Entries from Alaska
May 21, 2019
Monday, May 20, 2019 10:59 pm PT
I was up this morning early to keep a close eye on the weather in anticipation of a potential move to 14k Camp. Puffy cumulus clouds clung to the surrounding terrain features and were lapping in and out of camp like the tides at about 6AM. Our forecast was calling for an 80% chance of snow showers and increasing south winds into the evening. I opted to give the weather an extra hour to show it’s true intentions. I could hear the noises of other teams rustling around, presumably preparing for their own move to 14k Camp. I’ve seen plenty of deceiving mornings here in the Alaska Range luring you to trust that the forecast was wrong, as if so often can be. I ultimately didn’t like the look of it. The team has worked hard for five days now and a full rest day seemed appropriate before committing ourselves to the higher altitudes of the mountain. So we slept in until about 9am and made a wonderful breakfast of eggs and hashbrown burritos that lasted nearly until midday. By then the clouds had overtaken camp and it began to snow lightly. By 1pm the snow intensified and the forecasted south winds showed up early and turned camp into a whirlwind of snow that made it hard to see across camp. Wrapped snugly in our warm bags we all felt good about our decision to take an extra day. It’s not always you get such confirmation of a decision well made but today we did and it felt good all the while snuggled up in our warm bags reading and snacking the afternoon away. Tomorrow’s forecast looks much more promising and we’ll repeat the process of waking up early, sticking our heads out the tent and making another decision. Hopefully this time we’ll like what we see and we’ll get to move on up! Thanks for following along everyone!
On The Map
Sign Up For Denali Expedition May 13, 2019 Emails
Hi Steve. Bruins swept, sitting and waiting on a 3-2 blues over sharks series. Chara still 7’0” on skates and moves like a sack of pea gravel. Go Red Wings.
Posted by: Wild Bill on 5/21/2019 at 11:08 am
May 14, 2019
Three times is a charm, I guess. On our third flight trying to get to Basecamp over the past few days, we had good clear skies and smooth sailing and finally made it in. After a few hours of repacking our gear, rigging our sleds, and digging a cache hole, we set off for our first camp at the Base of Ski Hill. The Kahiltna Glacier was in great condition and the weather was nearly ideal; mostly cloudy with the occasional snow shower - which kept temperatures from getting too hot. We made it to camp with full packs and sleds in tow in just under six hours. Today we’ll carry a cache of supplies up a couple thousand feet and then return to camp. We’ll keep you posted.
On The Map
Sign Up For Denali Expedition May 8, 2019 Emails
Good luck to everyone!
Posted by: Richard Kalish on 5/14/2019 at 9:03 am
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!