Entries from Alaska
June 15, 2018
Friday, June 15, 2018 - 6:00 PM PT
And it is a wrap up!
The Alaska Alpine Climbing program came to an end. After 7 days of straight climbing with no rest or weather days, we flew out on time to beat the bad weather without risking getting stuck on the glacier. All in all, success all around! A changing weather morning made us pack up quick and the word was out from our pilots at K2 Aviation that heavy winds might delay our pick up; other areas were shut down for flying! In a record time we dismantled our camp and we were pulling our last load into the Pika Glacier Runway as the plane showed above us. A bumpy ride to Talkeetna brought us to the land of beer and pizza (and showers!) and after unpacking and cleaning our gear, the team enjoyed a nice meal as we shared the best moments of the trip. We already made it to Anchorage, and everyone is off to home. As for the guides, we’re already looking forward to our next expedition in 2019!
On The Map
June 14, 2018
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 12:04 AM PT
Good evening again from the little Swiss! Another day, another summit! Or summits I should say… the group split and the 2 rope teams headed in opposite directions, towards the east and west ends of the upper Pika Glacier. On one side, a team surmounted the Munchkin. On the other, the South Face of the Middle Troll, a towering rock formation that, with its splitter granite cracks and balancing boulders, provides delicate yet rewarding climbing and the most radical of the views. The weather has been perfect, and we’re now going to bed tired, but accomplished and with a full stomach after a quite good pesto pasta dinner!
RMI Guides Elias de Andres Martos & Chase Nelson
It is so nice that all of you return back safely.
Posted by: Xu Guoliang on 6/14/2018 at 7:51 pm
June 12, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 8:15 PM PT
Good evening from the Pika! We’re back from another great day of climbing in Little Swiss. Today we took advantage of the cold temperatures, and climbed a route up “The Witch’s Hat”, the southernmost formation of the cirque of mountains around our Base camp. Several pitches of steep snow, ice and mixed climbing brought the team to a narrow summit where we enjoyed a well deserved rest to our calves after the endless front pointing with our crampons. All accomplished by another objective tackled in this program, we’re about to enjoy a burrito dinner at camp.
Good evening everyone!
RMI Guide Elias de Andres Martos
Please tell Christina be careful and we love her so much. Christina’s Dad and Mom
Posted by: Guoliang Xu on 6/14/2018 at 12:06 am
June 12, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 2:08 PM PT
Good evening! What a day we had… Another alpine objective tackled! We had some snow overnight, so we dragged our feet to see what the weather would do. It warmed up enough to melt the light snow from the rocks, so we decided to aim for a rock route. By 1pm we decided to head to the “Throne” one of the biggest formations in the Pika Glacier. We climbed the “Lost Marsupial” route, a long moderate route among the clouds, above some planes that brought tourist to the glacier, and into the evening (that’s what we get to enjoy climbing in Alaska, 24h of daylight) a great pasta dinner followed our arrival to camp. After dinner, we went to bed right away, as we’re planning an early departure for our next objective.
June 11, 2018
Sunday, June 10, 2018 - 12:56 AM PT
Good evening from the Pika Glacier! Another great day for the team. We started the day shortly after midnight, and headed to the “Guard Tower” formation, about one hour north of camp. Summiting during the permanently lit Alaskan night was special, despite the lack of cold temps we were hoping for in order to have better snow conditions. Back at camp before mid day, we had a good lunch and nap, and the afternoon found us ice climbing out of a nearby crevasse. We didn’t seem to be affected by the long hours of activity today, and the conversations prevailed at the dining tent for a while. It seems that the weather is changing, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
RMI Guide Elías de Andres Martos and team
June 9, 2018
Good evening from the Pika Glacier, on the Alaska Range! We had a great first day of activity today. We had a late afternoon flight in yesterday, and the pertinent camp building marathon. Today, with blue skies, we ventured down Glacier to the “Hobbit’s Footstool” rock formation for practice; besides some rock climbing-cragging, we reviewed a lot the rope systems that we’ll be implementing in the upcoming days. Everyone enjoyed their time on the glacier and rocks, but the hit today was definitely the steak dinner.
We’re now headed to bed, waiting for a better day of fun on this incredible area of the Alaska Range!
Regards RMI Guide Elias and the Alpine Climbing Team.
Tell Hugh his mom says be careful
Posted by: Peggy on 6/9/2018 at 1:17 pm
The Alaska Range draws hundreds of climbers every year. Guarded by Foraker, a seldom climbed 17K ft peak, and by Mt. Hunter, the most difficult 14er in North America, Denali, “The Big One”, is without a doubt (and for well-deserved reasons,) the main climbing goal of intrepid mountaineers from all over the globe. Dozens of other smaller, but no less beautiful peaks, are overseen by most of those whose dreams of the altitude are set on reaching the roof of the North America continent. Right at the start of their journey, across from the landing at the South East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, lies Mount Frances, a satellite at the very terminus of Denali’s South Buttress.
This year, climber Brian Phillips, came with his mind set on Alpine Climbing in the Range; a good plan to tackle fun, full body climbing involving the implementation of the techniques practiced over the year of ice, snow and rock climbing. With our current conditions and weather forecast last week, we decided to put our eyes on the South West Ridge of Frances. An objective that can be done in a long full day of climbing. After all, we had one week to climb (another of the beautiful things of Alpine Climbing in Alaska, is that one doesn’t need to plan for an entire month, and 7-10 days allow for a great deal of fun!!!)
Upon landing on the glacier, we started our decked-out camp. When you know you’re constructing your home for a full week, it better be good! Beyond fortified walls around our flattened tent platforms, making a decent kitchen, with snow benches to sit, eat and socialize on is key. A good two hours of digging, and our crafted living space was ready to be enjoyed. We didn’t get too comfortable that very first night, as the forecast, unlike what the predictions said, was too good to let go, and after early bed, we woke ready for action.
The SW Ridge of Frances is a moderate route that involves steep snow climbing, only separated by pitches of fine, moderate rock climbing. While none of the steps are very difficult, it is very sustained, and for hours on end you are always “game on” mode. An early start granted frozen snow to move on on the lower part of the mountain, which made us gain progress fast. Soon enough we’d be climbing rocks, and without realizing, the alternation of both terrains, was the constant for the day. Plotting along, the early evening would come, and high on the route, we could keep an eye at the Denali Base Camp, and the many climbers that eventually circumnavigated us, at ground level, totally unaware other human beings were up there. We tackled the last rock pitches as the sun wanted to dip behind the horizon, but in the “Land of Midnight Sun” it never would. We continued the progress now towards the summit, on the frozen ridge that connects the false one to the true one, tip toeing around cornices, a couple crevasses and long ice cliffs beneath us. It was dinner time when we got to the top, and even though we knew that descending the East Ridge was a mere two hours back to the comfort of our Base Camp, we stuck to the plan of bivouac on top. How special could it be to see the alpenglow of both sunset and sunrise over Hunter, Foraker and Denali? It was almost cloudless, and we had carried a small bivi tent, sleeping bags and a stove anyways. So we stayed. Tired but accomplished and cold but warm inside, the night blended with the day, and sooner than we noticed, the bright sun was again over us and now, time to head back down before the snow softened further. The East Ridge, our descent route, had been climbed several times the previous week, even a ski descent, so with a good track, we were back at our camp in a mere two hours. We had gone up and down, in style, fully climbing up a peak and we were proud of it! Alpine Climbing in Alaska at its best.
May 28, 2018
Sunday, May 27th - 11:00 pm PST
What a day of rope work we had under the most amazing back drop of Mount Hunter. We went through different knots and how to build a variety of equalized snow anchors. Then we put it to practice and had everyone take turns going into a deep crevasse and the team would build a pulley system to bring them out. This was an Alaska style crevasse which means it appears bottomless and cold. We had so much fun exploring the glacier up close and personal. The team’s rope skills are great but we hope to avoid using the rescue skills as we head out tomorrow to move camp up the Kahiltna Glacier. After such a big day of playing on and in the glaciers, we all treated ourselves to two hot chocolates after a delicious dinner of tortellini with sun-dried tomatoes.
Goodnight from the glacier!
May 28, 2018
Monday, May 28th - 12:20 am PST
It was a perfect day to cruise up to 11K Camp and find a new home. Where most of yesterday was dead calm and pretty warm with strong sun, we had a light but really cold breeze running through camp in the morning. It died right before we started walking and suddenly we were cooking in the solar oven. Just as we were about to explode into flames, the breeze came back, from straight ahead, and we went the direction of ice cubes. We dug quickly into our mountains of clothing and were back in comfort land. Having previewed the terrain yesterday, today was a breeze, and we cruised into camp like a hot egg salad. Now we are nicely installed in our new home for the next few days. It’s snowing lightly, and beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everyone is healthy and psyched. Tomorrow, we chill, then we will keep looking upward.
On The Map
Seriously took me a minute to find the right blog!
You guys are all smiling and climbing - I know you must be excited for the climb ahead.
Have fun and enjoy every minute!
Love you Rich
Posted by: Susie and the Kids on 5/31/2018 at 5:25 pm
Checking in again. So happy to see the progress. It’s time for Steve to come home… the bachelorette season has started and I know how much he loves the show !! ;)
I’m loving all of the pictures.
Sending my love and best wishes to everyone.
Posted by: Misty on 5/28/2018 at 11:08 pm
May 28, 2018
Monday, May 28th - 12:20 am PST
Perfect is not common in the mountains, but we had it today. The skies were clear and calm for the flight into the Alaska range. The snow was firm which makes the climbing easier and we had warm sunshine with a cool breeze to keep us all just right, not too hot-not too cold. Everyone moved well with their heavy pack and full sleds into our first camp around 7800 ft and enjoyed our first mountain dinner before sliding into our sleeping bags. All in all a great first day on Denali.
On The Map
Where are you guys on Tuesday? So thrilled for you all. Looking due North and thinking of you
Posted by: Mumzie on 5/29/2018 at 9:01 pm
Life sometimes seems so short so “if you are not living on the edge you are taking up too much space”
Posted by: Carolyn mills-meyer on 5/29/2018 at 7:19 am