Entries By tatum whatford
June 24, 2022
Thursday, June 23, 2022 9:41 pm PDT
We made the big move from 8,000 to 11,000 ft today. This was on mostly familiar terrain for us, of course. But the unfamiliar parts brought us into a whole new world. We set out at 5:30 AM from the base of Ski Hill in perfect conditions for mountain climbing. It was cool, shady and calm and the snow surface was frozen up nicely. We cruised right on past our food and fuel cache from yesterday and reached the head of the 46-mile long Kahiltna Glacier. What remained was a little steeper terrain on a feeder glacier, but we managed that hard work without any trouble and pulled into camp at 11 AM. Things had clouded up a little, which was a good thing, keeping the sun off us as we did the hard pull into camp. It was nice to be greeted by Andy Bond and his RMI team, enjoying their rest day at 11K. We set into the hard work of building a new camp at a new elevation. The clouds began to fade, and we were stunned at the beauty of our surroundings. Whereas the scenery from within the valleys has been great, now that we are getting up a little, we can start to see out. The glacial ice surrounding us is endlessly fascinating with giant walls and towers pitched at impossible angles. We napped away the intense sun that came with the afternoon. Dinner in a new camp with a new view was excellent.
Tomorrow we’ll go back down for our supplies.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn & Team
June 23, 2022
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 - 9:43 pm PT
We set out at 6:30 AM today for a carry of food and fuel. Skies were clear and winds were calm as we walked through the early morning shadows up Ski Hill. Ski Hill wouldn’t actually have been such great skiing with about a half dozen crevasses opening up, but it wasn’t bad for walking. We enjoyed great views of Denali’s steep South Face and of the rocky southern aspect of Kahiltna Dome. Our loads were considerably lighter than those we carried yesterday and we made good time. The terrain got easier as we cruised along the plateau before Kahiltna Pass. We cached at 9700 ft at about 10 AM, burying the supplies deep enough to thwart the ravens. It took just over an hour to descend to camp, by which time the sun was getting quite strong. We did a few camp chores before diving in the tents to snooze the afternoon away. It was burrito night on the Kahiltna. We filled up and most of the team was getting ready to turn in -under skies that had clouded up- by 7:30.
The plan is to move on up to 11,000' Camp tomorrow if the weather cooperates.
June 22, 2022
Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 10:02 pm PT
The alarm rang at 12:30 AM today. We sprang right up, ready to escape basecamp and truly get this expedition underway. Skies were clear -which was exactly what we were hoping for in order to get the glacier surface well frozen. Travel is easier when walking atop the snow rather than sinking in, travel is safer when the snow bridging crevasses is frozen solid, and travel is more pleasant when it is cool. We dressed up, had a breakfast together and then we split up to knock down tents and get geared for travel. There is plenty to do on such a morning. Especially the first morning for a team. We were still getting ready three hours later and finally the rope teams started moving at 3:40 AM. We began by going downhill to the main Kahiltna Glacier. It was hard work, trudging along on snowshoes under heavy packs and pulling fully loaded sleds. But it was made pleasant by the incredible scenery - it was particularly beautiful seeing the colorful early morning sunshine lighting the upper slopes of Mt. Foraker. We met a handful of guided teams “heading for the barn”. They’d been successful in reaching the top and were excited to be in the final stretches. Always enjoyable for the guides on our team to see friends from other companies and other continents.
Progress was steady and conditions were good enough. The glacier has obviously lost a lot of snow in recent warm and dry weeks and so crevasse bridges were sagging, but workable. We pulled into our intended camp at the base of Ski Hill (8000’) after about six hours. There was a fair bit of work -as always- to dig a new home in the snow, but we got it done and we’re able to dive in the tents so as to get some well earned naps and some time out of the sun. By our dinner in the dining tent, snow clouds were pushing in from the north and spitting moisture our way. Temperatures were on the chilly side as we did final chores and turned in for the evening. We hope to do a “carry” tomorrow, if given half a chance.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
June 21, 2022
Monday, June 20, 2022 - 10:04 pm PT
Greetings from 7200 ft on the SE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. Right where we wanted to be. We left Talkeetna in two classic ski equipped Otter prop planes and headed into the Alaska Range. Clouds were clearing and the views were stunning. The weather in this section of Alaska has been quite dry in recent months and so there wasn’t much snow left outside the range. We had great views of the giant, striped glaciers like the Ruth and the Tokasitna. We landed uphill on the SE Fork at about 11:15. Avery Parrinello’s successful RMI climbing team greeted us and helped us unload, since our then empty planes were taking them toward Talkeetna and home. We exchanged a few hugs and wished each other well and then our team set to building a camp. It was made just slightly difficult. -putting up tents- by our need to stop every few minutes to marvel at the scenery and scale of everything. Mt. Hunter towers over basecamp, seemingly straight up for miles. Mt. Foraker, at 17,400 ft just across the way, looks impossibly massive and formidable. Once camp was up, we dove into some training and review for glacier travel and crevasse rescue. We covered many topics through the afternoon and evening, aiming to have the team well-informed for travel in the early morning hours tomorrow -when the glacier surface is frozen solid. We ate our first dinner on the mountain in a quickly excavated dining room and then did a few last organizational chores before turning in early (in the still bright sun) for some rest.
Great start team!!! Yifei, you’ve got this!!
Posted by: Michael Freedman on 6/21/2022 at 11:31 pm
So exciting to follow!!! So impressive!!! Go, team, go!! Thinking of all of you and wishing you well. Go, Jim, go!!!
Posted by: Deborah Karmozyn on 6/21/2022 at 4:20 pm
June 20, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022 - 11:29 p.m. PDT
We got a lot done today! Lots and lots of work to get gear checked and ready for loading on airplanes, but it was the kind of labor that -- when you get it behind you -- makes you realize that fun is just about to start. It was rainy and drizzling in Talkeetna today, and there wasn’t any airplane traffic to and from Kahiltna Base Camp. The pilots we spoke to said it was only their fourth “down day” of the season -- which is a pretty remarkable testament to the good and stable weather that climbers have enjoyed.
We got started with a fine breakfast “meeting” at the hotel, introducing ourselves to one another. But then we moved out to the hangar to give gear checks and get sorted. We received our briefing from the National Park Service and caught up with current events on the mountain. Finally we weighed and labeled all the loads and with everything ready to go we quit for the day and had a nice relaxing outdoor dinner at the brewery in town.
Forecasts suggest we’ll get lucky in the morning.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn and team
June 19, 2022
Saturday June 18th - 11:52pm PT
The Denali team formed up in Anchorage this afternoon. We flew from Seattle and Frankfurt and Johannesburg and a few other places. Not every single piece of luggage made it through, but we have high hopes for getting it all together soon.
It was cloudy in central Alaska today, but we could see hints of mountains as we drove up toward Talkeetna. We made the traditional stop in Wasilla to round out our expedition food supplies, and then got on board the Denali Overland van once again for the final 90 minutes into Talkeetna. A brief stop at K2 Aviation around 6 PM allowed us to offload gear, and then we checked into our rooms at the Swiss Alaska Inn. The team made the short walk into town to relax with outside beers and pizzas. Town was busy and bustling on this endless summer evening. We went to the banks of the mighty Susitna River to see if Denali was visible, but the clouds stayed put and made us guess at what we were missing.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll meet over breakfast and dive into the details of packing and prepping for our Denali West Buttress Expedition.
Dave Hahn and Team
Good luck to all team members!
Stay safe everyone!
An adventure of a lifetime!
Posted by: Margaret Nolan on 6/20/2022 at 2:04 pm
You Go Jim!
Posted by: Gary Gustafson on 6/20/2022 at 4:36 am
June 13, 2022
The Five Day Climb June 9 - 13 enjoyed a beautiful sunrise from Ingraham Flats and Camp Muir this morning. Route conditions did not allow the teams to ascend above 11,200' yesterday or today but the team got in some good training and enjoyed two nights at Camp Muir. The teams descended to Paradise arriving around noon today and will conclude their program at Rainier BaseCamp this afternoon.
Photos: RMI Guide Eric Frank
We did training ascend on June 11 and went up to 11,000’ around 4 pm. I didn’t see any route conditions that did not allow to go further, I don’t have much experience though. Could you give more details on what route conditions stopped the group?
Posted by: Nick R on 6/15/2022 at 12:55 pm
What were the route conditions that did not allow you to go above 11k? Avalanche? Deep snow? Heading up this weekend and wondering what the current risks are from most recent teams.
Posted by: Kahlie Gleason on 6/13/2022 at 1:58 pm
May 30, 2022
The Five Day Climb May 26 - 30 led by RMI Guides Grayson Swingle and Dustin Wittmier were turned around by avalanche danger this morning near 11,400'. The team safely returned to Camp Muir they reported blue skies above and a cloud deck below around 7,000'. The teams left from Camp Muir just after 9 am on their descent to Paradise. We look forward to seeing them at Rainier BaseCamp later today.
May 24, 2022
RMI Guide Dustin Wittmier and the Kautz seminar team called 11,000’ their high point. This morning, Dustin reported that high avalanche conditions would keep them from climbing. Despite the route conditions, the teams enjoyed beautiful weather on their ascent, great views of Mt. Rainier, and were able to use their time to train and learn glacier travel techniques, anchors, and more to prepare them for their next big adventure!
The team will conclude their program tomorrow with a celebration at Rainier Basecamp.
August 31, 2021
From RMI Guide Hannah Smith: The Mt. Rainier summit is not guaranteed but the rising sun is. Gusty winds made for a high point at Ingraham Flats- short of the summit but still challenging. Our team is packing up and heading downhill shortly.