Entries By dominic cifelli
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
June 21, 2022
Monday, June 20, 2022 - 10:04 pm PT
Greetings from 7200 ft on the SE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. Right where we wanted to be. We left Talkeetna in two classic ski equipped Otter prop planes and headed into the Alaska Range. Clouds were clearing and the views were stunning. The weather in this section of Alaska has been quite dry in recent months and so there wasn’t much snow left outside the range. We had great views of the giant, striped glaciers like the Ruth and the Tokasitna. We landed uphill on the SE Fork at about 11:15. Avery Parrinello’s successful RMI climbing team greeted us and helped us unload, since our then empty planes were taking them toward Talkeetna and home. We exchanged a few hugs and wished each other well and then our team set to building a camp. It was made just slightly difficult. -putting up tents- by our need to stop every few minutes to marvel at the scenery and scale of everything. Mt. Hunter towers over basecamp, seemingly straight up for miles. Mt. Foraker, at 17,400 ft just across the way, looks impossibly massive and formidable. Once camp was up, we dove into some training and review for glacier travel and crevasse rescue. We covered many topics through the afternoon and evening, aiming to have the team well-informed for travel in the early morning hours tomorrow -when the glacier surface is frozen solid. We ate our first dinner on the mountain in a quickly excavated dining room and then did a few last organizational chores before turning in early (in the still bright sun) for some rest.
Great start team!!! Yifei, you’ve got this!!
Posted by: Michael Freedman on 6/21/2022 at 11:31 pm
So exciting to follow!!! So impressive!!! Go, team, go!! Thinking of all of you and wishing you well. Go, Jim, go!!!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 6/21/2022 at 4:20 pm
June 20, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022 - 11:29 p.m. PDT
We got a lot done today! Lots and lots of work to get gear checked and ready for loading on airplanes, but it was the kind of labor that -- when you get it behind you -- makes you realize that fun is just about to start. It was rainy and drizzling in Talkeetna today, and there wasn’t any airplane traffic to and from Kahiltna Base Camp. The pilots we spoke to said it was only their fourth “down day” of the season -- which is a pretty remarkable testament to the good and stable weather that climbers have enjoyed.
We got started with a fine breakfast “meeting” at the hotel, introducing ourselves to one another. But then we moved out to the hangar to give gear checks and get sorted. We received our briefing from the National Park Service and caught up with current events on the mountain. Finally we weighed and labeled all the loads and with everything ready to go we quit for the day and had a nice relaxing outdoor dinner at the brewery in town.
Forecasts suggest we’ll get lucky in the morning.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn and team
June 19, 2022
Saturday June 18th - 11:52pm PT
The Denali team formed up in Anchorage this afternoon. We flew from Seattle and Frankfurt and Johannesburg and a few other places. Not every single piece of luggage made it through, but we have high hopes for getting it all together soon.
It was cloudy in central Alaska today, but we could see hints of mountains as we drove up toward Talkeetna. We made the traditional stop in Wasilla to round out our expedition food supplies, and then got on board the Denali Overland van once again for the final 90 minutes into Talkeetna. A brief stop at K2 Aviation around 6 PM allowed us to offload gear, and then we checked into our rooms at the Swiss Alaska Inn. The team made the short walk into town to relax with outside beers and pizzas. Town was busy and bustling on this endless summer evening. We went to the banks of the mighty Susitna River to see if Denali was visible, but the clouds stayed put and made us guess at what we were missing.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll meet over breakfast and dive into the details of packing and prepping for our Denali West Buttress Expedition.
Dave Hahn and Team
Good luck to all team members!
Stay safe everyone!
An adventure of a lifetime!
Posted by: Margaret Nolan on 6/20/2022 at 2:04 pm
You Go Jim!
Posted by: Gary Gustafson on 6/20/2022 at 4:36 am
June 15, 2022
The Five Day Climb June 11 - 15 led by RMI Guides Brent Okita and Dominic Cifelli was unable to make their summit attempt due to avalanche danger. The teams enjoyed two nights at Camp Muir with some good weather which allowed for training opportunities.
Photos: Dominic Cifelli
June 7, 2022
RMI Guides James Bealer and Bryan Mazaika led their Five Day Climb teams to the summit of Mt. Rainier this morning. The teams reached the crater rim at 6:15 am. It's a beautiful day with blue sky and no winds. After taking in the views and getting all the photos the team started their descent. They will return to Camp Muir, pack their gear and continue the remaining 4.5 miles back to Paradise. We look forward to greeting them at Rainier BaseCamp later this afternoon where they will celebrate their efforts and good fortune before completing their program.
June 1, 2022
Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 6:39 pm PT
This day won’t be forgotten soon by our team. It was longer than most, to begin with. We were drinking coffee at 10:30 PM and loading the buses at 11. The rough road took us plenty high, but then we were out and trudging uphill by headlight for hours. It was cold and a little breezy, but we were looking at stars… and Jupiter and Neptune. We stopped in a hut long enough to put on helmets and harnesses and then marched up to the snow, where we donned crampons and ropes. The walking got easier on the snow, except it was all getting to the kind of heights that are just plain hard to climb and breathe in. We transitioned onto a glacier, still in pitch darkness. By daybreak the team had reached above 18,000 ft. All of the magnificent volcanoes of Ecuador were lined up for our viewing pleasure. There were plenty of clouds at different levels but it was evident that we were going to get lucky. Things steepened for the final 800 ft to make the team dig down deep for energy. But by 8:40 the gang was on the summit of Cotopaxi at 19,347 ft. 13 of our 18 climbers made the top, along with 6 of our excellent Ecuadorian guiding staff. The team was back at the lodge by midday and packing for departure. By 2 PM we were in our buses and headed for the jets. Now -at 6:30 PM- we’re high over Cuba, pointed toward Miami and a celebration on the water. A big day indeed, much of our team shattered personal altitude records and found inner strength they hadn’t imagined.
May 30, 2022
Today was nice and easy… a chance to sip coffee and stare at the big volcano out the window. It changed every few minutes, with clouds and light increasing, decreasing and doing just what clouds and light always do.
We took it easy to enhance our acclimatization and to prepare for tonight’s climb. There was a small and easy training and gear session out in the grass. But that was balanced by naps and meals.
We’re ready! Awake in just a few hours for our Alpine start.
May 30, 2022
Sunday, May 29, 2022 - 6:33 pm PT
Today we climbed Iliniza Norte to it’s quite pointy summit at 18,818 ft. The entire group made the top in a mere two and a half hours from the hut. We began at 6:30 AM in partly cloudy conditions. It was a little cold and windy at first, on icy and slippery rock and dirt, but things improved. We got amazing views of Cotopaxi and Iliniza Sur, but the rugged rock scrambling required to get up Iliniza Norte kept us well focused on the task at hand. We hit the top at 9 AM and spent 30 minutes before beginning a careful descent. The team moved well, with excellent help from our local guide staff, and we were at the base of the mountain by midday.
We enjoyed a celebratory steak lunch at a restaurant on the way to Cotopaxi National Park and then made our way uphill and into the park to the Tambopoxi Lodge. Clouds cleared from the mountain at sunset and we had amazing views of our big objective of the next few days.