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Entries By luke wilhelm

Denali Expedition: Hahn and Team Retrieve Cache

Saturday, June 29, 2019 - 10:10 PM PT To deal with the heat, we got up a little earlier than we might ordinarily have for an easy day at 14 Camp. At 7:00 AM it is still shadowy and cool in camp but not so cool that we rushed our breakfast of bagels and salmon with cream cheese. The main task for the day was our back carry dropping down from 14,200 ft to retrieve the cached food and fuel at 13,500 ft. We were out of camp at 9:20 and down to the cache just 15 or 20 minutes later. The ravens showed no interest whatsoever in our buried treasure although we’d seen where they raided a nearby poorly done cache a few days back. After a bit of hard digging, we distributed the load and began trudging back up at 10:00. The route happens to be quite direct this season -- just a factor of a few crevasses either being bridged well or not in a given year -- and so it only took 45 minutes to get home. On the spooky side of things we witnessed the normally stable and well-frozen West Buttress shedding rock down its steep flanks due to the heat. Back at camp, the easy part of our day began. We took shelter and drank water. The forest fire smoke grew thick enough that we couldn’t see down onto the Kahiltna Glacier and all but the top 3000 ft of Mt Foraker was obscured. We were pleased to connect with RMI Guide Mike Walter’s victorious team when they came down and became our neighbors. In the afternoon we reviewed the techniques we’ll employ to safely ascend the fixed lines between 15,000 and 16,000 ft. Tomorrow the forecast calls for a weather change, but if that is slow in arriving, we’d like to carry up onto the West Buttress. Best Regards, RMI Guide Dave Hahn
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Thanks for the pictures and updates! The warmth is a fooler at those altitudes?! Hope you are having a great day in thinner air - does the smoke keep rising with you?

Posted by: Rich Green on 6/30/2019 at 10:14 am

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Move Into 14K Camp

Friday, June 28, 2019 - 10:23 PM PT The heat wave is on. The highest temperatures of the season -so far- are hitting the mountain. The freezing level was up at 13,000 feet today and that is the expectation for tomorrow as well. (It might "normally" be down at 8,000 feet this time of year). We were up at 4:30 to take advantage of the cooler morning shadows. It took until about 7:10 to get on the move though after a good breakfast and some packing and gear sorting. We rolled up the now familiar series of hills -Motorcycle, Squirrel, Polo Field- but this day had much less cloud about than our carry two days back. There are layers of forest fire smoke in the air though -a big fire (56,000 acres) is burning down on the Kenai Peninsula, among others. Even so, we could see all the way down to the Tordrillos at the southern end of the Alaska Range. We moved quickly around Windy Corner and then lost any wind or breeze as we worked up into the giant reflector oven of Genet Basin. It was getting downright hot at 1PM as we pulled into camp at 14,200 ft. It was a fine thing to be greeted by Mike Haugen’s team taking their rest day. They helped us out with some water to get started and showed us a nice set of pre-built tent platforms not far from their own. We built our new home and then crawled in to take shelter from the blazing sun. Each time any of our climbers or guides came out -there’d be a few “wow’s” and some jaw-dropping or head-shaking as they tried to take in the views out over the mountains and glaciers to the South. And usually bigger WOW’S as they turned to look at Denali’s South Peak standing a mile in the sky straight up over us. We ate our dinner in a new snow dining room, told some stories and talked over plans for the next few days. First off, we plan to get a good night's sleep after a hard-working day. Best Regards, RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Denali Expedition: Hahn and Team Enjoy R & R Denali Style

Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 10:44 PM PT No alarm clocks this morning. It was a rest day at 11K. Everyone came into the dining tent with smiles around 9 AM, having enjoyed lying in. We stretched breakfast to last a couple of hours as we swilled coffee and chowed down on perfectly constructed breakfast burritos. Some followed that with the first naps of the day, others read, chatted, sorted gear or daydreamed. It was a fine day with mild temps and strong sun. Nobody was sorry to have an occasional cloud throwing shade. We rehydrated and rested. R & R Denali style. There are only about three other teams at 11,000 ft at the moment - the climbing season is tapering off - and so things were quiet and calm. The forecast calls for a few more nice days, which is usually about all one can ask for around here. We will spring back into action tomorrow with the big move to 14 Camp. Best Regards, RMI Guide Dave Hahn
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Congratulations team on the progress to 11,000.  Big milestone!  You rock!

Posted by: Ken Porrello on 6/28/2019 at 12:57 pm

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Carry and Cache

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 11:21 PM PT Our workable weather continued today. Crisp, cool and mostly clear conditions prevailed as we set out above 11,000 camp at 7:15 this morning. Motorcycle Hill was first up, but didn’t take us all that long, just forty five minutes of “duck foot” cramponing up a steep snow slope with a handful of well-bridged crevasses. Next up was Squirrel Hill, a little traversing and some more duck footing, which brought us up to the Polo Field at the west end of the West Buttress. By this point, we were finally out of the valleys... looking up at surrounding mountains has been fun, but now looking out and down at the world from 12 and 13,000 ft is novel and beautiful. Windy Corner wasn’t windy. We took a pleasant rest break there in the mid morning sunshine. Then we put our helmets on and climbed around the corner. A new world opened up to us as we could now see the upper West Buttress and the bulk of Denali’s South Peak up close and personal. At 13,500 ft, we’d reached our target for the day -about four hours above 11 camp. We dug a deep hole in the snow to cache food and gear out of the reach of crafty clever ravens. Enjoying the sunshine and calm conditions, we lingered for about an hour before starting our descent. The track was in fine condition, so walking/climbing down went smoothly and easily. We strolled into 11,000 near two in the afternoon, which as we’ve discovered, is a darn good time for a nap. Clouds came and went throughout the afternoon and evening, there were some light showers, but nothing of great significance from our perspective. We’ll rest tomorrow to solidify acclimatization before making the big jump up to 14 camp. Best Regards, RMI Guide Dave Hahn and Team
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Following along from sea level and 95 degrees, wishing we were there on the top with you.  Good Luck with continued good weather and happy hikers.  N & P from Maryland.

Posted by: Sandy on 6/28/2019 at 5:42 am

Thanks David - great being connected!  Is that Keir in front of the camera in today’s post walking up hill? Awesome views and blue skies!

Posted by: Rich Green on 6/27/2019 at 10:05 am

Denali Custom Expedition: Hahn & Team Climb to 11,000 and Establish Camp

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 9:58 PM PT Four AM wake up today down at 9,500 ft. That was a perfect time for watching the early rays of sunshine playing across Mt Foraker’s 17,000 ft slopes. We watched, but we also geared up and ate our Cheerios. There were a bunch of different layers of cloud out and about, but none of those gave us any trouble. We hit the trail by six. It was an easier trail to hit today, since there’d been a good freeze and no additional new snow overnight. Cruising along the upper Kahiltna in deep, cool shadows was wonderful. Although it wasn’t our intention, we shaved plenty of time off our travel from yesterday as we made it to 11,000 by 8:30 AM. Then there was the familiar work of leveling tent sites, building tents and anchoring them down. By the time the sun found us we were ready for a midday nap. In the afternoon the team got together for a review of the climbing techniques we’ll use to get up and around Windy Corner. The character of the climb changes with tomorrow’s carry. Time to bust out the crampons and ice axes. Hannah crushed things in the kitchen this evening with her acclaimed Mac and Cheese. Things briefly got snowy and cold, and then blue sky and sunshine broke out everywhere as we turned in for the “night” Best Regards RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Thank you, Hannah, for the Mac Cheese!  I’m sure the crew appreciated it.  And Dave, thanks so much for the blog - and the cool map.  Very helpful for those of us at home.

Posted by: Judit on 6/26/2019 at 1:02 pm

Denali Custom Expedition: Hahn & Team Carry Supplies to 11,000’

Monday, June 24, 2019 - 9:56 PM PT Two inches of snow covered our tents in the wee hours this morning at 9,500' on the Kahiltna. It was still falling at 3:30 when the alarms went off so we gave it another 30 minutes to shape up. Sure enough, at 4 AM things were looking better. We rallied and ate breakfast in our dining tent. At 5:40 it was time for moving up. The walking was pretty easy, despite the new snow and it was all very quiet, traveling in muffled cloudy conditions. In an hour’s time we were at Kahiltna Pass at 10,000', the very northernmost start to the 47 mile long glacier. Time to turn right and go up some steeper hill to 11,000', which we did. We reached the camp at around 8 AM, having walked out of the clouds in the process. It was a spectacular and novel setting, up close to some great hanging ice cliffs and towering rock buttresses. We dug a raven-proof cache in the snow and buried the food, fuel, and equipment we’d carried. It was then an easy and pleasant walk down with light packs and empty sleds. Finally it was a relief to come into our already established camp at 9500 ft and relax. There was no digging to be done or tents to put up, which was just as well. It got blazing hot, even with all of the cloud lingering. We napped away another quiet afternoon. Best Regards RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Denali Custom Expedition: Hahn & Team Move Camp to 9,500’

Sunday, June 23, 2019 - 10:01 PM PT We slept in all the way until 2:30 this morning down at the base of Ski Hill. It rained a little in the middle of the night, but by the time we got up the sky was clear and it was refreshingly cool. We’d busted down camp and were waddling uphill on our snowshoes by 4:45 AM. Our challenge for the day was to gain 1,700 feet in elevation up a series of hills. Views were tremendous as we rose up over the lower Kahiltna. The South Face of Denali with the Cassin ridge charging up the middle was on our right, Kahiltna Dome on our left. There was ice pouring off of every slope and plateau. At around 9,000 ft we could tell that snow had fallen rather than rain, but it was only on the order of a half inch. At 8:15 we rolled onto the flats at 9500 and set up a new camp. There was the usual frenzy of digging to establish tent platforms, a kitchen, latrine, and dining room. By now though we are getting practiced and skilled at the chores that stand between us and a nap. Once the sun is directly on us, it cooks everything and we take refuge in our shelters and beg for an occasional breeze. Dinner brings us together again late in the day and we go over the plan for what comes next. In this case, what comes next is a carry to 11,000 and a return to 9500. Best Regards RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Looking good. Have fun

Posted by: Warren on 6/24/2019 at 9:48 pm

Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Set up Camp at the Base of Ski Hill

Saturday, June 22, 2018 - 9:43 PM PT All is well at 7,800 ft on the Kahiltna Glacier. At 30 minutes after midnight we fired the stoves at Basecamp and checked with the folks. This time all were feeling good and healthy and ready for climbing. We ate breakfast in the shadows -it doesn’t get dark this time of year, but it does get cool and shadowy without direct sunshine. We packed up and roped up and began shuffling out of base at 3:15 AM. Conditions were excellent -the surface had frozen up enough so that walking was easy and the sleds came along with minimal resistance. Best of all, crevasse problems were nearly nonexistent and the route was consequently more direct than in other years. Partway through our morning, we met Mike King’s victorious team heading for the airstrip. We exchanged handshakes and fist bumps and wished each other well. At 7:45 AM we pulled in to the base of ski hill and began building a camp. The sun was out by then but we had plenty of time to get shelter up before things got intensely hot in the giant reflector oven we call home. We passed the day napping, drinking water and chatting to one another. By evening there was a steady down glacier breeze but we were comfortably sheltered within our dining tent by then. Tomorrow is another early start. Best Regards RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Denali Expedition: Hahn & Team Take Unexpected Rest Day At Base Camp

Today was an unexpected rest day at Kahiltna Basecamp. We were up just after 12:30 AM and had breakfast under clear skies, just as we’d hoped for. The glacier surface was freezing up nicely. It turned out that one of our team had a rough night and seemed to be in the midst of some acute illness. Fairly quickly it became clear that we needed to push back our travel plans in order to let the illness play through. Despite all being freshly caffeinated... we unpacked our sleeping bags and went back to bed. It became a day of brilliant sunshine and blue skies... just what the doctor ordered in terms of restful, easy conditions. Our patient improved and we seem to now be on course for tomorrow’s early departure. It was a test of our team’s patience and flexibility... which we passed with flying colors. But it also must be admitted that it was nice to simply rest after a bunch of busy days getting to and then onto Denali. Best Regards RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Denali Custom Expedition: Hahn & Team Fly onto Kahiltna Glacier

Thursday, June 20, 2019 9:27 PM PT We made it onto the mountain first thing after breakfast today. Things went about as easily as they possibly could. The weather in Talkeetna was fine and first reports from the mountain were similar. It wasn’t like we were racing our two planes in to the mountains trying to take advantage of some tiny break in the weather. We took the standard team photograph under the nose of a big red K2 ski-equipped Otter and then got busy loading up. Just as the planes were lifting off the runway we could see a young moose some fifty feet off the port side wingtip. The rest of the flight was just the normal beautiful as we crossed from green and flat tundra to white snow and steep black rock. After 45 minutes, at around 9:30 AM our pilots had us on final approach to Kahiltna International. We had a little work to do then, dragging loads from the airplanes to a suitable campsite in the snow, and building tents. But we did all of that in the middle of a spectacular -and for many of us- unfamiliar setting of giant peaks and surreal cloud forms. We set into a few training sessions reviewing glacier travel techniques and crevasse protocols. The afternoon was endless and easy and then we sat together in a snow dining room to have dinner and take a break. Finally, the team had a few last chores getting packed and sorted before an early bedtime. Just as we finished up, a speed climber came trotting up the SE Fork on snowshoes. The man casually and cheerfully claimed a new round trip speed record for Denali of 11 hours and 40 minutes. Our lower jaws hit the snow in disbelief and astonishment. We congratulated the man and went back to launching our three week version of the same thing. The gang was in bed by 7 PM. The alarm will go off at 12:30 AM and we’ll get motivating. Best Regards, RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
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Cheering you all on from the lower 48 in hot and steamy Maryland.  Looking forward to hearing your news and adventures.  XO N. and P.

Posted by: Sandy Bemis on 6/24/2019 at 5:36 am

Here’s to good luck, good weather and a good summit!
Lou & Ingrid

Posted by: Lou whittaker on 6/22/2019 at 9:01 am

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