Entries By pete van deventer
June 7, 2016
As our expedition has wound down and we’ve had a few moments to reflect, we wanted to send one final dispatch. By now, everyone has made it home, caught up on some needed sleep and recovery, and nursed some bruised and battered feet back from the long walk out. The memories of a perfect summit day, the many days in tents, the incredible vistas at the Edge of the World and 17 camp are still vivid however!
After an incredible summit day, we packed our camp the next morning as Brent’s team prepared for their summit bid. Though there wasn’t a rush, everyone was motivated by the knowledge that at the end of our long descent lay Talkeetna, with fresh food, beer, flip flops, and clean clothes. With heavy packs on once more, we made short work of the West Buttress, coated in a new layer of an inch or two of snow, and cruised down the fixed lines to 14 camp where we were met by Tyler Jones and team. To them, we owe a lot, as they had taken their rest day to dig up our cache for us, organize and sort it, and met us with water to satiate ourselves and refill bottles. So thankful, and sad that we didn’t have more time to spend with them, we shortly wished them luck and continued down to 11,200.’ It was progressing into the evening hours, and with snow falling and another cache to dig up, we decided to spend the night there. We made a hasty camp this time, with much less concern for walls, or even a flat tent site, and spent the evening rigging our sleds, and packing bags to be ready for an early AM departure.
When we woke, it was still snowing and we sat inside a cloud that blurred the ground, horizon, and sky all into one even color. There are lots of cliches for it: the inside of a ping pong ball, in the white room, or wading through a jug of milk, regardless, that is what we did all day. Flying pretty much completely on instruments, with the occasional wand to guide our way, we made our path down the lower Kahiltna to the airstrip. At one point, an errant black want appeared far off to the teams’ right. As we moved towards it, it shape began to shift eerily, until a black, Canada Goose head came into focus sticking out of the snow. As we realized what we were looking at, the goose shifted, it’s body erupting out of the snow, and it took a look at us and took off in flight, gliding away into the otherworldly landscape.
The poor visibility and trail breaking added time to our march out, and just after noon, we walked into Base Camp, triumphantly, and relieved to be done with the heavy packs and sleds. The weather however provided little hope of flying out, and with an organized low pressure system moving over our area for the next five days, there was some thought that we could be in for the long Base Camp wait. We set up tents, dug up our last cache, sorted gear into duffels to be ready for the flight out whenever it happened, and put snowshoes back on to the Base Camp community chore of packing out the runway. With our work accomplished, we settled into tents to try and calm our minds and find our waiting game zen. Imperceptibly, the tents began to grow lighter, and then a report from a high altitude sightseeing plane made it sound as though there might be a path for our bush planes to get in. Before we knew it, word came that the wonderful folks at K2 Aviation had launched every plane they had to come get us, and that four Otters were in the air on their way. We stripped camp in moments, and soon the silent sky was filled with the buzz of small aircraft as they all came into the runway in squadron formation. Hardly able to believe our luck, we threw bags aboard, found our seats, stowed our carryons, buckled our seatbelts and we were off.
Landing in Talkeetna after 23 days on the mountain is an amazing experience; it was raining lightly, and the colors, sounds of life, and smells were a massive influx on the senses. We jumped out of our three week old clothes and into cotton, and headed to the West Rib, the famous Talkeetna restaurant and bar, for a celebratory dinner followed by revelry at the Fairview. Just as quickly as the trip started, it wound down, as the team boarded a shuttle the next morning to Anchorage to catch flights back to home and our loved ones.
This trip was marked by a team that endured consistent spats of harsh weather, and endured it well. Sitting isn’t always easy, especially when you have to leave the tent into a blizzard every 45 minutes to dig out your tent again, but the team hung tough and stayed positive, and because of their wherewithal, were able to string together one of the more beautiful summit days that the guides have seen. We’d love to thank the whole team for their patience, strength, teamwork, and desire; it was an honor to climb with you all. Similarly, Robby and Jess are two of the most fantastic co-guides that one could ever hope to work with. It took us awhile to reach the top, but it made it that much more rewarding in the end. We’re closing out an incredible trip that everyone involved will remember for the rest of our lives. Thanks for following along on the journey.
RMI Guide Pete Van Deventer
June 6, 2016
The May 10th Denali Expedition led by RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Robby Young, and Jess Matthews were able to fly off the Kahiltna Glacier around 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3rd. After 24 days long days on the mountain, the team rushed off for showers, greasy burgers, and real beds. The team’s patience paid off with a successful summit of Denali but everyone is excited to be returning home to their loved ones.
June 2, 2016
June 2, 2016 - 3:45 p.m. PDT
Pete Van Deventer called the office to check in this afternoon. The team is at the 14K Camp and plans to continue down to 11K or 7k today. It is currently snowing, and wind-free at 14,000 feet. They met up with Brent Okita’s team and wished them luck as they prepare for their upcoming Denali summit bid.
On The Map
Hooray for you Robert Hohn!!! I am so happy for you and the Team to make the Summit!
A hard worked for dream achieved, congratulations! Woohoo!
Praying for you all to have a safe decent and trip back home.
Odett and Gretchen
Posted by: Odett Ferguson on 6/2/2016 at 7:58 pm
June 2, 2016
June 1, 2016 - 11:47 p.m. PDT
Summit days don’t get any better than what we had today. There wasn’t a breath of wind, and the warm temperatures let us leave early and get out ahead of other teams. It was the warmest summit day any of the guides remember, and the team did spectacularly. Seven and a half hours of climbing had us standing on the summit taking photos, and then we boogied back to camp. It was well worth the wait and we certainly did our penance and deserved a day like today. With the summit achieved, everyone is more than ready to get back to town and home. We’ll pack camp tomorrow and get down to warmer, thicker air, and with luck be at the airstrip first thing the day after tomorrow. But first we’ll sleep tonight, and dream of the highest summit in North America.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Robby Young, Jess Matthews, and team
On The Map
Lisa - So proud of you! Simply incredible. What a stunning day on the summit, we can’t wait to see you back in NYC!!
Your Robin Hood Team
Posted by: Megan on 6/4/2016 at 7:15 pm
Congratulations to all on the team, big accomplishment!
Posted by: David Clemmons on 6/3/2016 at 5:55 am
May 31, 2016
May 31, 2016 - 8:15 pm PT
Today turned out to be the perfect day to take a rest day at 17 in preparation for our summit attempt. Sometimes the forecast is correct, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s wrong in a helpful direction (like yesterday) and sometimes not (today). Winds were cranking out of the East this morning over the summit, and gusting through Denali Pass as well. Clearly not a summit day, we rested in tents and recovered from yesterday’s big loads and tough camp building effort. Luckily, we were pretty protected from those East winds, so we had a relatively warm calm day. A field trip to the vista that overlooks 14 let us stretch our legs and get some frame worthy shots. Things look promising for tomorrow, so we’re going hit the sack early and be ready for the morning. We’ll be dreaming of summits.
RMI Guides Pete, Jess, Robby, and team
On The Map
Thinking of my nephew Michael Adams and his team of adventure seekers. You are all being prayed for each day - for a wonderful and safe journey. Each day is new…make it great!
Posted by: Aunt Susan (Susan Lawrence) on 6/2/2016 at 7:03 am
Summiting Denali is upon you.
Your opted in for another breathtaking chapter to the story of YOU.
“One does not climb to attain enlightenment, rather one climbs because he is enlightened” - zen master futomaki
Posted by: Pamela on 6/1/2016 at 2:31 pm
May 31, 2016
May 31, 2016 - 1:17 am PT
It’s finally happening! Light snow fell overnight and the morning skies were blue, without anything moving up high. We packed up our camp, left a cache of extras, and went for round two on the fixed lines. With sunny skies and calm winds, we got the experience the air under our feet that comes with climbing the West Buttress. Exhilarating! 6.5 hours of climbing brought us to 17,200’ where we had to build camp in the thin air. With tents up and walls built, we’re tucking in for the night with the hope of going to the summit of Denali tomorrow.
RMI Guides Pete, Robby, Jess, and team
On The Map
Posted by: Walter Glover on 6/1/2016 at 5:29 am
Denali winds, please REST!!
So exciting! Be careful team, patience has served you well.
Posted by: Greg Hurley on 6/1/2016 at 2:59 am
May 30, 2016
May 29, 2016 - 10:36 p.m. PDT
Our stint at 14,200’ has started to stretch for a bit, but we think we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Winds are forecast to drop starting Tuesday, and that looks to be the start of our window. We’ll look at moving up tomorrow, depending on winds, but if not, one more rest day won’t hurt before our big push. In the mean time, we’ve been keeping ourselves entertained by brushing up and sharpening our crevasse rescue skills, and today our avalanche rescue skills. Fourteen Camp on Denali provides a stunning backdrop for a classroom! While we’ve steadily improved our compound here into a quite comfortable home, we won’t be sad to put it in our rear view. We’ll let you know what tomorrow brings.
RMI Guides Pete Van Deventer, Jess Matthews, and Robby Young, and team
On The Map
You can do it! I’m sending you all beautiful warm weather from where I am right now, Croatia!
Posted by: Jamie on 5/30/2016 at 1:41 pm
So glad to hear that you are perfecting your skills for the last push. It terrifies me to think of what you might do tomorrow in order to reach your goal - crevasse, avalanche, rescue - these are scary words. Be safe and know that you’ve accomplished a great deal already.
Posted by: leanne on 5/30/2016 at 10:48 am
May 29, 2016
May 28, 2016 - 10:27 p.m. PDT
We woke with a sigh of relief to blue bird skies and calm conditions, though the winds up above were clearly stirring up a magic potion. With the morning came just a little heat to help us continue drying out after the storm. We had a strange desire for breakfast burritos this morning so we acted upon the urge. Given the continued strong winds up high we “just got to be” as life at 14 Camp continues. Numerous other teams took the elevator up the fixed lines to cache in hopes of taking advantage of the potential coming weather window these modern times and technology allow us to anticipate. We’d like to thank Rob Young, Sr. and Katie Van Deventer for being our personal forecasters. With views straight to the summit from where we sit, we’re staring at the gold on the ceiling patiently waiting for our time to climb.
Until then, give your heart away.
RMI Guides Jess Matthews, Robby Young, Pete Van Deventer, the Team and the Black Keys
On The Map
You’ve been so patient and it has to be so frustrating to see the prize just a short distance away! If it’s in the cards, you’ll summit. If not, better safe than sorry.
Justin, I filled Father Daniel in. He’s praying for your safety and your success.
Posted by: leanne on 5/29/2016 at 10:15 pm
You guys are SOOO close ... stretch out that food as long as you can! Justin, I’m all set for my travel arrangements, so take your time on the mountain (but stay safe and warm). I’ll be waiting for you in Anchorage when you get there!!!!
Posted by: Patrice La Vigne on 5/29/2016 at 3:19 pm
May 28, 2016
May 28, 2016 - 12:06 am PT
‘The Great One’ once again showed her might. Another night of hammering winds kept us from deep sleep. Despite unrelenting gales, Denali Storm Evans finally gifted us with sunny skies this morning. Today was a day to lick our wounds, repair and fortify camp, and dry our clothes; wet from the rigors of battling the passing storm. It was a day to be grateful for the sun.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch provided a dose of childhood nostalgia, followed up by Pete’s world famous power dinner; quinoa, lentils, squash, beans, and mustard. Our bodies and our minds still await our chance to experience the upper slopes of this great mountain. With mother nature’s cooperation, we’re hopeful this shall soon come to fruition.
Until then, Namaste.
Ditto what Leanne said ... we are all anxiously awaiting what’s next for you all and the news can’t come soon enough. Nine days at Camp 3. Is that a record? I know you are doing your best to keep your spirits up together and give it all you’ve got. Justin, can I promise you a foot rub for all your efforts? Hopefully that gives you just a little more stamina ...
Posted by: Patrice La Vigne on 5/28/2016 at 2:24 pm
Oh, the simple pleasures of life - sunshine, dry clothes, deep sleep. I hope all these things stay with you until you reach your goal and return home safely. Your friends in the lower half have been praying nonstop for your safety and health.
These blog posts are like letters from heaven. Thanks for keeping us informed. It’s our lifeline.
Posted by: leanne on 5/28/2016 at 10:37 am
May 27, 2016
May 26, 2016 - 11:29 pm PT
Tonight’s dispatch will be short courtesy of Storm Evans.
Everyone is doing well but very occupied with shoveling out our tents every 45 minutes as the 60mph wind that is ripping through camp fills everything back in with spindrift. Not the most pleasant day, and we certainly didn’t even entertain the thought of going anywhere. Hopefully the winds give us a reprieve and let us get some sleep tonight. We’ll touch base tomorrow.
On The Map
Hello Hitesh, best wishes from everybody at Home. hopefully, weather clears up tomorrow! take care.
Posted by: Paresh on 5/27/2016 at 9:16 pm
Hitesh. All is taken care of. Wishing you good weather!!!
Posted by: Rod Dubois on 5/27/2016 at 3:59 pm