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Entries By dave hahn

June 29, 2015

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

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

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

On The Map

It sure is refreshing to think of snow in the heat and humidity of DC.  If you get chilly along the way just think of us to warm up.  What do you folks do for fun while chilling at 11,000 after the day’s work is done? Peter, if you forget to plant that Swiss flag at the top and take a picture of it, plant it in an olive in a martini when you’re down safe.  Cheers to all, Charlie

Posted by: Charlie Thomas on 6/30/2015 at 7:14 am

Kenny Cornett-  good luck!  Get to the top and be safe!  Love ya- Rhonda, John, Meriden, and Morgan

Posted by: Rhonda roberts on 6/29/2015 at 8:31 pm

June 28, 2015

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Hahn and Team Move to 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

On The Map

not enuff blog not enuff pics! the suspense of the venture is killin us

Posted by: kathie grengs on 6/29/2015 at 10:31 am

For Gary Ross/Team 4 (Hahn Team):

Gary - Take the “Top of the Line” to the Top of Denali.

Rangers Lead The Way!!!!!!!

Chip Sniffin / Executive Director, Sherpa Support Team

Posted by: Chip Sniffin on 6/29/2015 at 8:24 am

June 26, 2015

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

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

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

Love you lots Dad! Happy to hear things are going well for the team so far, despite the earthquake. I can’t wait to hear more stories! XOXO - Kati, Eric, and Jake :)

Posted by: Katherine Giersch on 6/27/2015 at 8:39 am

From Kayleigh: I know you can do it! Go Daddy!

Posted by: Sharon Lewis on 6/27/2015 at 6:29 am

June 26, 2015

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

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

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

On The Map

Gary R and all of you:  Best wishes for great weather, safe travel, magnificent views, a fun time and victory in attaining the summit.  I’ll be following the posts throughout.  - Rob R

Posted by: Rob Reynolds on 6/26/2015 at 8:51 pm

June 25, 2015

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team Ready to Fly

Thursday June 25th 10:00 a.m. PT

RMI Guide Dave Hahn sent us a couple photos as they were embarking on their flight to Kahiltna Base. Once the team is situated on the glacier and moved into their first mountain camp, Dave will check in with us again.

June 24, 2015

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Hahn & Team a Shaky Start in Alaska

Wednesday June 24th 11:15 pm PT

This was a typically full and busy prep day for Denali in many ways… And a little atypical as well.  We had plenty to do, a big and delicious breakfast meeting at the Roadhouse, our informative orientation slideshow with the National Park Service at the Talkeetna Ranger Station and an afternoon of checking and sorting climbing equipment and supplies out at the K2 Aviation hangar.  It was during the gear sorting that the atypical event transpired.  We were working outside, enjoying the summer sunshine.  Airplanes were taxiing and revving their props, trains were going back and forth with blaring horns and mild rumbling… When real rumbling began.  An earthquake struck a little before 2:30 in the afternoon.  It was unmistakable, but also fairly mild where we were standing… even if it was surreal.  We heard reports that it was a magnitude 5.8 quake centered about sixty miles west of Talkeetna, which must mean that our climber-friends and co-workers probably felt it more than we did.  We sure hope that none were in delicate circumstances for the event and that all were ok.  Our team went back to packing and prepping for flying onto the Kahiltna Glacier tomorrow morning.  The afternoon finished with a weigh-in of food and fuel, clothing, tents, ropes, stoves, sleds, shovels, people and a small mountain of miscellaneous ballast for the climb.
We sat outside for dinner, talking over the details of tomorrow and the start of a big adventure, but also simply relaxing and enjoying a memorable summer day before we commit to snow and ice.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

wishing the group no un-expected storms or earthquakes…smooth climbing all the way to the top!

Posted by: kathie grengs on 6/25/2015 at 1:58 pm

That’s a crazy day!  Thanks for the report!  Go team and safe beginnings to all.

Posted by: Laura Taft Paulsen on 6/25/2015 at 1:52 pm

June 24, 2015

Denali - West Buttress Expedition

Mt. McKinley: Dave Hahn & Team Arrive in Talkeetna

June 24, 2015 12:35 am PST

The final RMI Denali team of 2015 came together today.  Six climbers and three guides met up in Anchorage this afternoon, some having come in one or two days previously and some just arriving today after exceedingly long airline extravaganzas.  Luckily, the all-important mountain of baggage that will allow us to safely challenge the real mountain made it onto the Anchorage carousels intact.  We didn’t waste much time at all before boarding our Denali Overland shuttle for Talkeetna.  It was a warm and dry day, as has apparently been the pattern in these parts this season.  Haze obscured the views we might otherwise have enjoyed of the Alaska Range.  Our journey to Talkeetna was broken up by a stop at the big supermarkets of Wasilla to put finishing touches on group and personal food supplies for the trip.  We made good time up through the fresh forest fire scars of Willow, AK that have been making national news in recent weeks and rolled into Talkeetna around 8 PM.  It didn’t take long before we were settled into our comfortable hotel and venturing out together for a relaxing beverage while basking in the strong evening sunshine. 

Tomorrow we’ll get down to the business of climbing North America’s highest mountain.

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team

I will be following the blog every step of the way…good climbing to the group

Posted by: kathie grengs on 6/26/2015 at 10:05 am

Hi Dave -

Just read on your Facebook page about the earthquake up there.  Unbelievable. Hope you and the crew have safe climbing days ahead of you.  Good Luck !

-Larry Seaton

Posted by: Larry Seaton on 6/24/2015 at 8:25 pm

May 19, 2015

Mt. Everest: RMI Guide Dave Hahn Reflects on the Tragedy in Nepal

RMI Guide Dave Hahn reflects on the events surrounding Mt. Everest and the Nepal Earthquake tragedy.

Mount Everest was simply too big for climbing in the Spring of 2015.  The RMI Expeditions team was on the mountain and giving it our very best effort when the Nepal Earthquake struck and changed all priorities.
Six climbers -guided by myself, Jeff Justman and our Sherpa Sirdar Chhering Dorje- made the trek in from Lukla over ten days.  We were one of the very first Everest teams to reach the 17,500 ft Basecamp this season, pulling in healthy and strong on April 4th.  RMI Veteran Guide Mark Tucker, our capable Basecamp Manager, was already on scene along with our Sherpa climbing team and camp support staff.  Frequent snowstorms didn’t keep our team from making a series of acclimatization hikes to local “summits” such as Kalapathar and Pumori Camp One. With great interest, we followed the progress of the Icefall Doctors as they forged a “new” route up the Khumbu Glacier to the Western Cwm.  Our own training and reconnaissance runs through the Icefall were pushed back by repeated snowstorms but we persevered and moved into Camp One at 19,900 ft on April 23.  On the morning of April 25th, the team had climbed to Camp Two (Advanced Basecamp at 21,300 ft) and returned to Camp One ahead of a threatening snowstorm when the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck.  Luckily, due to the poor weather, our Sherpa climbing team had cut short their own climbing mission that morning and had exited the Khumbu Icefall well before the quake hit.  Giant ice avalanches thundered down from seemingly every steep mountainside. 

Fortunately, within just a few minutes via radio, we were able to establish the whereabouts and safety of our entire team. Nonetheless, the reports from basecamp were disturbing in the extreme.  The airblast caused by an avalanche off Pumori had decimated a number of camps while largely flattening our own.  Mark Tucker estimated they’d been hit by a cloud of ice debris moving at perhaps 150 miles per hour.  Even so, Tucker and our Sherpa team engaged in a heroic, prolonged and strenuous effort to attend to the numerous casualties of the disaster.  Those of us at Camp One could do nothing but sit out the snowstorm and hold on for the inevitable aftershocks.  This pronounced and continued shaking made it abundantly clear that a hazardous and time-consuming effort to rebuild the Icefall route was out of the question.  On April 27th, we came back down to basecamp by helicopter.  We were considerably relieved to be safe and united once again, but the scope of the disaster was becoming increasingly clear.  As reports of widespread destruction and disruption across Nepal now came flooding in, climbing mountains quickly receded in importance.  Our Sherpa team was justifiably anxious to be getting back to check on homes and loved ones.  We formally ended our climbing expedition and made plans for heading home.

The three-day walk down toward Lukla allowed ample opportunity for contemplation.  Our emotions were conflicted by the bizarre circumstances we found ourselves in.  In the days immediately following the quake, foreign climbers and trekkers had quickly fled the Khumbu Valley, leaving it blissfully quiet.  As much as we enjoyed the solitude, we each were aware that we were seeing the beginning of the financial disaster that would inevitably follow the natural disaster.  Tourism is virtually the only source of revenue in rural Nepal.  We tried to reconcile the absolute beauty of the setting, still majestic with snow-topped peaks and magical with blooming rhododendrons, with the tragedy on display in the villages.  We walked through funeral ceremonies and past ruined stone homes and lodges.  Locals still greeted us with a warm “Namaste” even as we learned from our Sherpa staff that homes and businesses in these still-picturesque villages were destroyed and that insurance for such losses did not exist.  Then we were down to Namche and Lukla and naturally our focus shifted to getting ourselves out to Kathmandu.  We were simply thankful that facilities like the airports seemed to be getting back to business as usual.  Convinced that getting ourselves out of Nepal as quickly as possible would be our best service to the Nepalese, we each left the country within one or two days of reaching Kathmandu.  I’m certain we were all relieved to get back to the safety and comfort of our homes… but none of us could truly leave behind what we’d seen and experienced.  The aftershocks continued and we were all acutely aware that the 7.2 quake on May 12th had scored a direct hit on the villages of our own Sherpa/Nepali expedition staff.  Previously weakened structures had come down completely and entire villages were ruined.  We are each now struggling from afar to find ways to help those who’ve helped us so much.  It is quite a different mountain than the one we set out to climb back in March… but it is a worthy struggle nonetheless.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Namaste from Truchas. Having twice trekked in the Khumbu, climbed Pokalde & Imja Tse, and was involved with the Friends of Shanta Bhawan clinic, I have strong affection for the people of Nepal, particularly the Sherpas. For anyone who is considering making a donation I most highly recommend the American Himalayan Foundation (www.himalayan-foundation.org)as an organization that will properly direct all contributions.

Posted by: Richard Hasbrouck on 5/25/2015 at 9:57 am

So glad that you and your team are safe.  Thanks for sharing your story.

Posted by: Sue DeArman on 5/22/2015 at 12:26 pm

May 3, 2015

Mt. Everest Southside

Mt. Everest: Kathmandu & Beyond

Rain, thunder and lightning continued late into the Lukla night, but we all felt pretty confident that the dawn would bring perfect flying weather… Which it did.  We were up at 5 AM and over to the craziness of Lukla International Airport by 6 AM.  At around 7 or so, a twin engine prop plane came in with the right letters and numbers on its tail and we pushed our way through the crowd to catch our flight.  That flight was blissfully uneventful and by 7:30 we were just another batch of tourists in Kathmandu... Rubbernecking from our van to catch whatever signs of quake damage we could see on the way to our comfortable hotel.  A casual observer could easily go unaware of the tragedy unfolding in the country around us… things are quickly returning to “normal” for those with means in the capital.  The hotel was jam-packed with correspondents, camera crews, diplomats and a few grubby climbers.  We met a number of our guide friends -some of whom had ambitious and worthy plans to go out to remote villages to do what they could to save lives, and some of whom, just like ourselves, intended to get out of the country as soon as possible so as not to require care and feeding from an already over-stressed society.  Our team passed the afternoon resting, cleaning up, exploring and reconnecting.  I was lucky enough to connect with the legendary Miss Elizabeth Hawley for the team’s all important post-climb interview.  As expected, there wasn’t much to relate in terms of climbing goals achieved… none-the-less, we chatted for a delightful -and perhaps a bit melancholy- hour over the continuing challenges of these contemporary Everest seasons.
Back at the hotel, our team assembled for one final evening together, with a couple of toasts and a fine rooftop dinner.  We were not even remotely cold or uncomfortable, we weren’t in danger and we had a rising and beautiful full moon to entertain us.
Tomorrow we’ll scatter to ride a number of bigger and faster aircraft toward our own homes.  Thank you for following along in this challenging season.  We each feel extremely fortunate to have come unscathed through extraordinary circumstances.  To this point, we’ve had the convenience and satisfaction of placing cash directly into the hands of those who’ve suffered… from this point onward, we’ll try to match the generosity of those at home… Making considered contributions to responsible aid organizations benefiting all Nepalis.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Dear Dave, your post have been a blessing to me. I have been praying for all of you, and for the sherpa and their family, also for the people of Nepal.
Have a safe trip back home! God Bless You all, Pastor Sylvia Joplin

Posted by: Pastor Sylvia Joplin on 5/4/2015 at 4:12 pm

Glad you and your team are safe and finally on your way home. Your blog has been extremely informative and I’ve looked forward to reading them and of your previous exploits. You may not recall but back in 1990 as a way to thank the team at VM sports medicine for rehabbing your leg you took a small group of us up Mt Rainier. I was in that group and you had me rope lead behind your lead. I applaud you on all your accomplishments and look forward to reading about many more. Stay safe.

Posted by: greg faulkner on 5/4/2015 at 11:27 am

May 2, 2015

Mt. Everest Southside

Mt. Everest: Hahn & Team Arrive in Lukla

Another surreal day of spectacular hiking and beautiful mountain vistas… mixed with up-close and sad recognition for the cost of lost homes and disrupted lives in the Khumbu Valley.  I suppose it is surreal because we would never have chosen to be “tourists” in a disaster area… But here we are.  We left Namche at around 8 this morning under perfectly blue skies… And fervently hoping that this meant that the fixed wing planes were coming and going freely from Lukla… Dispersing the crowd we’d heard so much about.  The first part of the day was spent in the forests… Where there was little sign of the earthquake.  But the bigger portion of the day was spent in the succession of farms and small villages in the valley bottom outside the National Park boundaries.  Of course, many houses and buildings were untouched… but a significant number were cracked and damaged beyond reasonable repair.  Very few had collapsed… And we were told that there had been few injuries and few deaths in these areas… Probably because Sherpas would have been outside and working hard at midday when the quake struck.  And sure enough, the phenomenally strong work ethic in the area had men out moving rocks, plastering and repairing damage wherever possible when we strolled by.  People without any form of insurance stood in front of ruined structures, in this fabulously beautiful setting, and smiled and bid us “Namaste” as we passed.  Those that we knew, asked us first if we were all ok before acknowledging that they themselves would need to start over completely.  We walked until about 2:30 PM to reach Lukla just as the raindrops began to fall.  The town and the airstrip appear largely intact… And thankfully, the crowds (mobs…as we’d heard them described a few days ago) seem absent.  So far, so good with our plan for coming down the valley slowly so as to allow things to normalize in front of us.
One of our Sherpa team startled me today as we took tea in his sister’s place in Monjo… He thanked me for saving his life.  I was baffled and embarrassed until he explained that my decision (which had actually been made in consultation with Jeff Justman and Chhering Dorjee) to have the Sherpas drop the loads they were carrying for Camp II at Camp I on the day of the big shake had meant they weren’t in the Icefall later in the day at the exact wrong time.  As I say… I was startled… Hadn’t done the math myself.  We’d asked them not to carry on to CII because of the threat of snow and avalanches off Nuptse… Not because of imminent earthquakes.  But I’m now so incredibly glad that they were well down the icefall and safe for whatever reason.  I deserve no credit whatsoever for getting lucky… But our team can take generic credit for having put safety first, once again, and having reaped unexpected benefits.
We are “scheduled” for the first wave of flights to Kathmandu tomorrow.  Perhaps luck will still be with us.

Best Regards,
Dave Hahn

Your team, the thoughtful decisions you make, and your sensitivity to local conditions and customs are all reasons that RMI enjoys such an enviable safety record and remains the gold standard for guided mountaineering. We all join you in your continuing support for the recovery efforts and in keeping the resilient Nepali people in our thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Everett Moran on 5/3/2015 at 10:08 pm

So grateful that all of you are safe and on your way home even though your goal of the summit was not to be this year.

Posted by: Susan on 5/2/2015 at 7:19 pm

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