Entries By chris ebeling
Standing in the Taggert Lake parking lot of Grand Teton National Park, we gather for one of the last morning guide meetings of our AMGA Ski Guide Course. Everybody smiles and chuckles as our meeting leader reads the weather report. Over the last 9 days we have received over 80 inches of snow containing more than 8 inches of water equivalency. The avalanche forecast is high and predicted to hit extreme after a rain event starts this evening. We all talk about dialing back our terrain choices…way back. This storm has been relentless for many days, altering our objectives, creating whiteout conditions to navigate, forcing meticulous terrain selection, and making for some great skiing. We have all learned many tools for creating a positive and safe mountain experience amidst a dangerous snowpack. Today we talk about our tour plan, a planned route up a 3000 vertical foot feature in Grand Teton National Park. Through mapping tools, some math, and a little technology, we know what we’re getting into and have a plan to manage the risks. We talk about who will take the lead for our group on each climb and each descent, as well as our pacing, timing, emergency plans, equipment, and weather forecast. We break our meeting, beacons checked, skins on, click in, it’s time to go skiing!
In February with the help of the RMI guide grant I attended this 12-day AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) Ski Guide Course in Jackson, Wyoming. This is the second course in the four courses and exams that lead to becoming a certified AMGA ski guide. The course covers numerous factors of guiding in the winter environment. Managing terrain, instruction and modeling, and putting clients in the safest, best snow is the primary focus of our techniques on the down. Creating efficient tracks, navigation, and terrain selection is a big focus of our time guiding the climb. We cover many technical factors as well, including adding security in 3rd class terrain using our rope, technical lowers and rappels into steep ski terrain, crevasse rescue on skis, travel with an improvised emergency sled, and construction of winter emergency shelters.
Many thanks to RMI and the RMI guide grant for their financial and mentorship support. Another big thanks to our instructors Christian Santelices and Rob Hess for their dedication to growing the professionalism of our guiding community.
Chris Ebeling has been guiding with RMI since 2015. He grew up in the Northwest, climbing, skiing, and riding around Oregon and Washington before making the move to the Northern Rockies of Montana. He returned from Montana to join RMI, but still returns to Montana to explore the remote corners of his home range during the winter.
July 19, 2016
The Four Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guide Mike Walter reached the summit of Mt. Rainier shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning. Mike reported sunny skies, a cloud deck at 9,000’, and 15 mph winds. The team will spend some time on the summit celebrating before beginning their descent. We will see them back in Ashford this afternoon.
Awesome job!! I can’t wait to hear about it :)
Posted by: Amy Collins on 7/19/2016 at 3:42 pm
Congratulations to Team Red Zone, Maine. And all the clbers and the guides.
Posted by: Bill weeks on 7/19/2016 at 9:53 am
July 15, 2016
The Expedition Skills Seminar - Paradise led by RMI Guide Mike King wrapped up their week of mountaineering training with a successful summit of Mt. Rainier. The team will descend off the mountain and be back in Ashford this afternoon to celebrate.
Congratulations on a successful expedition!
Posted by: Bart Couture on 7/15/2016 at 6:01 pm
Congratulations guys! Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Jill Wachter on 7/15/2016 at 12:57 pm
June 5, 2016
We’re off the mountain and diving to the Anchorage airport. Obviously, we flew off the glacier last night, just before dinner. After some thankless chores of sorting out gear that the team did without complaint, it was off to the Talkeetna Motel where we had to wait again as the owner cleaned out rooms. But still no complaints from one of the nicest groups of folks I’ve had the pleasure of climbing with. Dinner then drinks and merriment at the Fairview Inn. What went on in that fine establishment I’ll leave unsaid. Just know that the two block walk back to the hotel seemed manageable and safe for all. That only half the group made it to breakfast at 9:00 might tell of the fun had that night.
It’s been a tremendous trip with people I’d love to climb with or at least see again. I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing the trip in this way with us. Maybe next time you’ll be part of our group - it’s an amazing experience in an amazing world. It will change your life and be with you forever.
From Alaska this last time, so long.
RMI Guide Brent Okita & Team
Great to hear that everyone made it back to sea level safe! What an amazing trip you all must have had. Along with Joe, I cannot wait to hear the stories you must have! Great job Dawn, so proud of you!
All the best to all team members and keep on climbing those mountains for no one will remember those extra days you spent in the office!!
Cheers from Calgary,
Posted by: Darcy on 6/8/2016 at 7:55 am
Congrats Team! Thanks for keeping us updated Brent; it was a blast (and much needed distraction) following you all up the mountain whilst day-dreaming of alpine starts and fresh Alaskan air from my office here in the gloomy SF! So stoked and proud of you Dawn, looking forward to reconnecting with you and the Rainier team soon and hearing all about your Denali adventure.
Posted by: Joseph Walker on 6/6/2016 at 9:36 am
June 4, 2016
June 4, 2016 - 4:31 pm PT
Our last evening at 11,200’ was all too brief. Walking this morning after what we hoped was our last in an open air Posh, we descended into clouds that lasted the morning. It felt great letting the feet stride out.
By 11:00am we were at Basecamp, in a complete whiteout! So much for flying out this morning. Thankfully, our job of carrying these huge packs and moving is finally over.
With no immediate optimism for a break in the weather to fly out, we did what just felt right, and set up the Posh Tent. Snacks were shared, but hugely, Geoff had cached a case of Alaskan Amber to celebrate our safe return. What a treat!
After word from Basecamp Lisa of clearing conditions down glacier, we’ve rallied our gear in place, all except for our Posh. We’re back here now, everyone sacked out and recovering from a short night and a few jam packed days.
Conversation floats in for those of us not snoring away or fatigue, as does the sounds of the famed guide Vern Tejas’ ukulele.
Things are looking better around here. There’s still hope we might have a big steak and fresh veggies for dinner tonight. I’m betting we’ll be out for a late dinner and you’ll be hearing from your loved ones soon. Until then, I might join my teammates in some much needed rest.
A tout a l’heure,
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and the team
On The Map
Wow! You all came down Fast! Hopefully the weather gives you an opening and you are off the mountain by the time you read this. Awesome Climb!!!
Posted by: Dave on 6/5/2016 at 3:16 am
June 3, 2016
Hi, it’s Brent Okita from the RMI Denali trip. I have good news to report. We are back in camp at 17K after a successful summit bid. We all did super well and conditions were feasible. We got a late start because we had some clouds and a little bit of snow last night. We managed to slip one in. It was a warm day and the wind was minimal, which was great. It followed us all the way to 17K from 14K, which was just beautiful. People are sacked out right now. It’s about 1:30 a.m., and we just got the chores all done and excuse my gravely voice, it just gets that way sometimes. We’re planning on heading down to 11,000 feet tomorrow. Get in a little bit of a nap and then changing onto a nighttime schedule and heading down to basecamp and hopefully fly off this mountain here soon. All right, I’ll have more info when I get it. Bye-bye.
RMI Guide Brent Okita calls in after successful summit!
Congratulations to Mike and team! Awesome accomplishment! Glad you’re down safely and partaking in well-earned libations. See you soon, doc.
Posted by: Frank Marini on 6/5/2016 at 5:35 pm
Go Dawn, Brent, and Christina!!!! So proud of you all, and the rest of your team, too! We have been reading each post, enjoying this journey from NYC. You must be exhilarated and exhausted. Can’t wait to hear all about it. Safe return home. Congratulations!!!
Xo Lindsay and Steve
Posted by: Lindsay on 6/4/2016 at 6:51 pm
June 2, 2016
June 1,2016 - 11:21 p.m. PDT
Hi! We are checking in from our high camp at 17,200 ft. on Denali. We had a good move up here today and are hoping to make our summit attempt tomorrow. I’m going to keep it short because it’s late and time to get some sleep so we can hopefully make it to the summit of Denali tomorrow.
I will check in again tomorrow.
RMI Guide Brent Okita and team
On The Map
Best of luck to you all. Stay safe.
Posted by: Randy Salo on 6/3/2016 at 7:49 am
Go Denali Dawn and team. We are all proud of you. Push the summit, give her your best go, she is calling you !
Posted by: Tom S on 6/3/2016 at 2:53 am
June 1, 2016
May 31, 2016 - 10:03 pm PT
Finally, a day of rest. Smoked salmon, toasted bagels and cream cheese served at the civilized hour of 10:00 set the tone for the day. Our communal get together then lasted to noon. What we all talk of who knows, but obviously we enjoy each others company.
Speaking of which, I thought I might share a small glimpse of who this team is that you’re following.
I’ll start with the lady from NYC. A social live wire who keeps things fun in the Posh and can climb with the best.
Of the three doctors in the group, the one from the east coast is not the talkative center of the group, but is so fun to get to know and importantly, never complains, even of our cooking.
The other doc is our elder statesman, older than even me! (OK, by just a year) But with this wisdom comes a love and appreciation of everything and everyone around him.
The third doc is a stud! But his strength is so overshadowed by his generosity and true commitment to the welfare of the group.
We even have two paramedics on board. The first calls Boston home, where he only works four jobs to support his climbing habit. His good heartlessness is reflected in the smile he wears no matter how difficult the going is.
The other medic defines strength. Even after breaking his leg in January, he gets the hard man award. Combined with just being a really nice guy, we’re lucky to have him on the team.
Another incredible member was an air force meteorologist who became a physical therapist. Her strength and will power is obvious any time you pick up her pack. Plus she can run a five minute mile. Amazing person!
Another teammate was here two years ago where weather conspired to thwart his summit bid, but has come back determined and firing on all cylinders. Always good natured, especially when there’s rice one the menu, he is a pleasure to climb with.
Of the guides, our first year assistant is proving his mettal and performing really well in the harsh environment of the Alaska range. Interestingly, all the of us are ski patrollers in the winter.
My first assistant is all one could ask for in a guide up here. Strong, fun, hard working and smart. And a bright spot in the Posh House.
Then there’s me, trying to manage as best as I can and get this old body up the hill one more time.
So that’s it, the team in a nutshell. I trust you’ll recognize your friends, family, loved ones. It’s a special group and I’m excited to be climbing with them.
RMI Guide Brent Okita
On The Map
That Air Force Girl is Tough!! I know you already know that. Keep climbing Strong Dawn!
Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/2/2016 at 3:22 am
We are all watching your progress, great job, great team. FYI Dr P. It is going to be 110 to 113 here in the desert this weekend….
Posted by: Saguaro Surgical on 6/1/2016 at 9:16 pm
May 31, 2016
May 31, 2016 - 12:03 am PT
Our day was a resounding success! A cold, early start had us ahead of the madding crowds as everyone was determined to take advantage of some perfect weather. It had snowed 6-8” overnight, and ours were the first tracks up the pristine slopes leading to the fixed lines and the start of the West Buttress.
By far the steepest climbing we’ve encountered, the Buttress is also the steepest, most dramatic climbing most of our group has ever done.
The team performed well, with us getting a cache at 16,800’ and another one at high camp at 17,200’.
Everyone is pumped by the day and really looking forward to our first rest day.
It’s getting late and cold, so adieu from 14,200’.
RMI Guides Brent, Christina, Chris and the team
On The Map
I look forward to this email every day!!! I am with you in spirit! Climb Strong Dawn!!! :)
Posted by: Dave on 6/1/2016 at 4:12 am
Nice work, Mike P!! It’s great to track your progress. Short hop to 17 and you’re almost there. Wishing you some clear weather. Hang tough, buddy! Frank M
Posted by: Frank Marini on 5/31/2016 at 1:14 pm
May 30, 2016
May 29, 2016 - 11:50 p.m. PDT
Awakening to wind buffeting the tents and spindrift everywhere kept us hunkered down in our bags later than usual this morning. When we finally ventured out at least the sun was out in all it’s glory, which sure made up for the gusts and blowing snow.
A quick breakfast of Pop Tarts and we all rallied from the tents to cut blocks for the wall around our Posh tent that we just didn’t have time to build yesterday. Kind of reminiscent of our morning a few days ago at 11,200’. The team rocked the work we had to do to allow us to get our cool tent fully functioning, A second breakfast of grits and hot drinks fortified us to do our short back carry to pick up our cache at 13,500’. And now we’re set.
We have a carry up to 16,200’ or higher planned for tomorrow, but if the weather doesn’t let us we’ll certainly enjoy a rest day.
The weather forecasts look good for later this week. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Ciao from 14,200’.
RMI Guides Brent Okita,Christina Dale, Chris Ebeling and an incredible team of climbers
On The Map
Be safe Michael! Amazing climb! We are thinking about you!
Love, Lesleigh, Lyndon, William, Lucy and Grace
Posted by: Lesleigh box on 5/31/2016 at 5:26 am
I swear to God, Paul, that I begin hyperventilating with every update! So incredibly excited for you! What an amazing journey! Be safe! We leave on the 11th for our Mt. Whitney climb.
Posted by: Virginia on 5/30/2016 at 8:07 pm