should tomorrow’s weather preclude a carry to cache at 13,500’, that would be just fine. Everyone has been working so hard and so well that some tent time is probably in order. Even, I am looking forward to a rest day soon.
And we’re all looking forward to some better weather. Our peek at the mountains surrounding us last night just made us want more.
Oh, and in case you were wondering what was on the menu today. Scrambled eggs, hash browns and bacon for breakfast. An assortment of Indian food, served on a bed of rice and chicken, followed by a nice pudding for dessert. Mmm.
That’s it from 11,200’ camp. Good night.

RMI Guides
Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

I did this route in Juky 1970 with Ray Genet. Good luck and be safe!

Posted by: William Dailey on 5/25/2017 at 5:18 pm

Keep up the good work, I am simply “blown away” by your accomplishment so far,  with love,
NeeNee, JT’s grandma

Posted by: carol m smith on 5/25/2017 at 12:36 pm

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Arrive at 11,200’ Camp

Another cloudy, snowy day greeted us this morning but didn’t stop us from pushing on. Typical of weather on the Kahiltna Glacier, there was enough new snow and poor visibility to make the going difficult, but certainly not enough to call it a storm day and relax in the tents.
Upon reaching camp at 11,200’ the sun broke through and we were treated to our first sunshine of the trip. What a nice welcome.
The sun sticks around late here, and we’ve enjoyed every bit of it, hanging out in the Posh for a couple hot drinks and sharing stories.
Tomorrow we look forward to our easiest day when we just need to retrieve the cache we buried at 10,000’.
The forecast calls for a little storm to brush by us tomorrow or the next day, but I don’t see any sign of that yet. If it does, we’ll just dig in and enjoy a rest day I guess.
Everyone’s climbing super well and in good spirits.
Good night from 11,200’.

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Cruise to 9,600’ Camp

Two days of carrying huge loads is finally over. We have single carried to Camp 2 at 9600’ and are ready to start packing lighter loads as we begin the routine of making double carries to get all our gear and food up the mountain.
What has impressed me most about this team is not just their strength, but their ability to endure and toil under mammoth loads without complaint. This is a special group.
Our weather has been snowy, but not bad enough to keep us in our tents. That said, we did set up our Posh House this afternoon which serves as our cook tent and dining room in one. It’s warmth and comfort allow us some fun and social time that provides a really nice balance to our climbing.
And what was on the menu tonight? Burritos with all the fixings. Yeah, we eat well up here. We sure as hec deserve it.
Ok. That’s a wrap for the night. Tomorrow we move to 11,200’ camp, if the weather gods allow.

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

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Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Fly to Kahiltna Base Camp

May 20, 2017

We were all excited at breakfast with the thought of flying on to Denali today. With cloudy weather in town nothing was certain, so when the flight service greeted us with a big thumbs up, we jumped into action.
When we hit the glacier the team climbed like they were born to do it. We had a flawless climb to camp, without any of the hiccups that are just normal as we get our feet wet starting out on a big expedition with the loads we’re sporting. This sure made carrying these outrageous loads easier.
So now we’re in the tents resting up for another big day. The crew is psyched to get up to camp at 9600’, and has certainly demonstrated the strength to do it.
I’m lucky to be in the company of such a strong, nice bunch of climbers.
Talk to you from 9600’.

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale an JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team

Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Prep and Pack in Talkeetna

May 20, 2017

A visit to the National Park Service to sign in for our expedition followed our team meeting this morning. Good stuff was covered at both get togethers, and set the tone for a safe, fun, and otherwise successful trip.
And then the work began, starting with checking the ton of gear we all have, the group gear and food we’ll be taking, and packing all this stuff up so we can actually move someplace tomorrow. We certainly couldn’t have fit more into the day.
As we were working, the clouds of the morning finally gave way to clear skies this evening, just in time for us to enjoy a last dinner together under an Alaskan sun that never really sets. Halibut, reindeer meatloaf and local brews were on order - menu items we’ll not see for some time.
We’re all really enjoying one another’s company already, and I look forward to starting our climb in the morning, provided the skies stay reasonably clear overnight.
We’ll be in touch tomorrow, hopefully from the Kahiltna Glacier.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Wishing the team good weather tomorrow.
Wanted the team to know Tommy makes the best pizza!
We love the reports!
Love to Tommy and Alex
Aunt Elisa and Uncle Garrick

Posted by: Aunt Elisa and Uncle Garrick on 5/28/2017 at 5:48 pm

Hello JT,
Looks like you are making great progress! I sent the blog to the entire fam, so we are all checking the blog daily and talk about your progress constantly.

I am so grateful for this blog. It really helps to alleviate the mom worry :)

Good luck to you and all your team. Sounds like you have a wonderful group!

Love you,

Posted by: ellen smith eaton on 5/25/2017 at 8:29 am

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