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Entries By erika birkeland

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

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Enjoy Good Weather and Views on Carry

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 - 9:25 pm PT

Hello again,

It was an early morning today for our carry to 13,500' to cache gear. We were the first to leave 11,000' Camp as we headed up Motorcycle Hill. It's not a casual start as it's quite steep and contains some cracks to step over. Once onto Motorcycle Hill, we preceded to go up Squirrel Hill and then walked across some flatter terrain called the Polo Fields. At the other end of the Polo Fields is Windy Corner and that leads us to our cache. It was a fantastic day with good weather and beautiful views. Words and pictures never do it justice. Once we dug our hole and offloaded our gear it was back to camp. It was a long day and deserves a rest before we break down camp and move to 14,000' Camp. Weather seems to be holding with chances of snow but for us some rest will set us up for success later on. Fingers crossed for good weather Thursday on our move. For now we are going to enjoy some down time in our tents and plenty of opportunity for snack consumption.

Goodnight all,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

So glad you all are making good time and having good weather!  I’m thinking of you! 

Posted by: Adam on 5/24/2023 at 1:37 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Enjoy Much Needed Rest Day

Monday, May 23, 2023  - 9:01 pm PT

Hello fellow readers,

Today was our first rest day of the trip and much needed. Our sunburnt lips and face, chaffed hips, and tired bodies needed the well deserved rest. We enjoyed a casual morning with coffee and pancakes at 9:30 am, followed by lots of down time in our tents. The afternoon was spent gathering our group gear piles for our cache tomorrow and reviewing crampon technique for tomorrow's steep ascent up motorcycle hill. The team is ready and psyched to head further up Denali and get closer to being on top. Camp is bustling with more hopeful people. As per usual we have all crawled into our tents to get settled for the night to rest up for tomorrow's cold early start.

Goodnight all,

RMI Guide Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Corey, hope you know I’ve been gloating about you to everyone lately. Went up to visit some Bilodeaus in VT and they’re thoroughly impressed with your expeditioning!!

Also, the Cubs won tonight. May this power you through the next portion of the journey.

Annanana + Bennington (not Bennington, VT though)

Posted by: Anna Nolan Not So Mountain Explorer on 5/23/2023 at 8:03 pm

Glad to read about the rest…now awaiting the rest of story. Go Bethany. You can do this! Love Mom and Dad

Posted by: Jan L. Gray on 5/23/2023 at 7:27 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Retrieve Cache

Sunday, May 21, 2023, 9:40pm PDT

Hello, hello!

Today we woke up to clear skies and chill to the air. The cold is a welcoming feeling after so much heat. We whipped up some bagels then headed back downhill to retrieve our cache. We made quick getting to it and steady work getting back up to camp. After another round of bagels we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon. The sun warmed our tents and dried wet socks before evening showers drifted in. Camp has filled up with more eager climbers hoping for the chance to stand on top of this beautiful mountain. One RMI teamed moved to 14k Camp where another RMI team sits waiting. We are here at 11k Camp with one more RMI team. We have twelve RMI guides currently on the mountain and eight of them are female. It's pretty cool to have so many strong female guides on the mountain at once. Any who, we are all snuggled up once again in our sleeping bags reading books, listening to music, watching TV or eating snacks. It's a fun feeling knowing we do not have to walk anywhere tomorrow and get to sleep in. 

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

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hey Hannah! Tell your team that Farmer Dave said they are Lucky to have you for their guide!! All the best to you and your Team!! Climb Strong!

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

Woo go Corey! So proud of you

Posted by: Mom and Dad Burley on 5/22/2023 at 6:09 pm

Denali Expedition: Smith & Team Move Camp to 11,000ft

Saturday, May 21, 2023 - 10:30 pm PT

Good evening readers,

Today we woke to a wet rain falling on our tents. The plan was for an early start but we postponed our departure by a few hours watching the clouds. After yummy breakfast burritos we began breaking down camp and hit the trail. The team made their way back up Ski Hill on our way to our new home at 11,000' Camp. After walking for a few hours of descent weather we hit a hot pocket that made everyone go into a heat panic. But we persevered and made it to some cooler temps. At our last break the snow flakes got bigger and a chill hit the team but this was short lived and we were back to being hot as we rolled into camp. It was a tough long day with heavy packs but it sure feels good to be here. We made camp, ate dinner and it's off to bed to let the bodies recover. Tomorrow we will back carry down to our cache to be reunited with all our gear and then rest for the majority of the day. Snow falls as we get snuggled in. Frequent taps on tent walls make the snow slide down. We will see how much snow falls through the night.

Good night all,

RMI Guides Hannah, Devin, Erika, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Wow impressive to read and how encountered. Hard to believe hot pockets up in the snowy mountain. Keep up the good work.
Go Bethany Go!! Love Mom and Dad

Posted by: Jan L. Gray on 5/21/2023 at 7:29 pm

Rest up well tomorrow, Anna.  Veggies will be waiting for you when you get back!
Go team, Tatas!!  Keeping all of you in our prayers.

Love you, Anna!
Mom & Dad

Posted by: Kathy on 5/21/2023 at 7:14 pm

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