Saturday, May 26, 2018

AMS Denali and Course Updates - May 26, 2018

May 26, 2018 - AMS Denali Expedition and Course Updates:

It is another sunny day on Denali and in the whole of the Central Alaska Range and our teams are loving this weather and opportunity to acclimate and stay on schedule!

May 13 Expedition led by Michael Gardner: Are taking a rest day at 14,200' camp today. Yesterday they carried gear, food, and fuel to the ridge at 16,200'. Tomorrow they plan to move to 17,200', high camp. They are doing well, enjoying mountain life, and the good weather.
Awesome views from 14,200' where AMS practices efficient running pro techniques before climbing higher on the mountain.

May 18 Expedition led by Nate Emerson, moved to 14,200' today. Yesterday they rested at 11,000' camp. All is well with them on this beautiful day.
AMS Team at 14,200' setting up and moving into a snow camp they built upon arrival

May 20 Custom Swiss Expedition led by Nate Opp today they pick up their previously cached food, gear, and fuel at Windy Corner at 12,500' (aka a back carry), which acts as an active rest day and aids in acclimatization. Yesterday, they moved to 14,200' camp.
AMS team retrieving a cache at Windy Corner.

May 20 Expedition led by Jeremiah Phelps is doing well. They moved to 11,000' camp today. The other day they were able to carry some gear, food, and fuel higher on the glacier to cache, at about 9,800' feet.  Tomorrow they will likely take an active rest day and back carry to pick up their cache at 9,800'.

11,000' camp with fresh snow.

May 24: 12 Day Mountaineering Course with James, Wes and Eric are doing great on the Pika Glacier - they are learning skills to live and travel safely to travel the glacier to the climbs.
AMS kitchen life on the glacier.

  May 25 Custom CCTV Expedition led by Kai Girard flew into the Alaska Range today on time today to begin their climb, they are super organized. This experienced team from China has been a pleasure to work with and AMS is very pleased to be a part of their expedition and film production.
View of Denali's South Face from Kahiltna Basecamp.

AMS Custom CCTV Denali West Buttress, Girard 5/25

AMS Team led by Guides Kai Gerard and Dave Wade flew to the SE Fork of Kahilitna Glacier to begin their expedition.  They were really organized and prepared for the expedition.  They had a busy morning of skills review, lunch and off to the airport.

We look forward to hearing from them!

Guide Dave Wade helping with harness

Fixed line ascension

Director Colby Coombs seeing the team off


Thursday, May 24, 2018

AMS Denali Update

All AMS Denali teams are doing well  - Everyone stayed put, because it has been snowing with low visibility at all of our camps since last night. The weather appears to be clearing now, so all is well - everyone is enjoying the rest.  

Clearing skies in the Alaska Range, crevasses and snow bridges require us to travel roped together for safety. Photo: AMS archive 

May 13 Expedition led by Michael Gardner: is settled in at 14,200', the moved in last night and then the snow started to fall, so they are enjoying a rest and acclimatization day today.

May 18 Expedition led by Nate Emerson are resting at 11,000' camp today, they too are experiencing snowfall and enjoying camp life with fresh snow fall.

May 20 Custom Swiss Expedition led by Nate Opp are resting at 11,000' feet today, and are shoveling and are taking an acclimatization and rest day.

May 20 Expedition led by Jeremiah Phelps are resting and honing snow camping skills at 7,800' camp. They are sorting loads and will be ready for the carry upwards when it clears.   

NPS Image of Denali's West Buttress Route

10 Day Mountaineering Course, Bunch 5/24

AMS Instructors Wes Bunch, Eric Roberts and James just flew to the Pika Glacier.  They are teaching a private 10 day Mountaineering Course.   The team had a busy day gear checking, lunch packing and having a few classes here at AMS.

Guides Wes and Eric watch James practice fixed line ascension.

AMS Guide Wes Bunch, James, AMS Guide Eric Roberts

Previous course on Pika Glacier

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


May 23, 2018, ALL IS WELL WITH AMS DENALI TEAMS!  Whoop, whoop!
Overview photo of the West Buttress route, by C.Erickson

FYI from AMS: Denali Expedition Travel: Caching and Acclimatization
Once climbers have arrived at a camp, the next move for will be to make a "carry." This means bringing a portion of food, fuel, and extra equipment they will need higher on the mountain above them at an elevation between their current campsite and the next higher campsite. Once they arrive at the desired elevation they "cache" these items. To cache is to dig 1-2 meters deep hole in the snow, where it will keep the items away from the curious ravens. Carry days are typically lighter than move days and allow climbers to scout the route ahead. This process of climbing high and sleeping low is a key step in acclimatizing for the climb of Denali. 

Mountaineer's Adage: "Carry high, sleep low"

May 13 Expedition led by Michael Gardner: we are waiting to hear their final events of the day, however: the normal course of events will have them either resting at 11,000' or moving to 14,200' today...  our bets are on the move to 14,200'! We will update you when we hear. What we do know is that ALL is well (we find out very quickly if there is any problem).

AMS Camp at 14,200'  with Mt. Foraker dominating the background. Photo: Tom Torkelson

May 18 Expedition led by Nate Emerson had an active rest day today at 11,000', they descended to 10,000' to pick up the extra gear, food, and fuel that they cached the other day. Now they are back at 11,000' enjoying the views and a hot dinner.

May 20 Custom Swiss Expedition led by Nate Opp moved to 11,000' today. They are a small, experienced team and have made excellent time. Congrats guys!

AMS photo by Amanda Erickson of the view from 11,000' looking at Kahiltna Dome 
AMS photo collection (by Mike .Janes) of 11,000' camp with solid snow walls built ready for wind and weather.

May 20 Expedition led by Jeremiah Phelps arrived at the 7,800' camp yesterday and planned to carry to 9,800' on the Upper Kahiltna Glacier today. They are avoiding any heat of the day and are climbing on a night schedule - when the snow conditions are frozen resulting in faster movement. It's also extra peaceful at night.
AMS photo by Amanda Erickson of the views from 7,800' camp, looking at the NE fork of the Kahiltna toward the West Rib and Cassin routes.

AMS photo collection of climbers traveling on the upper Kahiltna glacier 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


It's May 22nd, the sun is shining and everyone is happy.

Here's what happening with the AMS Denali Teams...

AMS at the 11,000 foot West Buttress Camp - the route to Windy Corner clearly shown in fresh snow. Two AMS Teams will be here tonight.

May 13 Expedition led by Michael Gardner has carried extra food, fuel, and equipment to the Windy Corner area at 13,500', they enjoyed the well earned sunny skies today. They will be sleeping in their camp at 11,000 tonight.
Windy Corner

May 18 Expedition led by Nate Emerson moved camp from 7,800' to 11,000' today. They are doing very well, and send hellos!

AMS moving between 7800' and 11,000. This is the top of a climbers landmark called Skil Hill. Stunning views.

May 20 Expedition led by Jeremiah Phelps flew in yesterday afternoon with all smiles - before they flew in they practiced crevasse rescue systems in Talkeetna to build their safety skills - The teams' plan was to move from 7,200 Kahiltna basecamp to 7,800' camp early this morning.
Kahiltna Basecamp with towering Mt. Francis.  photo: Josh Hoeschen
AMS Crevasse rescue system on the glacier. Photo S. Bremer

May 20 Custom Swiss Expedition led by Nate Opp has moved to 9,400' camp and are strong and super organized. This advanced small team is traveling on skis so they can make faster time on the relatively flat glaciated terrain between basecamp and the 7800' camp on the Kahiltn Glacier.

AMS on the Kahiltna Glacier, moving camp to 7800'.

Monday, May 21, 2018

5/20 Custom Denali West Buttress/Opp and West Buttress/ Phelps

Kahiltna Basecamp runway with Talkeetna Air Taxi plane landing, Mt. Foraker standing graciously in the background. Recent Photo by AMS student Nate Beatty 

AMS climbing teams flew onto the Kahiltna glacier today with no weather delay. The well-oiled custom team from Switzerland was efficient in their packing and flew early. Everyone is psyched to have their chance to climb the tallest mountain in North America. Jeremiah's team has a couple returning climbers, one from a mountaineering course and one from a previous Denali attempt. We always enjoy seeing return faces and meeting everyone from around the world! 

Go teams go...

AMS custom Denali team: Claude-Alain, Cedric, Peter, Guide Nate Opp, Guide Simon, Andreas, Diego

AMS May 20 Expedition(upper L) Guide Jeremiah Phelps, Tima, Ralph, Keith, Elton, Alex, Tom, Guide Chelsea, Guide Sammie, Ryan, and Gisleine

Sunday, May 20, 2018

5/9 Mountaineering Course, 12 day: Holmgren and 5/15 Mountaineering Course, 6 days: Girard RETURN!

AMS twelve had quite the adventure with a traverse from the Kahiltna glacier to the Pika glacier in snowy weather. The students took turns navigating and breaking trail, shout out to Eddie for breaking trail through lots of snow. They had at least one icefall to navigate. The crew was made up of folks living all around in Alaska and an east coaster. They enjoyed cooking three-course meals in the great outdoors and it took everyone a moment to adjust back to the creature comforts of town. Go team go! 

AMS twelve day traverse from Kahiltna to Pika, photo by Eddie Kampelman

AMS twelve day traverse terrain, photo by Eddie Kampelman

AMS twelve day on their traverse hanging in the outdoor kitchen, photo by Eddie Kampelman
AMS guide Larry checking in group gear after an awesome traverse with Eddie, Caitlin, 
AMS twelve day traverse route from the Kahiltna to the Pika glacier led by guide Larry Holmgren and Lexie Hunsaker

AMS six-day team made the most of their time in the Pika while exploring some peaks and learning a lot.
Photo by AMS guide Kai of the six-day team climbing on the Pika Glacier. 
AMS six-day mountaineering course teamwork unpacking and washing dishes. Local Alaskan Zach bringing the good energy... 

AMS guide Kai unloading group gear


We have had a busy day here at AMS both at the HQ and on the Mountain.

With generally overcast skies, warmer temps, and no precipitation we are still making movement and are able to get in and out of the mountains with our friends at Talkeetna Air Taxi.

Here is the latest with AMS Teams:

May 13 Denali led by Michael Gardner have texted in, they are doing well! Today they moved to 11,000'. Yesterday they moved up to make camp at 9500' on the Upper Kahiltna Glacier.

10,500' on the Kahiltna Glacier, making the move upwards to 11,000 camp.

May 18 Denali led by Nate Emerson were delayed by a day but flew into the Alaska Range early this morning. They used their time wisely in Talkeetna and will be ready to make their way to camp one at 7,800' tonight if conditions permit.

Kahiltna Basecamp

Tomorrow we will launch two Denali Expeditions, our May 20 scheduled expedition and custom Team from Switzerland.  Please look for a separate blog post about these teams with photos of gear check!

5/18 Denali West Buttress, Emerson

AMS Team Photo this morning in their Denali action suits ready to climb! 

AMS Denali West Buttress team led by guide Nate Emerson, Jake Kayes, and Alma Johnson launched this morning after a one-day weather delay. It is starting to green up in Talkeetna while these folks have been flown back into winter world on the Kahiltna glacier. The basecamp manager has reported snowfall every day from May 9-13th with a collective storm total of 91 cm or approximately 3 feet.  We wish this great team luck on their trip up the West Buttress route of Denali! 

AMS team photo before flying onto the glacier 

AMS guide Alma teaching classes during the weather delay

AMS guide Nate Emerson teaching fixed lines to his team