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Mt. McKinley Expedition: Walter & Team Staying Patient

Posted by: Mike Walter, Steve Gately, Solveig Waterfall | May 25, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 24, 2014 - 11:24 pm

Patience. Climbers looking to come to the big mountains of the world often focus mostly on physical training. I need the strength to climb this steep section, the strength to get to the top. What about the strength to wait out weather for a few days, a week,12 days!? Patience is a crucial component of the mental strength needed to not only succeed in the worlds great ranges but stay safe and return home. Luckily we have a great team that seems to understand this model and is doing a fantastic job of staying patient.

Today was actually a gorgeous day, blue skies and variable wind. So you might be asking yourself why are we still at 14,000’?. The problem here is that one great day does us very little good. We need 2-3 days of good weather. One good day to get to 17,000’ camp, one good day to summit and one last good day to descend. With our forecast calling for extremely high winds and 1-2 feet of snow tomorrow, moving to a very exposed 17,000’ camp would be foolish. So Alas! We must stay patient, hopeful and in good spirits, and it would appear we have just the team for the job. Plus I hear building snowmen is great for acclimatization!

All the best from RMI Guides Steve, Mike, Solveig and team!

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McKinley: Walter & Team Wait out Weather in Good Company

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 24, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 23, 2014

High winds aloft again thwarted our plans to move to high camp today.

The team enjoyed another rest day, and we have now joined forces with Pete VanDeventer and his team, who arrived a few days ago, and together have built ourselves quite the RMI compound here in the Genet Basin.
After breakfast, Mike, Steve, and I made a quick lap down to 11 Camp to dig up our cache and retrieve any usable food items, extra gas, and personal supplies to help us extend our stint on the mountain.

We were hoping to get some promising news from the weather forecast this evening, but it sounds like we are going to have to dig our heels in and hang on, as high winds and multiple feet if snow are predicted over the next few days.

On a positive note, we scored some brownies and oreo’s from a descending team, and thankfully Mike’s frozen Kindle came back to life.  We are now all happily entertained campers (and snackers) at 14,000’, prepared to ride out this weather system!

Small miracles….

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall & Team

Deep Snow at 14,000' on Mt. McKinley, Alaska. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Remain at 14,000’

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 22, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 22, 2014 - 6:44 pm PT
We had grand plans of moving to high camp today, and awoke early to clear skies above and relatively warm temps. We started stoves and began the process of packing sleeping bags and organizing gear, but before the water even had time to boil, a cap began to build on the upper mountain and lenticulars formed over Mt. Foraker to our south west.  We watched as plumes of snow, sublimating from the west buttress and 17,000’ Camp, began to stream to the south. 
Better to sit here at 14 camp and drink more coffee, we decided…. Although now we are out of coffee….
The team is in good spirits and we will keep you posted as the situation continues. Fingers aggressively crossed that this weather breaks soon!

RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall

The view from 14,000 ft on Mt. McKinley with Mt. Foraker in the background.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Rest at 14,000’ Camp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 22, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 21, 2014 - 10:15 pm
We rested today at the 14,000’ Camp, with plans in place to move up to high camp tomorrow and go for the top on Friday. We’ll see how that shakes out, as the latest weather forecast is calling for extreme winds up high for the next few days. This is a drastic change in the forecast from yesterday, which called for 10-15 mph summit winds for the next few days. If any body out there can pull any strings with the weather gods, now would be a good time.
We’ll continue to keep you up to date with our progress.

Cheers,
RMI Guide Mike Walter

The view from 14,000 ft on Mt.McKinley with snow block walls built to protect camp.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Make Carry to High Camp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 21, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 20, 2014 - 10:42 pm PT

Hi Everyone!

We awoke this morning to beautiful blue skies and calm winds.  Our team did an excellent job at being efficient and getting ready to make our carry.  We left just after 9 am, making us the first party out of camp, which proved to be a clutch move as teams behind us began to stream upwards and other parties reported waiting two hours at the base of the fixed lines to begin their ascent.  The carry was a good training exercise and everyone is now more comfortable cramponing on the steep blue ice and working their ascenders on the fixed ropes.  We timed it well, and were also the first group down the lines, putting us in camp early enough to enjoy some rest and relaxation in the sunshine with the boots off!

Tomorrow we plan on resting and rehydrating in anticipation of our move to high camp and summit attempt at the end of the week!
Thanks for following along! We are looking foreword to seeing friends and family soon!!

RMI Guides Solveig Waterfall, Mike Walter, Steve Gately, and the Team

Ascending the Fixed Lines. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Attempt to Carry but Fight the Winds.

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 20, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 19, 2014 - 10:20 pm PT
We had the stoves fired up bright and early this morning, preparing for an early start for our carry to above 16,000’. The skies were clear, the air was cold, and you could see snow blowing off the ridges at 17,000’ and above. As we left camp this morning the winds were just starting to pick up down lower. By the time we reached 15,000’ the winds were howling at 20-30 mph and it was brutally cold (ambient temperature was probably 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit). We quickly turned the ropes around and beat feet back to camp. We arrived back at camp amidst a ground blizzard and we all quickly retreated to the sanctuary of our sleeping bags to warm up.The winds continued into the afternoon before finally easing up. As I write this dispatch from our tent after dinner the winds are dead calm and the sky is clear above us.

Today was a good example of just how quickly conditions can change up here (and just how fickle the weather forecast is). Fortunately our team was prepared for mountain weather and we made the only prudent decision to return to the safety of our camp.

The weather forecast looks great for the next few days (for whatever that is worth), and we’re optimistic we will be able to put in a cache up high tomorrow, as always, we’ll keep you up to date with our progress.

Cheers,

RMI Guide Mike Walter & Team

Windy Corner.  RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Training and Enjoying Time

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 19, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

May 18, 2014 10:50 pm PT
Shortly after finishing dinner last night some light clouds sauntered into camp and began lightly snowing on us. Soon thereafter the winds kicked up and we had a moderately noisy nights rest with the wind sending our forecasted 6” of snow into outer space. This morning we awoke to clear cold skies and virtually no wind. Foraker stood to the Southwest with a few stacked lenticular clouds and the normal sprawl of Alaskan tundra was replaced by a sea of clouds. Today was another scheduled rest day for our team and we spent it reviewing fixed line and running belay techniques which we’ll utilize on the upper mountain. We also took a short stroll across the glacier to check out a feature known as “The Edge of the World”. This is the point at which the glacial plateau at which 14 camp resides on abruptly drops 6,000-7,000 ft to the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. The team enjoyed the exposure and enormous views of Denali’s “West Rib” and Mount Hunter. We also enjoyed our first sense of scale as we had a clear view down to our first camp at 7,800 ft and could finally get a sense of how far we’ve come. The weather stayed great for us today despite a forecasted low pressure system said to be moving through. Tomorrow we plan to tackle the fixed lines and move a cache of gear to just over 16,000 ft which puts us in great shape to wait for a weather window and ultimately our summit bid. All in all the team is doing fantastic, moral is high and folks are excited!

Best regards from Denali

RMI Guide Steve Gately

The view from the Edge of the World.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter and Team Rest at 14,000’ Camp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 18, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,200'

May 17, 10:31 pm PT

The team spent today resting and acclimating at 14k Camp. Winds up high were strong today and about a half a foot of snow is forecast for tomorrow. We’re all healthy and happy in our well-built camp. Hopefully the weather will break soon and we can put a cache in up high.

During the day, RMI Guide Solveig Waterfall and I teamed up with some other guides and climbed up above camp to establish the fixed lines on the headwall that go from about 15,500’ to 16,200’. The previously existing lines were buried in ice and damaged to the point of being unsafe and unusable. Now that we have good fixed ropes up there we all feel better about the prospects of safely climbing higher with our team.

With the weather forecast as it is, we plan to take another rest/acclimatization day tomorrow. We’ll be in touch and keep you up to date with our progress.

RMI Guide Mike Walter

Sun break during a storm at 14,000'.  Photo: Dave Hahn

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Settle into 14,000’ Camp

Posted by: Mike Walter, Solveig Waterfall, Steve Gately | May 17, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

We woke this morning to pretty robust winds at our 14,000’ camp. After breakfast and hot drinks we headed back down to retrieve the cache we left a few days ago at Windy Corner (13,700’). The winds subsided and we had a busy day between the back-carry, building stout walls for our camp, and digging out a kitchen tent. Everyone worked hard today and is doing well with the altitude.

The weather forecast is calling for some pretty strong winds for tomorrow, so we’re just planning on resting until conditions improve and we can put a cache in up high. Hopefully the winds will subside sooner rather than later.

That’s it for now. We’ll check in again tomorrow.

RMI Guide Mike Walter and Team

Climber digging out Cache. RMI Photo Collection

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Mt. McKinley: Walter & Team Movin’ On Up

Posted by: Solveig Waterfall, Mike Walter, Steve Gately | May 16, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mount McKinley
Elevation: 14,000'

It’s a bit colder up here at 14,000’ than it was at 11K Camp this morning, but we are all excited to be moving uphill again and enjoying new surroundings.  We left a an hour earlier than our usual time in anticipation of the extensive work of building a solid camp once we arrived at our destination.

It took us just over five hours to get here, and as is normal this time of the season, there were no established camps that had been vacated and available for us to move into.  Everyone fueled up and we spent the next four and a half hours building tent platforms and cutting and stacking blocks of snow to build walls and protect us from the wind.

It’s been breezy and snowing on and off throughout the day, and after a quick dinner of potatoes, gravy, and Hormel Retorts, we have all jumped into the warmth and shelter of our nylon chateaus.  Tomorrow we plan to return to our cache at Windy Corner and retrieve our additional food, gas, and personal snacks.  Everyone is excited about this!

All the best from RMI Guides Solveig, Mike, Steve and the team here at 14K!

An RMI team building a block arch on Denali. Photo: RMI Collection Looking through Camp Walls at 14,200' Camp. Photo: RMI Collection

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