Entries By dave hahn

Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Backcarry Gear to 14K Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | July 05, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

Saturday July 4th 11:00 pm PT

Our first morning at 14K camp was calm and easy.  We slept in until the sun peaked over Denali’s West Rib at 9:15 AM.  We had a leisurely breakfast in our new POSH dining tent (stolen from Billy Nugent’s RMI Team) and then we geared up for retrieving our cached food, fuel and equipment from 13,500 ft.  That just took us about two hours, round trip, and then the team took it easy for the afternoon.  Billy Nugent’s team made the top yesterday and we were happy to share camp with them for a couple of hours as they passed through on their descent to 11,000 ft.  After dinner, we had a short refresher training session on climbing fixed ropes as of course that is our next goal, to climb the fixed ropes to 16,200 ft.  As usual, we’ll need to see what the weather does… it started snowing again this afternoon. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Mt. Foraker from Mt. McKinley's 14,200' Camp. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Move to 14,000 Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Seth Waterfall | July 04, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

July 4, 2015 1:11 am PST

This was the day.  The weather was a whole lot better than the last few days, but it wasn’t perfect.  A little blustery.  We needed to take advantage though to get out of 11,000’  and up to 14,000’ Camp.  Even having had a handful of teams break trail on the route before we made our effort today, we still anticipated a tough haul with knee deep snow on such steep hills.  Motorcycle took longer than normal, Squirrel took longer, the Polo Fields went on forever, Windy Corner was windy (and it took longer).  It was all pretty tough going until we got around the corner and reached our cache location from the other day.  Finally there was less new snow, less wind and a decent track to follow.  It was still uphill though.  It took us 8.5 hours to cover what should have taken 6 hours, but what a wonderful feeling to roll into 14 Camp after thinking of it so much when we were stuck down below.  We’ve got different and magnificent views now, of Denali, but also of Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter and about a thousand other peaks when the clouds allow.  We did a late dinner after camp was built and then hurried in to the tents for the night.  It is colder up here, and colder still when the sun goes behind the mountain.  Everybody deserves good rest after such a big day. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Climbers on the top of Motorcyle Hill at 11,600 ft on Mt. McKinley.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Smoke & Snow for Hahn & Team at 11,200’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | July 03, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

The wind and snow conspired to make for a tough and noisy night in the tents last night.  A few intrepid souls got out in the storm to dig away the encroaching drifts.  Morning brought less wind, but the snow continued as the guides served breakfast in bed.  It was slightly surreal to have the strong smell of forest fire smoke mixed in with heavily falling snow while camped so far from trees.  Eventually the snow slowed and then stopped, but by that point, several feet of it had accumulated.  The clouds stayed right in on us until about 8 in the evening.  We were enjoying an open air dinner when the mist fell away, the sun came out and everything got beautiful.  The team stayed out well into the evening, staring at Kahiltna Dome, Mount Foraker and Denali’s West Buttress.  Our prospects for going up in the morning were improved as we watched several teams come down Motorcycle Hill, plowing a trail and cutting whatever tension the otherwise suspect snow-pack was under.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn and Team

11,200 ft Camp on Mt. McKinley, AK with Kahiltna Dome in the distance. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Take a Snow Day At 11,200’ Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JM Gorum, Steve Gately | July 02, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

July 2, 2015 12:36 am PST

This day didn’t start out all that bad, but then it didn’t waste too much time getting bad.  It got snowing about an inch an hour by mid morning.  That didn’t stop some of our neighbors from picking up and moving to 14K anyway, but it stopped us.  We didn’t want to risk getting caught at Windy Corner when the wind started.  So it was a quiet day for us, sitting in our tents listening to the snow.  Just about right in the middle of a nice dinner in our beloved POSH tent, a cannon shot of wind hit and ripped the shelter nearly in half.  We sat for a few minutes more anyway, chowing down, looking out the big new vent and wondering who’d be first to abandon ship.  Then it was a mass exodus back to the tents for what promised to be a windy, snowy, stormy night on Denali.  We’ll figure out a different plan for our cooking and dining shelter needs. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Stormy conditions at 11,200 ft Camp on Mt. McKinley, Alaska.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Enjoy Fresh Snow and a Rest Day

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | June 30, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

June 30, 2015 5:46pm PST

Today’s wake-up call was a quiet and windless fall of about six inches of light powder snow. It was our planned rest day, after five busy days getting on and up the approaches to Denali, so there wasn’t any early morning angst as to whether the snow would keep us from our goals for the day.  Today, those goals included a breakfast of bagels and smoked salmon in the POSH tent and a session of digging out camp as the snow continued to fall. We eventually climbed back in the tents for naps and reading.  A few teams came down the mountain today, resting near our camp as they prepared to march on toward the airstrip in the snowstorm. We’ll hope to move uphill tomorrow and we’ll be ready for that, but of course we’ll pay attention to the weather and see what it allows. 

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn and Team

Fresh Snow at 11,200' on Mt. McKinley. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Cache Gear at 13,500’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | June 30, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Monday June 29th 10:20 pm PT

We had a short break from the cloud and snow this morning.  When we got out of the tents, there were actually views to be had in most directions and blue skies above.  Being at 11,000 ft, it was slightly colder than what we’ve experienced so far, but a hot breakfast took care of the chills and got us ready for our carry.  We set out for “Motorcycle Hill” at 9:30.  It was good to be in crampons and carrying ice axes after days of snowshoes and ski poles. An hour put us in the middle of “Squirrel Hill” with great views of Denali’s Northwest Buttress and the Peter’s Glacier.  It began to cloud up as we reached the “Polo Field” off the end of the giant granite towers of the West Buttress.  By Windy Corner we were in light snow, but close to our destination. We dug a deep and raven-proof pit in the snow at 13,500 ft in which to cache the food and fuel we were carrying.  It was an easy climb down with light packs and we walked out of the snow showers and into sunny and warm camp at 11K again by 4:30 PM.  We’ll hope for a comfortable night of sleep tonight as we’ve followed the “climb high, sleep low” rule of acclimatization to altitude.  Tomorrow will be a rest day, as part of that same plan. 

Kryz wishes his dad a happy birthday from Mount McKinley

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI team on Squirrel Hill, Mount McKinley, Alaska. Photo: Brent Okita

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Settled into 11K Camp for an Extended Stay

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | June 29, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 11,200'

Sunday June 28th 10:22 pm PT

Once again, the weather was a little sloppy in the early hours, so we didn’t get out of the tents until the civilized hour of 7AM.  It was still pretty well socked in at 9,500 ft as we ate breakfast, but things seemed workable for moving up.  We were on the go by 10:00 and in our new camp at 11,000 ft by 1PM.  The clouds cleared from time to time, giving us some great views of the end of the West Buttress.  Luckily, clouds hung in there enough to keep the sun off the final steeper hills into camp.  We dug in and got settled in our new home.  It is a relief, after building four camps in four days, to know that we’ll get to stay in this one for a few days.  The afternoon and evening were spent resting and sorting food and gear.  If possible, we’ll do a carry to 13,500 ft tomorrow.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Moving to 11,000' Camp on Mount McKinley, Alaska. Photo: Lindsay Mann

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn and Team Move to 9,500’

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | June 28, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 9,500'

June 27, 2015 10:32 pm PST

We intended to get stirring by about 2:30 this morning, but to no one’s disappointment, that didn’t happen.  It was socked-in and cloudy then with wettish snow in the air.  Likewise at 3 AM, not so good, and not at 3:30 either.  But then things started looking up.  We got up just after five and were climbing by 8:45.  Conditions were once again great for climbing.  With snowshoes on, we stayed right on the snow surface, as did our sleds.  Without too much trouble, we got up “Ski Hill” and hit our intended camp at 9,500 ft around noon.  By then we were in the clouds again and light snow was falling, but we’d gotten high enough to make things cold and so wetness was no longer a problem.  The team all pitched in admirably to build a new camp and then retreated for afternoon naps.  It was burrito night in the POSH tent where we were comfortably seated on snow benches out of the weather. 
We’ll see about moving up to 11,000’ tomorrow if folks are feeling good and the weather gives a break. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Climbers pulling sleds up Mt. McKinleys Ski Hill to 9.500 ft Camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Settle in Below Ski Hill

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | June 26, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 8,000'

Friday June 26th 9:13 pm PT

Our weather took a dive.  But our timing and luck have been pretty good anyway.  We were up at 1 AM this morning and on the trail by 4 AM (getting breakfast and gearing up while tearing down camp takes a while the first time).  The clouds were getting lower and lower until about 7 AM when we were swallowed up by the murk.  Wet snow was falling by 8:30, but luckily we were pulling into our intended camp at 8,000 feet by 9:15.  So we were indeed lucky to get flown on before the weather deteriorated and happy we were able to make use of what otherwise might have been considered a storm day today. 

Just as the snow began to fall, we met up with Mike Haugen’s victorious team on their way out.  Nice to see them, even if just in passing.  Once our new camp at the base of “Ski Hill” was built, we climbed in to rest away the late morning and afternoon.  Dinner was under the shelter of our POSH tent in a well-dug dining/kitchen snow pit. 

Aside from the weather, glacier conditions were quite good for traveling today and we had very few issues with the multitude of crevasse bridges that needed crossing. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Pulling sleds up Ski Hill on Mt. McKinley, Alaska. Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Smooth Sailing to Kahiltna Base

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Steve Gately, JM Gorum | June 26, 2015
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 7,200'

Thursday June 25th 10:15 pm PT

Our exit from Talkeetna was nearly as smooth and easy as our arrival in the Alaska Range turned out to be.  We had our traditional Roadhouse breakfast and then headed for the hangar.  By 10:00 AM we were loading onto K2 Aviation’s ski planes and taking off for the mountains.  We had a couple of good views of Denali and Foraker, the giants of the range, despite a fair amount of cloud and forest fire smoke in the air. 
Basecamp at 7,200 feet on the Southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier was nearly deserted when we came in… just the way we like it.  We set camp, reviewed glacier travel techniques and got used to fabulous views when the clouds lifted.  By early evening a few other guided teams flew in and we chatted with the leaders, since we’ll likely be seeing each other a bit in the weeks to come.  There was a lot to get done on this day- there always is at the start of a big climb.  But we got it done and the team is now resting.  We were early to bed and we’ll be early to rise tomorrow in the hopes of catching easier and safer conditions for travel in the cold part of the day.  From what we could see from the airplane, the first part of our climb will be made easier by excellent snow coverage on the glacier surface. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Views of the Cassin Ridge on Mt. McKinley as an RMI team flies into Kahiltna Base. Photo: Dave Hahn K2 lands at Kahiltna Base on Mount McKinley, Alaska. Photo: Katy Reid

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