Entries By dominic cifelli
July 6, 2021
Monday, July 5, 2021 - 9:50 pm PT
Score one for the weathermen. They weren’t kidding about this storm. It is real. Came in during the night and by morning it was snowing and blowing and we couldn’t see much. There wasn’t any question of moving camp up to 17,000 ft. In fact, we retreated somewhat. Just after breakfast, RMI Guides Dominic and Matt geared up for the toughest of missions. They trudged out into the teeth of the storm to climb up to retrieve our food cache on the West Buttress. Yes, we were proud to have just placed it there two days ago, but now we can’t afford to be separated from those supplies should avalanche conditions set up in the coming days… which seems likely. The guys had hard going, breaking trail in rapidly accumulating snow. At the 16,000 ft ridge crest they were dealing with winds easily in the 50 mph range, the kind that sound like jet engines even from way down here at 14k. We had plenty strong winds in camp, but of course we were in shelter and comfy, warm and dry. Dom and Matt grabbed the cache and bolted safely back to camp in a total of four very difficult hours. But their work significantly eased our ability to meet our new primary goal: riding out the storm.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
On the edge of my seat awaiting your next update. Stay safe, all!
Posted by: Susie Lambert on 7/7/2021 at 3:59 am
Kudos to Dom and Matt for their sprint to recover the cache on the West Buttress!
Hope that the storm abates and progress continues toward 17K.
Posted by: Joseph P McEttrick on 7/6/2021 at 9:44 am
July 5, 2021
Sunday, July 4, 2021 - 9:47 pm PT
Our team took a holiday today! We slept in and breakfasted slowly as the sun washed over camp at 9:30AM. As predicted, conditions at 14,000 were calm today while winds appeared to work over the summit. We enjoyed our rest but it was a bit of a tough day for morale. A number of the remaining teams on the mountain are in the process of quitting and going down without the summit. The forecasts are calling for a progression of storms to roll through in the coming week. We’re hoping the forecasts are wrong… but clouds are building up again this evening. It was already going to be tough to see the fireworks with twentyfour hour daylight.
Happy Independence Day from the highest mountain in the land.
July 4, 2021
Saturday, July 3, 2021 - 9:15 pm PT
There was still a big cloud cap on Denali this morning, but at 6AM the winds didn’t seem too bad. There were clouds in every other direction as well, but we were mostly looking up at the West Buttress as we ate breakfast and pondered a carry. It seemed worth a shot. We pulled the trigger and left camp just after 8 AM. It was colder this morning than it had been… not extremely cold, but colder than we’ve yet experienced on the trip. Our tracks -and anyone else’s- from yesterday were gone, so we had the added challenge of trail breaking in a few inches of new snow. Even so, we made steady progress upward. But the cloud cap made steady progress downward, so we were bound to come together. We were in murk and light but cold winds by the base of the fixed ropes. Which all made for a cold intro to climbing the steep, icy rope section. Thankfully, the winds were blowing from behind us and so we stepped into much needed calm at our destination, which was just perfectly in the lee and sheltered by the crest of the West Buttress. It was wonderful to hit our 16,200 ft target, but the clouds hid the grand views. We quickly cached supplies and geared up for a descent facing into the cool wind. A careful descent got us to 14,200 ft camp just as the sun came out there at 2:30 PM. The afternoon and evening were calm and easy with occasional snow showers. The storm is definitely easing, but of course they are predicting that another will follow. We’ll rest tomorrow in any case.
Happy Fourth of July, Hahn team!
Did you bring a few fireworks?
Marion & I hope your weather conditions cooperate.
Marion and Joe McEttrick
Posted by: Joseph P McEttrick on 7/4/2021 at 7:47 am
July 3, 2021
The storm that moved in so deliberately yesterday evening seemed to pause this morning. At 6AM it was calm at 14k although we could hear big winds up on the crest of the West Buttress. Cloud was all around us, but it wasn’t doing a lot. We ate a slow breakfast and watched the weather. Having no other appointments or engagements, we decided to walk uphill to attempt our carry of supplies. The goal would be 16,200 ft, the top of the fixed lines. We were underway by 9 AM, by which time it was snowing lightly. Since we had two hours of straightforward uphill trudging before the start of the more complicated climbing, we figured we would give the weather a chance to improve. It did not. We turned around at 15,300 ft with the winds seemingly on the increase up above and snow beginning to fall heavily. It only took thirty minutes to reach camp again.
Winds began to hammer our camp by early afternoon and so we built big walls of snow-bricks to protect tents. Thankfully, the fury was short lived and not all that furious. We got a break by late afternoon, which certainly made dinner a bit easier to enjoy in the cook tent. The storm is still with us at 9 PM, ripping the upper reaches of Denali, but sparing 14 Camp for the time being.
We’ll give our carry another try tomorrow should we get the chance.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
Hello Dave Hahn & Team
Great picture of the camp at 14000!
Is the hump in the background the summit?
Posted by: Joseph P McEttrick on 7/3/2021 at 3:19 pm
July 2, 2021
Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 10:06 pm PT
Today was a simple one. We got up at 6 AM, ate breakfast and put on our spikes for a short walk down to the cache at 13,500 ft. The team loved the views of Mts Foraker and Hunter. The Tordrillo Mountains were clearly visible to the South. Ravens hadn’t even attempted to break into our well-buried cache. We had it out and distributed for carrying in minutes. Then we walked slowly back uphill with full packs, reaching camp by 10:30 AM. Rest and rehydration was in order as we got out of the strong sun and into our tents. A storm was gradually forming, first with winds up high on Denali, then with a steadily lowering cloud cap. This didn’t prevent us from conducting a brief review of the climbing techniques we mean to employ on the fixed-rope section between 15,000 and 16,000 ft tomorrow when we carry high.
July 1, 2021
Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 10:06 pm PT
At long last, we made it from the lower mountain to the upper mountain. The weather was perfect all day long, although forecasts hadn’t given any indication that it might be. It was a bit of work to get packed up and moving out of 11,000 ft this morning… we tend to put down roots, but by 9AM we were stretching the ropes out and walking toward Motorcycle Hill. The snow surface was firm and perfect for crampons. We moved on up over familiar terrain, but this time with unlimited views of tundra and rivers to the north. Views were spectacular as we turned Windy Corner, but of course we couldn’t gaze at them too long -lots of climbing stuff to concentrate on at the Corner. There was little or no wind to be had as we made our way into Genet Basin and the fabled Fourteen Camp at 2:30 in the afternoon. Our expedition experience changed markedly as we hauled through camp. As one of the last guided teams of the season, we’ve been mostly on our own or around one or two other teams at most. It was nearly overwhelming to be seeing so many teams coming and going from 14 Camp. Socially it was exciting -for both guides and climbers- to be seeing friends and co-workers from various companies -many for the first time since before the pandemic. A handful of teams were coming down into camp after summit bids yesterday. Briefly, all three RMI teams on the mountain were in the same place at the same time. The National Park Service B3 helicopter was in action conducting rescues high and low. As we dug in to establish our camp we felt like we’d come into the center of everything. For a short time at least. Many of those we saw will shortly go lower or higher. We still need to drop down tomorrow morning for our cached supplies parked just above the Corner. But tonight we are sleeping at fourteen-thousand-hard-earned feet.
You’re almost there!!! Hope someone brought the fireworks !! Safe travels :)
Posted by: Mom and Cindy on 7/2/2021 at 4:38 pm
Congrats on the 14K level. It sounds like the camp was as busy as downtown Boston here.
The views sound tremendous & worth the effort. Good luck with the summiting.
You can ask Matt McEttrick how Denali compares with his first family climb here in Milton MA
at the top of Great Blue Hill (elevation 635’) overlooking Boston and Massachusetts Bay.
Posted by: Joe McEttrick on 7/1/2021 at 12:47 pm
June 30, 2021
Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 10:12 pm PT
The morning weather looked promising enough for early rising. We launched into breakfast and made the decision to take one last acclimatization day before moving up to 14 thousand feet. That meant that breakfast turned into brunch and that we would spend the day aggressively resting so as to be ready for a move tomorrow. It was generally fine weather down on our part of the mountain and we got in good naps and meals and snacking sessions. By afternoon and evening, clouds were stacking up on the mountains around us but things remained calm at 11,000 ft.
GO TEAM DAVE . Sending Prayers & Best to Ur team ... Take care y’all & Keep smiling !!! Please give our luv to Sanjeev Nagrath —- Rohan, Courtney, Nora , Niki & Anjalika
Happy Day :)
Posted by: Anjalika Nagrath on 7/1/2021 at 8:14 am
June 29, 2021
Monday, June 28, 2021 - 9:59 pm PT
We were up by six this morning, braving the chilly shadows (the sun hits 11,000' Camp at 9:15) in order to get on the trail early. Although it was tough to tell just what the weather was going to do, it seemed there wasn’t much wind evident on the ridges we wanted to be around. After a deluxe breakfast in the dining tent, we geared up for climbing. So nice to be putting on crampons instead of snowshoes, so nice to have an ice axe in hand for the steeper terrain we were getting on. We were able to do our carry without hauling sleds, so -although the packs were heavy- it felt like a day of freedom in some respects. The first hour got us up Motorcycle and halfway up Squirrel Hill. After a long week down in the valleys it was wonderful to have the views from the ridges and rises we were topping. Just about the time when the sun might have hit us and warmed things up, the clouds began to gather, which kept us pleasantly cool. We took a second rest break in the Polo Field and by just after noon we were sitting at a windless Windy Corner. A shorter stretch took us up and around the corner and into our intended cache site. We spent a pleasant hour there at 13,500 ft, getting some good views of the South Peak of Denali and the West Buttress while we dug in and buried our supplies. We worked extra hard to make the cache raven-proof. It then took just ninety minutes to descend with lightened packs to 11,000' Camp -most of that was spent walking in thick cloud. We rested and ate dinner as it snowed lightly through the afternoon and evening. We’d love to move up to 14,000' tomorrow, but we shall see what the morning brings.
Hello Dave & Matt:
My email system has been down for a few days. So I have not contacted you.
You are making progress. Have you made it up to the 14,000 feet level?
I hope the weather co-operates,
Posted by: Joseph P McEttrick on 6/30/2021 at 7:05 am
June 28, 2021
Sunday, June 27, 2021 - 8:18 pm PT
An easy day for our team with mostly sunny and calm conditions. We only needed a few of us to snowshoe back down to 9,500 ft to retrieve cached food and fuel. The gang sorted gear and got ready for carrying up past Windy Corner. We hope for nice weather in the morning for that mission.
“There is no chance, no fate, no destiny, that can circumvent hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul”
The summit is yours, go get it!
Posted by: Bob Telford on 6/28/2021 at 10:48 am
June 27, 2021
Saturday, June 26, 2021 - 10:40 pm PT
The bad weather hadn't finished, but we made our break for 11K Camp just the same. What is Denali without some wandering in whiteouts?
It took about four hours and that put us into 11K at 3PM. So nice to see our friends in Mike Walter's group. We dug in right next door to them. Still light snow falling and a lot of cloud, but we are delighted to have different scenery when we can see it. Tomorrow we'll go back down to retrieve loads.
Hello Dave Hahn. Matt McEttrick & company:
While you are at 11K with deep snow & cold on Denali;
The weather conditions are quite different in the Lower Forty Eight!
In the west including CA, WA and OR temperatures are flirting with
100 degrees F. For the next few days in Boston Ma temperatures
will be in the 90 to 100 degree range! Much of the US has similar
Our best to all! Joe & Marion McEttrick
Posted by: Joseph P McEttrick on 6/27/2021 at 8:11 pm