Entries By dominic cifelli
July 1, 2022
Thursday, June 30, 2022 11:25 pm PDT
Another beautiful day, but this was an easy one. We just rested and solidified our acclimatization today. And ate and ate and ate. It was great to see Andy’s RMI team come back into the camp at 14,000 on their way lower. We congratulated them and wished them a safe journey out.
In between afternoon naps, the team roped up and walked to the “Edge of the World” overlooking the Kahiltna Glacier’s NE Fork. Camp at 14,000 is in a broad and mostly flat basin, but at the edge, there is a fairly breathtaking view straight down… seemingly for miles. The gang enjoyed watching clouds race up the face and catching glimpses of the Cassin and West Rib climbing routes. Back at camp we had dinner in calm sunshine and prepared for the big move up to 17,200 ft.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
June 30, 2022
Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 10:32 pm PT
This was a big and beautiful day on Denali. Sunny from start to finish with barely a puff of wind all day. So we made good use of it. We were up at 7 and out of camp by 8:50 in the morning shadows. We powered on up the hills just out of camp that steepened to headwalls a few hours along. The team did great in managing the fixed ropes on the steep ice leading to the crest of the West Buttress. We were at the top of the ropes by 12:15 PM where we took a short break looking out over about half the planet. We proceeded up the ridge for some interesting climbing, putting our hands on clean granite while our crampons worked up firm snow. At 16,600 ft -the base of “Washburn’s Thumb” we declared victory and dug a cache for the supplies we’d carried. We made our way back down, slowly and carefully, reaching camp at 14,000' about 7 and a half hours after we’d departed. Just in time for a pre-dinner nap. The team was excited to hear of Andy Bond’s team tagging the top in perfect conditions today. We look forward to seeing them back down at 14,000' tomorrow. We’ll be resting and getting ready to move up to 17,000' when we get the opportunity.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
Way to go team!
Diana and Tom
Posted by: Diana Weiss on 6/30/2022 at 9:27 am
Amazing progress everyone!
You are all AMAZING!
Posted by: Margaret Nolan on 6/30/2022 at 9:07 am
June 29, 2022
Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - 9:51 pm PT
We did our “back-carry” today. Our cache above Windy Corner only took about twenty minutes to walk down to and an hour or so to walk back with. So we got that done in the mid morning hours before the sun got too intense. Much of this first full day at 14,200' was a rest day. We did a short training session in the afternoon to review techniques we’ll use on the fixed ropes protecting the steep terrain between 15,000 and 16,200 ft. The weather was even better today than yesterday… calm and sunny throughout. Tomorrow we are hoping to carry supplies up onto the West Buttress.
Jim says, “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, SHARON!!”
Aww, Jim! You’re a keeper! And Happy Anniversary!
We daily are following you and your team’s awesome adventure!
Keep up the good work!
Diana and Tom
Posted by: Diana Weiss on 6/29/2022 at 10:08 pm
Hey, Jim. Happy Anniversary to you, almost on top of the world!!! So proud of your accomplishments! You made Sharon’s day!!! Love, your sister!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 6/29/2022 at 3:45 pm
June 28, 2022
Monday, June 27, 2022 - 10:52 pm PT
This was a fine day of climbing. We were up at 5 AM and eating, packing and getting ready for almost three hours. We pulled out of 11,000 at 7:50 AM. There were steady breezes but it wasn’t particularly cold as we went up Motorcycle and Squirrel Hills in the shadows. It was blue sky overhead today, so it was definitely one of the nicer days we’ve had (though none have been bad). Sitting in the sunshine at Windy Corner, we could clearly see the Tordrillo Mountains anchoring the Alaska Range to the Southwest. Most eyes were on Mount Foraker though as it seems to get bigger every time we see it. We were around the corner without any difficulties and then out of the wind as we made our way up into Genet Basin. We pulled into the camp at 14,200 ft to join Andy Bond’s RMI team (who are several days ahead of us) and practically all the other teams on the mountain. We’d made it up in five and a half not too hard hours. Despite the fact that we were working at altitude to build a camp, conditions were quite calm and easy, so the work wasn’t too bad. We climbed into tents to hide from the sun and took our customary afternoon naps. The team finished dinner (mac and cheese) which is always a good sign. Tomorrow is an easier day -by design- just a short walk down to pick up our food and fuel above Windy Corner.
Cheering you on and enjoying your adventures!!!! Kudos to all of you, and Jim, for your perseverance and energy!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 6/29/2022 at 6:40 am
June 27, 2022
Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 9:56 pm PT
A full night’s sleep was had by all. We got up for a leisurely breakfast at 8:30. Followed by a leisurely lunch at 1 PM. And there were naps. Our run of good luck with the weather has continued. It was partly cloudy today with some breezes blowing but it hasn’t been stormy at all and the forecast continues to be relatively stable. There are very few teams here at 11,000 now as new arrivals to the mountain taper off with the end of the climbing season in sight. We were happy to have Hannah Smith’s successful team pass through in the early morning hours as they made their way to the airstrip.
All in all it was an excellent rest day and the team is ready for the big move to 14,000 ft.
June 26, 2022
Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 10:04 pm PT
We did another 5 AM wake up. It was cool in the morning shadows, but not uncomfortably so. Breakfast fortified us for a 7 AM departure up the steep Motorcycle Hill. To finally be in crampons rather than snowshoes felt great. Our first rest break -midway up Squirrel Hill- gave us brand new views of the Peters Glacier and Denali’s Northwest Buttress, in addition to ever closer views of the formidable granite forming the end of the West Buttress. We finished off Squirrel and came onto the “Polo Field” below the end of the Buttress. One more pull got us to the saddle below Windy Corner where we took a break before tackling the corner itself. The Corner is always exciting, traversing steep slopes with huge chunks of granite just above us and crevasses just below… all while trying not to stare too long at the Kahiltna Glacier far below, or at Mount Hunter and Mount Foraker in all their glory. Finishing the Corner leaves one looking straight at Denali’s South Peak for the first time. We cached food and fuel just beyond the corner, spending about 50 minutes there at 13,500 ft before starting down. We actually walked down into a layer of wildfire smoke that had moved in. Luckily the smoke didn’t stick around for too long. We were back at camp at 1:30 PM and diving into the tents shortly afterward to get out of the intense high altitude sun.
It was a good day of climbing and we’ve had a few now… so tomorrow looks good for a rest day to solidify our acclimatization before moving up.
What an adventure!!! Go, team, go! Cheering each and every one of you on, especially Jim! Such an amazing experience!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 6/26/2022 at 1:26 pm
June 25, 2022
Easy day today! We were up at 5 AM on another fine weather day at 11,000 ft. Shortly after 7 AM we started walking downhill to retrieve our cached food and fuel at 9700 ft. The low clouds had cleared out overnight and so as we came close to Kahiltna Pass at 10,000 ft we could see well out into the tundra and an endless series of lakes and ponds down in the lowland. It took just over a half hour to reach our cache. Thankfully the ravens hadn’t disturbed it (they’ve been known to end an expedition or two) and we dug it up and loaded up. We got back up the hills in about 2 hrs. During the day it was worth doing a little review and practice with avalanche beacons, some discussion of crampon and climbing techniques and a refresher on handling the ice axe.
Tomorrow, the game changes a little as we take on steeper and more serious terrain. Out of the snowshoes and into the crampons. With all of that training we managed to fit in some excellent naps as well. After dinner and storytelling, we got our packs and sleds ready for a carry tomorrow.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
Checking in on the blogs daily and cheering you all on!
Posted by: Diana Weiss on 6/25/2022 at 8:05 pm
WHAT AN ADVENTURE!!! Kudos to all…
Posted by: Ellis I. Richman on 6/25/2022 at 3:26 pm
June 24, 2022
Thursday, June 23, 2022 9:41 pm PDT
We made the big move from 8,000 to 11,000 ft today. This was on mostly familiar terrain for us, of course. But the unfamiliar parts brought us into a whole new world. We set out at 5:30 AM from the base of Ski Hill in perfect conditions for mountain climbing. It was cool, shady and calm and the snow surface was frozen up nicely. We cruised right on past our food and fuel cache from yesterday and reached the head of the 46-mile long Kahiltna Glacier. What remained was a little steeper terrain on a feeder glacier, but we managed that hard work without any trouble and pulled into camp at 11 AM. Things had clouded up a little, which was a good thing, keeping the sun off us as we did the hard pull into camp. It was nice to be greeted by Andy Bond and his RMI team, enjoying their rest day at 11K. We set into the hard work of building a new camp at a new elevation. The clouds began to fade, and we were stunned at the beauty of our surroundings. Whereas the scenery from within the valleys has been great, now that we are getting up a little, we can start to see out. The glacial ice surrounding us is endlessly fascinating with giant walls and towers pitched at impossible angles. We napped away the intense sun that came with the afternoon. Dinner in a new camp with a new view was excellent.
Tomorrow we’ll go back down for our supplies.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
June 23, 2022
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 - 9:43 pm PT
We set out at 6:30 AM today for a carry of food and fuel. Skies were clear and winds were calm as we walked through the early morning shadows up Ski Hill. Ski Hill wouldn’t actually have been such great skiing with about a half dozen crevasses opening up, but it wasn’t bad for walking. We enjoyed great views of Denali’s steep South Face and of the rocky southern aspect of Kahiltna Dome. Our loads were considerably lighter than those we carried yesterday and we made good time. The terrain got easier as we cruised along the plateau before Kahiltna Pass. We cached at 9700 ft at about 10 AM, burying the supplies deep enough to thwart the ravens. It took just over an hour to descend to camp, by which time the sun was getting quite strong. We did a few camp chores before diving in the tents to snooze the afternoon away. It was burrito night on the Kahiltna. We filled up and most of the team was getting ready to turn in -under skies that had clouded up- by 7:30.
The plan is to move on up to 11,000' Camp tomorrow if the weather cooperates.
June 22, 2022
Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 10:02 pm PT
The alarm rang at 12:30 AM today. We sprang right up, ready to escape basecamp and truly get this expedition underway. Skies were clear -which was exactly what we were hoping for in order to get the glacier surface well frozen. Travel is easier when walking atop the snow rather than sinking in, travel is safer when the snow bridging crevasses is frozen solid, and travel is more pleasant when it is cool. We dressed up, had a breakfast together and then we split up to knock down tents and get geared for travel. There is plenty to do on such a morning. Especially the first morning for a team. We were still getting ready three hours later and finally the rope teams started moving at 3:40 AM. We began by going downhill to the main Kahiltna Glacier. It was hard work, trudging along on snowshoes under heavy packs and pulling fully loaded sleds. But it was made pleasant by the incredible scenery - it was particularly beautiful seeing the colorful early morning sunshine lighting the upper slopes of Mt. Foraker. We met a handful of guided teams “heading for the barn”. They’d been successful in reaching the top and were excited to be in the final stretches. Always enjoyable for the guides on our team to see friends from other companies and other continents.
Progress was steady and conditions were good enough. The glacier has obviously lost a lot of snow in recent warm and dry weeks and so crevasse bridges were sagging, but workable. We pulled into our intended camp at the base of Ski Hill (8000’) after about six hours. There was a fair bit of work -as always- to dig a new home in the snow, but we got it done and we’re able to dive in the tents so as to get some well earned naps and some time out of the sun. By our dinner in the dining tent, snow clouds were pushing in from the north and spitting moisture our way. Temperatures were on the chilly side as we did final chores and turned in for the evening. We hope to do a “carry” tomorrow, if given half a chance.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn