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Entries By erika birkeland

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Fly from Basecamp, Return to Talkeetna

Hello readers,

What a day, what a day. We woke again to snow and all you can see, white. The forecast didn't call for all this snow and white but it's what we got for 36 hours straight. Hope wasn't lost and the team enjoyed a group activity of stomping out the runway. It didn't look like we would fly but we would at least be ready for those planes. The hours went by and no change. Surely we would spend another night at basecamp...then all of a sudden the clouds started to lift. There was a bustle around camp...planes were coming. The team having done a few false alarm pack ups was dialed. In less than 30 minutes we were fully packed up waiting next to the airstrip for our plane. It is a whirlwind experience to be one second in your sleeping bag on the mountain and the next loading a plane to take you off. In no time we were back in civilization, stinky, tired, and a few shades darker from the sun. A long shower, a hot meal not cooked over the XKG stoves, and a mattress you don't have to blow up later, we are new people. It's been an amazing trip full of ups and downs and always lessons learned about ourselves. We are grateful to be back safe and already look forward to our next adventures. 

Thanks for following along! Till next time,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Thank you for helping to keep molly and the rest of the team safe.  She had nothing but glowing praise for all of you. Very much appreciated!!!  It sounded like a great adventure.
Thanks again!!!!

Posted by: Todd Wardwell on 6/5/2023 at 2:51 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Continue to Wait for Break in Weather

Saturday, June 3, 2023 - 9:14 pm PT

It's us again,

We woke to snow and it hasn't stopped since. Needless to say no planes came to pick us up. Morale is holding but we are getting a bit antsy as a team. There has been lots of laying down. Backs are sore, legs restless, minds are going stir crazy. It's only been a couple days but our exit is so close. Tomorrow may be better for weather, so fingers crossed its clear in Talkeetna and clear here so we can hop on that plane and get some much needed showers.

Till than we lay once again in our sleeping bags listening to the pitter patter of the snow.

Holding strong,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Hey Bethany. Know you are ready to roll… maybe call an Uber!  Mom is good for it!  I will venmo the money.
Love M❤M

Posted by: Jan L. Gray on 6/4/2023 at 12:26 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith and Team Waiting to Fly

Hello readers,

We woke with hopes of people flying. It snowed over a foot during the night. A light fluffy snow, good for skiing. The clouds lingered and the sun tried to poke out here and there. The once fluffy snow soon turned into nice sticky snow for snowman making. In order for Plane to leave or arrive the runway needed to be stomped down so the planes didn't get stuck. All of basecamp came together on skis and snowshoes to consolidate the snow for the planes to land safely. By late afternoon, the plane that slept overnight revved up its engine and flew away. Five K2 Aviation planes made their landing and two RMI teams made it off. Before four of those planes could U-turn back the clouds rolled back in, and we were told they would try again tomorrow.

Snow began to lightly come down as we got back in our tents and ready for another night. Fingers crossed Saturday clears up and we too can fly off This mountain.

Still at Basecamp,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Bags - we miss you and can’t wait to see you! Much love, Enzo and Liv

Posted by: Olivia on 6/4/2023 at 7:28 am

We love you Shihan (Eva)! We have enjoyed being on the journey with you and your team. Cheers to snowman making and the beauty of the journey and the views around you. Excited to see you home safe soon. Much love to all from The Fox Family

Posted by: The Fox Family on 6/4/2023 at 7:03 am

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Crossing Fingers to Fly

June 1, 2023, 9:14 pm PDT

Hello all!

After a a quick nap of a couple hours we woke at 10:00 pm and packed up our camp. Just before midnight we began our walk out. During our nap the clouds faded away and gave us a beautiful view out. The air was crisp and so were the views. The moon light the dusk sky and hues of pink and purple faded in and out. We were the only team walking on the Kahiltna. As we took our final steps uphill on Heartbreak Hill we were greeted by a sea of tents at basecamp. Many hopefuls waited to check in and try to fly out. We had a couple hours before check in so we grabbed our sleeping bags and took another quick nap. As teams awoke you could feel the anxious and desperate energy of teams wanting to get off the glacier. Unfortunately, none of the RMI teams were able to fly. One plane even got stuck here at basecamp unable to fly out with the clouds engulfing camp so quickly. Our once clear morning turned into a wet afternoon. We are now curled up in our tents trying our best to stay dry and optimistic as we wait for weather to improve to we can off. A celebratory beer cached at basecamp has helped the mood. If we close our eyes we can pretend we are showered and sitting at the brewery. Weather is suppose to improve by Saturday so fingers crossed for clear skies both here and in Talkeetna. As for now, after only some naps we are pretty sleepy from our walk out. 

So goodnight all,
RMI Guides Hannah Smith, Devin Guffey, and Erika Birkeland, and Team

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Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Make Difficult Decision to Descend

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 - 10:50 pm PT

Hello trusty readers,

Sorry for the gap in dispatches. Things got a little busy with logistics. We took two rest days at 14,000' Camp figuring out weather and logistics on who wanted to continue up and who wanted to go down. With weather being finicky most of the team decided to focus on getting off the mountain. For those that desired uphill movement it was the weather we needed to figure out. After many ominous forecast with only small windows of calm we decided our best option was to stay together as a team and make our way down the mountain. Its always a hard decision to go down, especially when you still have time. But sometimes, the cards just aren't in your favor. It's been a great trip even without the summit. We have made it back to 11,000' Camp and are taking a quick nap before we make our way to the airstrip. Tomorrow is suppose to be the best weather day so figures crossed we make it off the glacier.

Goodnight all,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hey Hannah and Team,
That is a bummer but like you have always said, “its about the experience!”

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/2/2023 at 4:01 am

To go as far as all the teams went is to say they made it to the top…like many who expressed…thank you for your wisdom in playing it safe. So impressed. Bethany ...you did a spectacular display of strength and determination and so many have expressed how inspired they are of your accomplishments. Looking forward to hearing details.
Love M❤M

Posted by: Jan L. Gray on 6/1/2023 at 2:25 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Carry Gear Above Fixed Lines

Sunday, May 28, 2023 - 8:50 pm PT

Hello readers,

Today we woke to descent weather for our carry. It was cold and crisp with clouds flowing here and there. We took off still in the shadows. In not too long we were in the sun with a breeze. We were one of the first people to leave camp and get to the fixed lines. They were icy but with great steps that made it feel secure. This is a steep portion of the mountain and the team gave it their all. After a several hours we were at the top of the fixed lines. There we decided to cache our gear and use the rest of our energy to get down safely. The clouds finally rolled fully in and snow began to fall. We made it back to camp surrounded by white. It has been a long hard day and we are all ready for some rest and that's exactly what we will do tomorrow.

So good night all,

RMI Guides Hannah Smith, Devin Guffey, Erika Birkeland & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Lookin forward to more good weather updates! Hope that ramen from the last update is treating you well, it’s making me want some ramen too. Can’t imagine it hits as hard in 75°F weather as it does up on Denali, though. Keep goin strong Corey!!

Anna + Bennett (who literally just had wisdom teeth removed but he wishes you the best in spirit)

Posted by: Anna Nolan on 5/31/2023 at 11:35 am

Hey Hannah! Sending Best wishes and Strength and Stamina to You and Team Tatas!!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 5/30/2023 at 3:23 am

Denali Expedition: Smith and Team Prepare for Carry

May 27, 2023 9:00PM PT

Hello all,

Not a whole lot to report today since today was a whole lot of chilling. We took today to rest up and review skills for tomorrow’s carry. It will be our first time on the fixed lines and doing running belays. The team looks ready, along with a bit nervous and excited to go a bit higher. Once again, fingers crossed for good weather especially as the clouds begin to roll in from both above and below.

Talk tomorrow,

Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Anna - great to see you’re on the climb and that team is making good progress.  I know Hannah has it under control!

Posted by: Alex Grumman on 5/28/2023 at 8:53 am

Great to hear all the plans for the next few days, Anna.  Our heartfelt thanks to Hannah for planning carefully and taking weather conditions into such consideration.  Also nice to hear that we aren’t the only parents sprouting more gray hairs and adding worry lines!  Continuing to pray for a safe summit and trip home for all.  Love, Mom & Dad

Posted by: Kathy Hern on 5/28/2023 at 8:19 am

Denali Expedition: Smith and Team Retrieve Cache from 13,500’

It's us again,

Today we slept in and had a casual breakfast before gearing up to retrieve our cache of gear at 13,500'. It was a quick walk downhill. Clouds came and went, and the sun poked out to warm us as we repacked our packs to head back to camp. By the time we were close to camp, the temperatures dropped, and snow began to fall. The afternoon got away from us and before we knew it was dinner time. Ramen filled our bodies, along with hot drinks, and the clouds cleared off for a view of both Hunter and Foraker. The winds are calm compared to last night.

Tomorrow we shall be lazy and enjoy a rest day hopefully with some more good views. Teams are gearing up for moves to high camp. Soon enough it will be our time. For now, we will be patient and enjoy 14,000’ Camp.

Goodnight, all,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

We’re tracking and rooting for you, Corey Nolan!! Love, Liz & Matt ❤️

Posted by: Liz Werenczak on 5/27/2023 at 3:23 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith and the All Womens Team reach 14,000’ Camp

Thursday, 5/25/2023 10:21pm PDT

Good evening,

It was up in the air if we would get to move today. The forecast called for isolated showers and some wind and you just do not know what will come of it. Fortunately for us we woke to calm weather. We made fast work of packing up and tearing down camp. Once again, we conquered Motorcycle Hill and Squirrel hill. By the time we got to the Polo Fields a light snow began but not much more. The storm clouds seem to be stuck on another peak. As we walked further and further uphill they stayed at bay, clouds came and went and slow lightly floated down. Windy corner held to its name, but we pushed through. It was a long and grueling day, but we made it to 14,000’ camp. It feels good to be here even with sore and tired bodies.

Tomorrow we will sleep in!

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Hoping the weather continues to play nice!

Posted by: Burley on 5/27/2023 at 12:42 am

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Have Snowy Rest Day at 11,000ft

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - 10:2 pm PT

Hello readers,

Today we took a rest day. We watched teams pack up as the clouds rolled in and out and snow trickled down. All day snow has pitter pattered against our tents. For most of the day we were engulfed by all white. Teams rolled in from below and from above bundled up and looking a little weathered. The hope is to move tomorrow but the forecast isn't looking the most promising. It would not make sense to journey through snow, wind, and single digit temps to set up a brand new camp. If the weather improves and holds we will move up, otherwise we will weather this storm here at 11,000' Camp. Send all the good weather vibes our way!

Goodnight all,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hey Hannah! I am sending all the good weather vibes you and Team Tata need to climb high!!! All the best!!!
Farmer Dave

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 5/26/2023 at 3:04 am

Sending you all the good weather magic ✨ So proud enjoy every minute!

Posted by: Allie Bonnom on 5/25/2023 at 4:23 pm

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