×

Log In

Or

Register With Us

    *required fields
    • Keep up to date with information about our latest climbs by joining our mailing list. Sign up and we'll keep you informed about new adventures, special offers, competitions, and news.

×
×

Check Availability

Entries By jt schmitt


Denali Expedition: Brent Okita & Team Signing Off

A leisurely, big breakfast of eggs, bacon and hash browns was had after sleeping in fairly late yesterday. When we finally got out of the posh we were surprised to find that planes might be flying soon. Yes, we were keeping an eye on the weather, but it wasn’t really that good yet. At first we couldn’t really believe it and the team indulged in some leg wrestling antics (which the women handily won).Then we heard the words, “RMI Okita, two Otters are in the air for you”.So we went from slow mo to go go as we tore our tents down and packed in a matter of about twenty minutes! I think some folks were motivated to leave. As we brought the last of our stuff the fifty yards to the glacier landing strip we saw the planes come into view. By 1:00 we were in town, unpacking group gear and trying to dry stuff that was soaked from the unseasonably warm temps and rain. We’ll not discuss our evening affair in much detail except that the food was good and the libations rather excessive.

We’re on our way to the airport now, twenty three days after flying on to the mountain. No summit to boast of this time. But looking back on it all, it’s the people we climb with and share adventures with that inspires me to live the life of my dreams. Summits may be nice but are somewhat ephemeral. Friendships formed while climbing mountains last a lifetime. Thanks to the wonderful group of climbers with whom I’ve shared the past three weeks. You’re the best!
And now they are on their way back to you, with stories to tell and memories to share. Indulge their eccentricities. Should they reach for their pee bottle in the middle of the night or ask for a “swirl” after dinner, don’t worry. They’ll recover from these mountain habits in time.

Thanks for joining us these past three weeks!

Goodbye,
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

It looks like you guys are patient and strong enough, it is true JT, Summits are ephemeral,  the mountain still there, JT I’m sure the smile is still there and the fight for adventure grown, great to hear team is back and rested :)

Posted by: Lauro Urbina on 6/17/2017 at 1:39 pm


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Reach Base Camp

June 10, 2017

The sleep of the dead finally hit me this morning just after my last post. An hour later JT asks, “Should we get up? It’s 1:04 am and the alarm on my phone hasn’t gone off!”

The night hadn’t brought the hoped for cooling, but it was time to leave and make that trip to Base Camp. Breakfast and hots were served in the remains of our old Posh site, sans the actual Posh, then we were off. As we turned the corner at 10,000’ heading down the Kahiltna we were treated to the amazing view down glacier of the jewels ad the Alaska Range. Hunter, Foraker, Crosson and other peaks were starkly defined in shades of black and white, along with some other hue that seemed hard to place. Unusually dark clouds prevented the pinks and reds we often see at 3:30-4:00 am, but this view I’ve never seen before, and may have been even more spectacular. 6+ hours of hard walking finally brought us back to Base Camp. Reflective of the poor snow year in the Alaskan mountains this year, there were a number of sketchy crevasse crossing to be negotiated. Then white out conditions kept us from seeing the landmarks that would otherwise tell us exactly where we were, but the track in the snow of others gave us something to follow. Then, low and behold, the tents of Base Camp popped into view and we knew we were done. Unfortunately, these same clouds have prevented planes from flying and landing here, so we are again captive of the weather gods and just waiting to be released from Denali to return to civilization where we might wash the twenty one days of toil off us and sit in chairs at a table and eat food that requires more than just a spoon.

I just hope that, when we do get to that restaurant, some social graces return to folks and we don’t see them licking their bowls clean in anticipation of the next course.
I’ll of course advise everyone to bring a pee bottle to their hotel room, and perhaps even a CMC (clean mountain can), because some habits might just be too difficult to break after these twenty one days.

Goodnight from 7200’ camp, where I hear the snow hitting the tent walls in increasing intensity. Oh well, at least we need walk no more, for now.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina, JT & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

What an Awesome adventure, Summit or not…An Awesome Adventure! Congrats to everyone!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/12/2017 at 4:36 am

It sounds like quite an adventure to 17K.  From what Ive read everyone’s bailed off 17 Camp in the last few days.  Quite a year for crevasse falls too.  Glad you guys made it safely back to camp!  Now to chill out and sip some Alaskan brews until the ride shows up.  Have an Ice Axe for me when you get back to TK!

Posted by: Keith Gates on 6/12/2017 at 12:28 am


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team on Their Descent

June 10, 2017 12:07 am PST

It was a day of decisions. The team sadly broke apart today, with the main group heading down, and two strong and driven individuals opting to stay on the mountain to give ‘er another try. Caught in the middle I was torn between sticking with the two and going for the summit, or sticking with the main part of the team. After anguishing over the decision, I chose to finish off the expedition with the team, rather than lead our two erstwhile members to the top.
A sketchy forecast helped me in my decision, and I think my two climbers will have a better chance of summiting with the groups I left them with. They’ll be joining Tyler and Jake’s teams, who have a bit more time than I to wait for good weather.
So here we are, in our tents at 11,200’ camp waiting for the night to referee the glacier so we can travel over its frozen surface to minimize the risk of crevasse falls that have been occurring much more than normal lately.
It’s sad separating from our two teammates, and leaving the mountain without a summit under our belts. For me it’s been twenty five trips since I’ve not summited. But folks are in good spirits.
I think we all really appreciate the time we’ve spent here, the friendships developed, the hard times as well as the fun times.
In two hours we awaken for one last day on the glacier. That is, as long as the air service can pick us up in the morning.
With any luck, next time I chat with you I’ll have had a shower, eaten a big ol’ steak and perhaps consumed an adult beverage or two.
Good night from 11,200’.

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

who are the two going for the summit?

Posted by: win smith sr on 6/12/2017 at 10:21 am

Team - Sorry that you did not summit but congratulations on such strong climbing and a great adventure. Many people have been rooting for you and continue to do so. Descend safely and enjoy your return to civilization.  Ken

Posted by: Ken Porrello on 6/11/2017 at 5:12 am


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Retreat to 14K Camp

June 9, 2017 12:55 a.m. PT

Every fifteen minutes another gust would pummel the side of the tent. Of course, it would have to be on my side. The moisture inside our precious shelter, frozen to the walls of the tent would fall on us with each gust, forcing us deeper into our bed of down.
Day five at 17,200’ turned in to a real doozy. The forecasts have actually been fairly good lately, and no good news was to be had with the latest issued. In fact, a high wind alert was posted for the upcoming four days with winds into the sixties. This had camp on edge, including my wise assistants Christina and JT, upon whom I rely so heavily to help make our trip the best and safest, My initial optimism that the weather would surely improve with time was tempered by the latest info coming out. A decision to retreat to the relative safety, protection and comfort of 14,200’ camp was made by all in camp, even though the strong winds are cause for concern as we need to navigate the technical terrain of the West Buttress.
Taking down tents and packing up went well even in those conditions, a testament of the ability of our veteran and tested team. The climb down to camp went well, besides the inevitable traffic of perhaps fifty people leaving camp simultaneously.
To our delight, the RMI teams at 14,200’ got into our cache and had camp all set up for us when we pulled in, What incredible work, A huge THANKS to https://www.rmiguides.com/blog/expedition/denali_5_23_17/desc, Jake and their teams!!!
So now, at day 19 we have a number of folks feeling the pull of home and a life put on hold while we take part in this incredible experience. A couple of others are still excited to finish off the climb and willing to put in a few more days. An updated forecast in the morning might help us see if we actually have a realistic chance of getting a good enough break on the weather in a few days time. We’ll make some final decisions in the morning, but right now we might not even have good enough weather to leave camp.
Goodnight from 14,200’ camp (revisited),

RMI Guides Brent Okita, Christina Dale and JT Schmitt

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Dear Alex,
“Nevertheless, she persisted…”
Keep strong and safe, team.
Jasmin

Posted by: Jasmin on 6/10/2017 at 6:38 am

Hello Mountain Friends!  So sorry that I couldn’t join the climb at the last minute this year.  Everything has resolved itself with my family’s health issues, but it was necessary to stay here.  While I have been very disappointed that I can’t be climbing with you, I have been following the blog entries about your progress with enthusiasm, and am impressed with the tough resolve that you have all exhibited as you’ve faced the various challenges on the mountain.  I truly hope that the weather relents and gives you all a well-deserved shot at the summit in the next few days!  Best of luck and stay safe everyone.  I hope to climb with you all at some point on down the road.  -William

Posted by: William Kenyon on 6/9/2017 at 6:59 pm


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Climb to Denali Pass

June 7, 2017
“Ok, I know we’ve been climbing for three hours straight, but let’s get a quick bite to eat and drink and get out of here and back to camp.”
“Brent, there’s like over thirty people behind us on the route.” JT exclaims, trying to be heard over the winds that have just picked up.
This was the scene at Denali Pass a few hours ago, high point of our midday sojourn to kick in the route, reset the anchors to the current route and mostly get some exercise so we do not waste away up here.
After passing a windless evening last night I was optimistic of our chances to summit this morning. But, as our typically poor luck would have it, around 7:00am the first ripples of wind tickled the tent walls. By 9:00 we had 40 mph gusts pushing the tent walls into our faces. Yes, we were all ready to go if the weather improved since it wasn’t horrible outside besides those pesky gusts.
Finally, 11:45 rolled around and we decided to go for a little walk.
By 12:30 we were climbing to Denali Pass. This is typically later than we’d like to start for the summit, but we didn’t have the summit in mind anyways. What took me by surprise was how our little walk inspired the entire camp at 17,200’ to gear up and climb.
Our team really climbed well today, especially impressing me on how well everyone descended.
The weather forecast is not really inspiring, but we’ll hang in here for a couple more days anyways to see if we can catch a break. The team is still smiling, and we had a great experience today. All it takes is one nice day to finish this thing off.
Good night,
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

JT -  I’m living vicariously through you, have fun and be safe.!

Posted by: Uncle Tad on 6/9/2017 at 6:53 am

Keep the faith, Lindsay and team!

Ken P

Posted by: Ken Porrello on 6/8/2017 at 12:49 pm


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Waiting for Better Weather

June 6, 2017
The cocoon of warmth and comfort provided by our sleeping bags is tough to leave sometimes, especially when the mercury is hovering well below zero outside. But starting at 6:30am that is my job: to look outside and check the climbing conditions for summit worthy weather.
The winds around camp had settled a little, but blowing snow was obvious above us around Denali Pass. Although better than yesterday, I was still rather leery of bringing the team into conditions like that. With improvement by 7:30 we had hots on for breakfast and the team prepared all they could by being all dressed and ready to go, but hanging out in their tents and staying warm.
At decision time there was still blowing snow off the higher ridges and the Pass, and I made another tough decision not to go for the summit, As soon as it warmed up a bit we continued with the home improvements started yesterday and are now proud owners of a roofed and enclosed bathroom. Ok, basically it’s just a place for us to pee and poop, but we’ll now have some privacy and a little protection from the gusts of wind and snow we’ve had to deal with the past few days. Up here, it’s the little things that help make this tough life at 17,200’ just a little nicer.
It was good for all of us to move and work a bit, and many blocks of snow were cut in the construction of our masterpiece. I believe we impressed our neighbors to no end, with many people coming over to garner building tips for making on of their own, or just taking pictures and marveling at the energy we put in to our humble commode.
As these days pass by even the most patient of us are getting antsy for the summit, but there’s one thing we don’t have control of is the weather. So, we just make the most of what we have. Life on this beautiful mountain in the company of some pretty cool people. Things could be a lot worse.

Bye for now.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hi Bill and team,

I admire your perseverance with the waiting game, undoubtably the hardest part of the climb. Camp construction and naps are a great way to pass the time. I’ve been checking the weather periodically and trying to guess as to when you all might head for the summit. Fingers crossed for warmer weather when that finally does happen! Sending great thoughts for a safe summit bid!!

Love,
K

Posted by: Kristen Kelliher on 6/8/2017 at 6:11 am

You Guys have an AWESOME Camp!!! Climb Strong!!

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/8/2017 at 3:47 am


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Postpone Summit Bid Due to High Winds

June 5, 2017
Day 16 of the hostage crisis and negotiations are at a standstill. Apparently, those that hold the key to the summit have not been impressed with our payment so far. Climbing through a cold and snowy first week and a half impressed no one. Then they would not recognize the currency of toil that got us and all our food and gear to 17,200’. We missed a golden opportunity by a day, as the winds picked up last night, shaking the fabric of our tents and blowing light plumes of snow higher off the mountain.
These conditions entitled the team to breakfast in bed this morning, considering that we left our Posh House at 14,200’ to reduce our loads a bit.
But, the sun is shining, we have plenty of food and fuel, and our spirits are still high. After a post breakfast siesta we’ll get to work building walls around our new home to keep the tents a little more protected.
We’ll be ready to rock this mountain just as soon as she gives us a chance,

Staying warm enough, 
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

We are following you with every blog post and know you will stay strong and determined.  Katie

Posted by: Katie McRae on 6/6/2017 at 8:44 am

Wishing you calm winds and a safe journey. So proud of you, Bill.  Love to you and success to you and the team.

Posted by: Marie on 6/6/2017 at 8:35 am


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Prepare for Summit Bid

June 4, 2017
Excitement, nervousness and apprehension are some of the emotions running through the group right now as we try to relax and get some sleep before going for the summit in the morning.
The sky is clear, winds are light and it’s warm right now as the sun is still shining at 9:30pm. The morning will be quite different though. Sub zero temps will make getting out of these tents hard at best.
No need for an alpine start here on Denali. We’ll rise around 7:00-7:30am since we really don’t need to stop get back to camp early like on normal alpine climbs.
The crew is ready, and so are we!
Wish us luck.
RMI Guides Brent, Christina and JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Wishing the team good weather for
The summit.
Stunning pictures
Love to Tommy and Alex and Italian feast waiting for you.
Aunt Elisa and Uncle Garrick

Posted by: Elisa and Garrick on 6/5/2017 at 4:24 pm

Wishing you all a successful, safe and amazing journey.
Nearly there!!!!
Xxxxx

Posted by: Sheryl Hawkins on 6/5/2017 at 11:05 am


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Walk to the Edge of the World

A day of rest was slated for today after our big day yesterday, and we took full advantage of it. Feasting on another breakfast of smoked salmon, bagels and cream cheese, we chose to stretch the legs with a short walk to the “Edge of the World”, where you can look down into the NE fork of the Kahiltna Glacier some 6000’ below, and also see our first camp at 7800’. That seems so long ago that we were there, maybe because it was.
It’s been two weeks now that we’ve been climbing this mountain. And although it’s time to ‘get ‘er done’, spirits are pretty high. We’re all excited to get into position at high camp, even though we know this means a much less comfortable existence that our digs here at 14,200’ provide.

The forecast calls for an end to the high pressure we’ve been enjoying after tomorrow, but no real significant bad weather coming in either. I’ve certainly summited when the forecasts have been like this, but it would be nice to have a couple days like the past two. What I do know is that everyone is rested, strong and ready for what comes.

Wish us luck! We’ll take all we can get. Talk to you from 17,200’ camp.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina, JT & Team

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

congratulations JT we are all very proud of you,may the force be with you.love you ,Grandpa.

Posted by: Win Smith Sr on 6/5/2017 at 2:06 pm

Its So Exciting to follow along on your climb! I wish you all the best and Pray for good weather!!
Dave Kestel

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 6/5/2017 at 3:26 am


Denali Expedition: Okita & Team Climb Fixed Line to Place Cache

June 2, 2017
As cold as it is at 6:30am here at 14,200’, we knew that an early start to our day would be for the best. The crew was up and at ‘em even before hots were quite ready. We all knew this was a big day, and it was.
The sun hadn’t hit our part of the mountain yet, so we were bundled up. This is my usual plan, and surprisingly, we were the first group out of camp. This always bodes well in terms of being one of the first on the fixed lines - that part of the mountain which is quite steep where passage up it is protected by fixed ropes that we can secure ourselves to while climbing slopes up to 50 degrees in steepness.
The team really crushed it, then climbed well again on the West Buttress itself. This really is the most spectacular and challenging part of the route. A few of us cached our loads at our standard location at 16,600’. But two of our rope teams climbed all the way to high camp at 17,200’ and cached there! Great work by everyone.
Later, upon return to camp, we heard that a group that left an hour after us had to wait for two hours due to the congestion in the fixed roped. We were all pretty psyched that we didn’t have that issue. Instead, we had one of the most perfect days climbing the Butttress I’ve seen. Windless and warm.
The weather forecast is, of course, on everybody’s minds, with this window of nice weather perhaps coming to an end in a couple of days. Some guides are even accelerating their timelines to head up to 17,200’ a day or so earlier. I’ve toyed with this idea too, to forego our rest day tomorrow and try to get a summit in while we can. But, my gut tells me to practice the patience I always preach, so we’ll enjoy our rest day tomorrow and take it one day at a time. I know we’ll all be the stronger for it, and after our big day we’re all a little tired right now.
So, good night from 14,200’.

RMI Guides Brent, Christina an JT

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Good luck JT, have fun and be safe!

Posted by: Tad on 6/4/2017 at 5:28 am

Good work.  Ardel, I’m thrilled your team is “movin on up.”
Have fun.
David

Posted by: David Zeps on 6/3/2017 at 10:44 am

Next Page
Filter By:

Sign up for Expedition Dispatches

check the Summit Registry try our Adventure Finder
Back to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

    *required fields
    • Keep up to date with information about our latest climbs by joining our mailing list. Sign up and we'll keep you informed about new adventures, special offers, competitions, and news.
      privacy policy

Thank you for subscribing to the RMI Expeditions Newsletter!

While you're at it, you can sign up some of our other mailings as well:

Please choose the programs you'd like updates on: