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Entries By erika birkeland

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Reach Summit!

Summit Day Recap - Monday, May 30, 2022

Things were clear and calm this morning and it looked the perfect day to go for the summit. We fired stoves early, ate breakfast as the sun rose on camp, and packed our bags. We left for the Autobahn, a long ascending traverse from 17,000' Camp to Denali pass at 18,000'. To get there, we walked back into the morning shade which kept things chilly, but overall really pleasant. From Denali Pass, we climbed past Zebra rocks, still warm and pleasant and in the sun now. As we rounded the Arch Deacons Tower, the wind caught us. Probably 15-20 mph, but biting. We covered our faces and continued on. We were able to get a bit of respite from it on the Football Field, and up Pig Hill. The summit ridge had plumes streaming over it and it was touch and go whether we would be able to traverse the last piece of terrain. We tried and the initial piece was windy, but we were able to move through it and as we crossed over the ridge we got some protection. We summitted at 5:15pm, tagged the top and took a couple hasty photos, before heading back down.

Tomorrow we will pack camp and start moving towards the air strip. We'll stop to sleep for a few hours at 11,000' or the base of Ski Hill and then be in Base camp to hopefully catch rides back to civilization the following morning.

RMI Guides Pete, Leif, Erika, and team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Congrats to all !!
Carl, maybe Aconcagua next?

Posted by: Ron Jackson on 6/2/2022 at 3:30 pm

Congratulations to Matt and the rest of the team!

Posted by: Tucker M on 6/1/2022 at 7:00 am

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Make the Move to High Camp

Sunday, May 29, 2022 - 10:27 pm PT

Unlike two days ago, when we woke up there wasn't a hint of wind in sight. We had word from Mike Walter's team that the weather at 17,000' was perfect to, so we launched out of 14,000' Camp in high spirits. It was one of the most pleasant days I can remember on the West Buttress. Temps were comfortable, no wind, and the views unparalleled. It's also some of the most fun climbing. We were at camp by early afternoon, set up tents, fired an early dinner, and congratulated Mike's team as they came back from the summit. Things look really good for us tomorrow, so fingers crossed, we'll make our push in the morning.

RMI Guides Pete, Leif, Erika, and team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

C’mon team! Can’t wait to read the post about the summit! Wishing you good weather and strength. Molta força!

Posted by: Anna P on 5/31/2022 at 5:43 am

Congratulations on getting to 17k! I’m so excited for your hopeful push tomorrow. We’re all pulling for you, sending you positive thoughts and intentions. Keep reaching towards your goals, be safe, be amazing!

Posted by: Patrick Schmitz on 5/30/2022 at 8:19 pm

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer and Team regroup and walk to the Edge of the World

May 28 10:29pm PT

It was a perfect day to rest and regroup from our foray yesterday. The sun was out, temps were warm, and everything was calm. We also got a forecast that looks really promising for the next several days. We took another trip to the edge of the world - last time heat induced clouds were rising up from the glaciers below and it felt like the edge of the world, past which there was nothing, just a white void. Today we could see who down the Kahiltna and get a sense for the sheer scale of it all.

We are headed towards bed pretty hopeful that we are waking to similar weather tomorrow and good conditions to move up.

RMI Guides Pete, Leif, Erika, and team

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Denali Expedition: High Winds Keep Van Deventer and Team from Moving to High Camp

Friday May 27, 2022 10:41pm PT

We had a forecast that was promising. It would be blowing up high in the morning but would diminish and that Saturday looked like a promising summit day. So we woke early, and saw what we expected - winds blasting up high but otherwise clear and blue. We are a quick breakfast, broke camp, and were walking before most other teams. As we climbed a huge plunge of snow left 17 and jetted far into the atmosphere. We were glancing at it wondering how quickly the winds really would die. We were sheltered from it and moved from cold in the shade to very warm in the sun as we climbed the fixed lines. As we needed the top, a full roar made itself heard - wind in the other side of the ridge. We stepped around and into it - maybe 15 mph, not enough to knock you around but COLD. It was going to be a full-fledged fight to keep faces unfrozen, so we made the quick decision to turn back and head for 14 Camp. There it was calm and warm.

Tomorrow looks nice and well regroup and rest from today. We have some hope that Sunday into the beginning of the week will give us a shot.

RMI Guides Pete, Erika, Leif, and Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

We’re keeping track of all of you every day.  What an amazing experience, just seeing the beauty of your pictures and reading how aware and skillful you have to be with Nature especially the great Denali.  I hope you are learning a bit more about yourselves, too.  Much love and prayers for your
safety and well being.  Barbara/Mom

Posted by: Barbara J Corona on 5/29/2022 at 6:55 pm

Go team! Thanks for sharing your daily updates. I hope the weather calms down so that you can proceed. For the football fans amongst you, Real Madrid won the Champion’s league final yesterday against Liverpool, thanks to their amazing goalkeeper Courtois. Weather is amazing in Barcelona (this is for Albert).

Posted by: Imma on 5/28/2022 at 10:56 pm

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer and Team Enjoy a Rest Day

Thursday, May 26, 2022 9:53 pm PST

As we suspected, it was blowing snow off the ridges above us this morning. There isn't much snow available to move, so when you see snow plumes you know the wind is ripping. It sounds like the pattern will change tomorrow so we weren't too bothered. We put some energy into organizing for our move to 17,000', took naps, and didn't mind staring up at the snow plumes above with like minded guides and climbers. Pretty standard activities whe you are at 14,000' Camp.

We'll wake up and hope Denali welcomes us higher tomorrow.

RMI Guides Pete, Erika, Leif, and Team

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Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Repair Gear and Rest at 14,000 ft Camp

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - 10:13 pm PT

As the forecast promised, we watched evidence of wind evolve above us across the Alaska range today, but our home at 14,000' Camp was calm, warm, and quite pleasant. We made the most of it, repairing gear that's malfunctioned, visiting with friends across camp, and napping. Tomorrow is most likely more of the same, so we'll spend time organizing so that when the weather switch flips, we're ready. Yesterday as we headed up, another team that was taking a rest break told us that we "were a Porsche 911 turbo engine". We'll hope to fire that up on Friday.

RMI Guides Pete, Leif, Erika, and team

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Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Climb Fixed Lines, Enjoy Views

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - 11:32 pm PT

Things were pretty perfect this morning to take a burn on the fixed lines. When we move to 17,000' Camp, it will be with just the essentials. We'll leave luxury items, switch from burritos to freeze dried meals, and go with the plan to get the job done and get back down to thicker air. Thus, there really isn't much that we can cache between here and 17,000'. Instead of caching, our goal was to climb to to higher altitude to keep the acclimatization process progressing, and to get a chance to see the fixed lines without heavy packs.  Our packs were light, the sky was clear, and conditions generally calm. We had a wonderful climb up to 16,200', spent a few minutes enjoying the views, then headed back down.

The fixed lines often spark some anxiety: how hard are they, how steep, we can't stop and take a break?!? After a practice run on them those nerves were quelled. Everybody was happy to get a chance with light packs and feel ready to go again, when we move to 17,000' Camp for the summit push. Seems that there is a bit of wind up high the next couple of days so we'll likely wait that out, and then hit the go button when things calm down again. So rest day tomorrow.

RMI Guides Pete, Erika, Leif, and team

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Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Have Weather Day Rest Day

Monday, May 24, 2022 - 10:39 pm PT

We woke up hopeful to take a jaunt up the fixed lines this morning. The sky was clear above and it was nice in camp. As we fired the stoves and the sun got nearer to rounding the ridge though, we started seeing large plumes of snow jetting of the summit plateau, then 17,000' Camp, then the whole ridge and the top of the fixed line. It was really nice in camp but we made the decision it wasn't a day to go up into the wind and pivoted instead to walking across the basin to The Edge of the World (our British friends call it The End of the World). From there the basin plummets to the Northeast fork of the Kahiltna, some 6000' feet below. We got glimpses of those views but a cliff was rising up from the Glacier obscuring the full magnitude of the place. We were back by early afternoon and took a siesta. Some built a card table out of snow blocks and played eucher until they couldn't feel their backsides. We'll look again in the morning hopeful to make the trip up the fixed lines if conditions allow.

RMI Guides Pete, Leif, Erika, and team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

We really appreciate your everyday news.
Here’s some advice I got from my granddaughter as she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro:

You climb and go for the summit for your ego.
You climb and take every step for your soul.

Much love, John and the team,  Mom

Posted by: Barbara J Corona on 5/25/2022 at 11:12 am

Hey guys, hope everyone is doing well on the mountain. Ask Carl if he packed his magic cards. Wish you all a great weather window on your ascent to 17 camp! Best of luck to all.    Ron

Posted by: Ron Jackson on 5/25/2022 at 7:41 am

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer & Team Enjoy Rest Day at 14,000ft Camp

Sunday, May 22, 2022 - 11:33 pm PT

After a solid bit of work yesterday, and due to the team going the extra mile on the carry day and going all the way to 14,000' Camp, today was a full blown rest day. We waited for the sun to hit the tents, brewed up coffee and made brunch burritos, and spent the day enjoying the fine weather. We spent a bit of time this evening refreshing our fixed line skills to prep for an initial trip up the headwall. That might be tomorrow, or we might wait, weather depending.

RMI Guides Pete, Erika, Leif, and team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Thank you so much for the beautiful photo and news.  Hope the good weather holds out as well as
your bodies, minds, and spirits.  Can’t wait to hear all the stories.  You all are in our prayers.  Mom/Barbara

Posted by: Barbara J Corona on 5/24/2022 at 7:41 am

Any euchre tournements up there Stu?

Posted by: Jay Kessler on 5/23/2022 at 8:41 am

Denali Expedition: Van Deventer and Team Enjoy Rest Day and Make Plan to Move to 14k

Friday May 20 - 11:42pm

We made full value out of our rest day today. We woke late, had a brunch of blueberry pancakes and maple syrup, lounged for the better part of the day, and capped it with burritos for dinner. We have had no problem eating well.

Our main entertainment has been a very large team made up of members of the British military. We are all on a similar schedule, and subsets of their team have been filtering into camp the last couple days. As of today, our camp is encircled on three sides. The main constant in the wide variety of British accents constantly around us is the abundance of the F bomb. That word cuts through all accents and after our informal survey today shows up on average as every third word. There has been general hilarity listening to their banter through our tent walls and it was a main topic of discussion over dinner tonight.

We plan to move up to 14 tomorrow. Rested and refreshed after today, it should be done enjoyable climbing.

Pete, Erika, Leif, and team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

If anyone sees the “BRIT” soldiers can you tell a certain ADAM OCONNOR that his mum and dad are rooting for him and the rest of the group that fingers crossed they get to the top…

Posted by: David on 5/23/2022 at 2:21 pm

Is Roy Kent climbing with the British group? :) Hello to Chris, Steve and Stu! Good luck on the next stage! Be a goldfish!

Posted by: Kimmy Romine on 5/21/2022 at 12:03 pm

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