Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thanks for the great '07 season!!

A quiet AMS headquarters.

Lisle, happy 'cause she's jumping up and down on Colby's stomach.

We had an awesome and successful season this year. We had over 70 climbers climb with us on various expeditions and 170 plus students in our courses.

The last of the Mountaineering Courses ended in the middle of September. We still have a Wilderness First Responder recert course coming up on the 28th of this month. Now, we're relaxing a little bit gearing up for next season. The applications are starting to roll in for the '08 season. Our Mt. foraker expedition only has 2 spots open for the early May '08 departure.

We are excited to announce our partnership with Big City Mountaineers and Summit for Someone. We are doing two trips with Summit for Someone in '08. Check out their websites. They are both amazing outfits.

AMS is also getting a new website and it should be up and running by the middle of October. We sad to say that Ina will be leaving AMS to go to work for a non-profit avalanche education school run by one of AMS's senior guides/instructors, Blaine Smith. Julia Crocetto will be answering the phones and keeping AMS cranking through the winter. She's excited for the challenge and we're excited to have her on board.

Colby and Caitlin are busy working on the website and taking care of their cool little daughter, Lisle and keeping track of their new birds, Luke the Duke the dog and James 007 the kitty and of course Sam the horse and the chickens whom don't have names that I know of.

Rob Gowler, the Operations and Staffing Manager will be working remotely all winter season from Moab, Utah and Baja, Mexico.

Hopefully we'll see some of you up in Talkeetna for the 2008 mountaineering season.


The Alaska Mountaineering School.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jason to return to Talkeetna

Melis called in this morning with the news that their team will start descending from 14,200' camp tonight due to the high avalanche danger at Denali Pass. They still have to climb to high camp at around 17K' to retrieve the gear and food which was carried up there previously. It's always unfortunate news when trips have to descend early but this is one of the few aspects of climbing in the Alaska Range... the unpredictable weather and conditions. The up side is that the last few days have been amazing. The entire range is visible from Talkeetna with practically no clouds! What a way to end the climb.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mike Hamill, homeward bound

Mike, Elliot and the boys are leaving 14K tonight to head back to basecamp. They sat it out up there at high camp for 5 days, but didn't get a window. That's the way it works sometimes.

Hamill hasn't not made it to the top for a long time.

Melis is still hangin in up there. She's sticking it out with Dave Hahn and his group. They are still planning on heading up when they get a good break in the weather. They still have lots of time. I did not talk to her today though.

We have a 12 day mountaineering course hoping to get in early tomorrow, so if all goes well Hammy and crew will get to come out first thing in the morning on the plane that the course went in on.

Now you know as much as I do.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Happy 69th birthday Pidgeon Man.

Melis, Jason, Todd and Larry are still chillin at 14 and Jason is "having a magical time".

Melis said they were eating like kings up there. They've been chowing hamburgers, salmon, cheesecakes etc. All kinds of stuff you wouldn't expect to get up there. Nevil Percy Smith left them a bunch of food when they vacated the 14 K camp.

She said it is crappy weather above and below them. It sounds like they are hangin in the sun and everyone else on the mountain is not.

They are just waiting for their window to move up to high camp. They are all doing fine. in fact Melis said they are strong.



Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mike Hamill resting at 17,200'

Mike Hamill just phoned in and reports that everyone is feeling great at 17,200' (high camp) today. He said the weather was good at high camp right now. Mike and the team took a rest day today and have been assessing the snow conditions for their summit attempt. During the recent storm system, the normal route up to Denali pass received a lot of wind deposited snow and there is evidence of avalanches on the route making it unstable for travel right now. The alternate way up is a more direct route through some rocky areas. They have lots of time, so they will wait to see what happens with conditions and the weather. They are sitting pretty and ready for good weather and conditions.

- Roger, The comment about Jaro's pants made Mike laugh, he'll pass on the message.

Mike said he thought Melis and the team would make their way to high camp tomorrow.

Let's hope that a nice, big high pressure system is in their future!

All for now,

Monday, July 9, 2007

News from Melis

Melis called in this morning. Beautiful day in the Alaska Range! Rainy and overcast here in Talkeetna but the range was still wide open! Everyone is doing well! Still a ton of food and fuel at 14,200', therefore Melis sent Todd and Larry to carry more gear, food, and fuel higher up the mountain. Melis is taking it easy with a happy Jason and did a little climbing to around 15,000 feet. Depending on weather and conditions, they're planning on moving to 17,200 either tomorrow or the next day. In the meantime, Jason says "Leg feels better and having a FANTASTIC time"!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Melis and crew at 14,200'

Melis, pulling down in Croatia.

Melis called in and she tells us that everything is GREAT with them at 14,200' and they have a 100 days of food and fuel. So, they won't be lacking hot water and hot meals. I can just imagine the amazing hot lunches they are making, hot soup and quesadillas anyone? It is still a ping pong ball up there, they are sitting in a cloud that is just hanging out with them at that elevation. It is clear above them at high camp but it it STILL very windy up higher.

And just so you all know, I am able to give Melis the messages/comments that you are leaving here for Jason, Todd and Larry. Have a good day!


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Life inside of a ping pong ball.

Life inside of a ping pong ball is how guides often describe being in a whiteout.

Mike and crew are in a white out right now up at 14. There is no wind though, so they're not stuck in a gnarly storm or anything. I'm actually not sure if it's snowing real hard or if they're just inside a cloud.

He said his crew is super strong and psyched. They have carried up onto the 16 ridge already and are just waiting for good enough weather to move up to high camp.

Mike said that Melis had just rolled into camp, but he had not had time to talk to her yet. I'm sure we'll hear from her soon.


Update from Melis

Melis is planning to move to 14 K today and all is well with them.

Yesterday, they carried to 13,500' in a snow storm, there was so much snow they used snowshoes all the way to windy corner, they said the conditions were great. Todd's birthday on the 4th was super they had pizza, ice cream and fireworks all thanks to Melis, I think she gets the ice cream maker award this season! Larry contiues to be the bird whisperer of the Kahiltna Glacier.

They all say " What's up cuz" to Robby G. (yes that's you, Rob)

Jason says " Hi to all his bitches back home." He said that message didn't need to be edited for the blog...

Update from Mike Hamill and Louis Sass Teams

All is well on Denali here are some updates for everyone, sorry for the delay!

- Mike Hamill is at 14K all is well with them. They are resting there today.

- Louis and Bayard's team are back in Talkeetna. Welcome Back!!! The team continued to see very high winds up high so they descended from 14K on Thursday night. They had to wait a basecamp all day before the weather was good enough to fly out. All except Louis flew out last night, when the weather closed in, leaving Louis to spend another night on the glacier. No worries though, he came out this morning and is chatting with the team, completing paperwork, packing up gear and generally enjoying the green of Talkeetna's summer! Denali and Sam had a good rest in the AMS tents and LOVED their hot showers this morning.

All for now,

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

Louis called in recently to let us know his group is still sitting tight at 14,000'. The upper mountain has been seeing quite a bit of wind so they haven't been able to move yet. They're hoping to give it another try later today. A few messages from his team:
Denali: "Enjoying the Chill phase... getting ready to ATTACK"!
Sam: "Yo"
Bev: "Doing good"
Enjoy the 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Big Mountain Updates

Nate and Mike called yesterday with news from their group. Looks like they're making the difficult choice to descend today. Both Zoltan and Krisztina have flights to catch and they're planning on making them. They'll be pulling their cache from 16,200' and we should see them in a few days.

Melis called this morning. Everyone is doing great and making a cache at 10,000'. Their plan is to move to 11,000' tomorrow. Today is overcast and rainy here in Talkeetna, but Melis said there's nothing but blue skies right now where they're at. There's a few birthdays happening... the assistant guide, Todd Tumolo is having a birthday tomorrow on the 4th of July on the highest mountain of North America! Jason has a message to send out also... "HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLEO"! The last news from this group; Larry has made a friend with a bird on the Kahiltna Glacier. They're not sure what type, but Larry's catching fly's and feeding the little guy who is sitting on his shoulder. Not sure if the bird should be up there, might've gotten lost, but Melis said it was happy and nice and fat yesterday!

Melis also passed on news about Mike Hamill's group. They're currently at 11,000' and most likely planning a move to 14,000' tomorrow. Everyones extremely strong and they've been making a few single carries up the mountain.
Until the next post!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Our last two teams for the 2007 season

Todd, Jason, Larry and Melis at the airstrip

We thought they might not get in last night but the weather lifted and both Melis and Mike Hamill's team made it in. Melis, I believe is still in base camp doing classes and will be getting ready to move out and get totally onto a night schedule. They will all travel at night during the coldest part of the day. They will be doing this all the way up to 14 camp presumably.

Elliot Gaddy and the boyz, Mike Hamill not in photo.

Hamill's team should be at the bottom of ski hill right now. They passed Marchy and Leighan at the bottom of heartbreak hill early this morning. Leighan said the glacier wasn't too bad. It froze last night or came pretty darn close.

We'll hear from both of these teams in another day or 2 perhaps when they get cell reception.

That's all for now.


Louis Louis

Louis's gang is resting today. They made a a carry up to the top of the fixed lines yesterday. All is good up there. They are planning on heading up to highcamp tomorrow if the weather is nice. If the weather is marginal they will hang out and try it the next day.

It's foggy and cloudy today up at 14 with light snow. One of our guides called down from 17 today and said it was windy up there and they were sitting tight. Sounds like perfect rest day weather.

Part of Marchy's team made it out this morning. Leighan made it out with the Bob, Mike, Bill and Chris. Hopefully Christian and the rest of 'em will be out later. The weather is kind of junky right now in Talkeetna, but is nice at basecamp. We just need it to lift a little here.

Best of luck.


Friday, June 29, 2007

A small update from Louis

Photo: Louis Saas

Louis is hoping to carry up onto the Ridge tomorrow. The weather seems like it is going to remain good enough to make a carry. Everyone is still having a good time up there. From Talkeetna, today, it sure looked like a nice day up there, despite the winds up high.

That's all the info I have for now. I'm sure we'll hear more from others soon.

Mike Hamill and Elliot Gaddy are heading in tomorrow for one of our last departures for the season, as is Melis Coady, Todd Tumolo and Larry Holmgren.

Both of these crews are finalizing their packing today and making adjustments to food and fuel loads based on all the updates from the mountain on how much food and fuel other groups were able to leave for them. One of the perks of a late season trip: a little lighter.

We'll let you know as soon as we know more.


News From Marchy at 17,200'

Today is Marchy's Team "Up or Down Day" and the wind is still high up there so they tried their level best, but are coming down today. That is just the way it is in the mountains, moves are always dictated by the weather. The team is also taking a couple of other folks down from other groups this afternoon. They had some pretty tough weather with their waiting at 14K and with this last stint at 17K. They all worked hard up there and we can't wait to see them back in Talkeetna safe and sound sometime in the next few days.

All for now,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

More News from Big-D

Spoke with all the trips on Denali again today. Here's the latest and greatest:
Louis and Bayard just rolled into 14,200' camp today. Denali says "Way cooler than Antartica". Bev and Sam: "Super excited to be on the mountain". Everyone is doing well and they're most likely going to rest for the remainder of the day.

Marchy's group: At high camp. Everyone is doing great and happy to be there. Super strong crew.

Nate and Mike's trip is going well. They're at 14,200'. They rolled in yesterday and are planning on spending the next 4 nights there. They'll do a back carry today and carry up to high camp either tomorrow or the next day.
Another beautiful day here in Talkeetna!

Updates from Big-D

We had a few calls last night from the mountain. First one came from Nate Opp and Mike Janes crew. They're camping at 14,200' and today they will be doing a back carry to 11,000'.

Louis and Bayard's crew is at 11,000' and planning another day sitting tight. They'll most likely make a move higher tomorrow or the next day.

Good ol'Marchy is at high camp with their crew and are waiting for their summit window. Everyone is doing good and enjoying the beautiful day. That's all the news for now. Until the next post!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

June 19 Denali West Buttress with Guides Louis and Bayard

I just hung up the phone with Louis, he was calling in from 9,500' on the Kahiltna Glacier. They carried their extra food, fuel and equipment to 11,000' today and will move there tomorrow. They are in a whiteout storm, as they have been for the last several days, it is blowing and snowing, today they have about 6 inches of fresh snow in their camp. They can still move up to 11,000' camp tomorrow even in weather like this, they have put in a wanded trail today, so it should be good going tomorrow, despite the blowing and snowing.

A few messages from the team:

From Denali to her family: " See you in 30 minutes, having a great time."

From Sam: " Yo"

From Rip: " I don't have a computer." - author's note: Rip lives way out in the Alaskan bush, you can only get to his place by plane.

From Bev: "I'm having a great time and enjoying the scenery."

Mike, Nate, Zoltan and Krisztina are settled in at 11,000' having a rest day. It is pretty windy above them so they will wait to carry until the weather is better. I am sure they will be happy to see Louis team roll into camp tomorrow.

All is well!

- Caitlin

Team Kahn with Melis and Kirby Back at Basecamp

Team Kahn with Melis and Kirby are back at basecamp on the Kahiltna Glacier waiting to fly out. Well done Team Kahn on negotiating the lower glacier with the fresh snowfall, that should make for some good stories! It has not been flyable for the past several days, so we hope that the weather clears up enough for them to get back to Talkeetna in the next few days.

It's not a raging storm out there, it's just not good enough visibility for the airplanes to get there and pick them up. All planes flying in the Alaska Range are under a Visual Flight Rules protocol, because of the nature of mountain flying. They must be able to actually see where they are going versus an Instrument Flight Rules protocol where there are no obstacles in the way, like at 30,000'!

I'm sure they are hanging out in their tents, taking short walks, visiting with other waiting climbers and day dreaming about eating burgers and fries.

NEWS FLASH! When I just spoke with Louis he said he saw Team Kahn on their way out and said they looked great!

We'll see them soon!


Saturday, June 23, 2007

A few different updates.

Marchy is waiting out marginal weather and teaching classes at 14K. Nothing new up there.

Louis called in from somewhere around the 9,500' area. They are doing great and plan on carrying up to 11K tomorrow and moving up to 11K the following day. They are hanging out in a bit of a snow storm. That particular area is notorious for snow squalls. A lot of the weather gets funnelled over from the North through Kahiltna pass, just above the where Louis and Bayard's crew is right now. All is good.

Louis ran into Nate, Mike, Zoltan and Krizstina today and they were heading up to camp at 11K. He said they were all doing well. there is zero cell reception from 11K so we most likely will not here from Nate and mike until they roll into 14K.

Melis and the rest of the team, I heard through the grapevine were waiting at the bottom of ski hill until tonight when it gets colder and then they will travel across the lower glacier to base camp. There is no cell reception at the bottom of ski hill (7,800' camp). We expect them to roll into base camp early tomorrow morning and to hopefully see them tomorrow as long as it is flyable.

That's all I got right now. Sounds like all is well for everybody up there right now and we'll update all of you when we know more.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Marchy (A.K.A.) The Appalachian Mountain Samurai.

The Myth, the Man, The Legend. Christian March

Not much more to report. They're resting today. He said the weather looks like it is changing a bit. The winds are picking up higher up on the mountain. What does this mean for our June 12 Denali folks? Who knows? The weather can change very quickly up there. Sometimes, storms last for days and sometimes storms last for hours.

Melis and Kirby are still chillin in 14 as of a 1/2 hour ago. Supposedly it's raining on the lower glacier and they are going to try to avoid that. They are in no hurry and may or may not leave the comforts of 14 camp.

Later, Rob

Update From Melis Coady and Team Kahn

Guide Melis Coady phoned in last night at 8:30 p.m.

She and her crew are doing well, they descended to 14,200' yesterday, Thursday. They are doing "the hang at 14K" and will make their way towards basecamp and will fly out sometime in the next few days, weather depentant of course. We can't wait to see them!!!

As is typical for Alaskan summers, there are several large fires burning in the state. The big fire burning right now is between Talketna and the south side of Denali National Park. Yesterday we had tons of smoke in Talkeetna and it even delayed flights in to the mountains to pick up climbers and for flightseeing tourists. Team Kahn has been watching the smoke from high on the mountain since it started burning several days ago. It can create some dramatic skies.

Good work Team Kahn and we look forward to your stories!

- Caitlin

Thursday, June 21, 2007

News from Denali!

Got a couple calls this morning... first one from Talkeetna Air Taxi letting us know that Postle and crew are in basecamp and awaiting a flight. Should be back at AMS around 10:30-11:30. We have a little watermelon to wet their parched, dry, sunbaked lips when they arrive. This team did an amazing job and still managed to come back a few days early. Yeah!

The second call came from Nate Opp and Mike Janes. They're setting a cache at 10,200 feet and then heading back down to 7,800 feet for tonight. Everyone is doing well and enjoying the gorgeous weather!

Third call came from Kirby Senden on Melis and the Kahn's trip. We couldn't understand everything from the message but got that they tried for the summit yesterday and were turned down due to weather. They're currently at high camp, 17,000 feet, and are hoping to try again for the summit today.

That's all for now. We'll keep ya posted AMS style!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birthday

Mark Postle wanted me to wish his mom a happy birthday.

That funny looking guy (Mark Postle) and his merry group of summiteers will be leaving 14 tonight to head out to base camp.

It's perfect weather up there right now.


Marchy at 14!

A self portrait (almost) of part of Marchy and crew heading toward 14 with windy corner in the back ground.

He said his group was "good, real good!" "Strong, Man".

Now they are going to get set up and dug in and go to sleep until the sun hits them in the morning and forces them out of their tents. That'll be sometime around 10:00 AM if I remember correctly. Then they'll go get the cache, just down from camp about 20 minutes, (20 min. down, but an hour or more coming back up the hill to 14K) Too bad it can't be down hill both ways, eh?

From here on out, lots of things come into play as far as what they do next and when.

We'll keep you posted as we find out what they are up to.


Kahn's going for the Big View!

Melis called in this morning saying "Another beautiful day"! Everyone is doing great, strong and happy at 17,000 feet. They are heading for what Rob called the "TippyTop" since this may turn out to be another day just like yesterday... one of those perfect days. We hope to get news from them later and will post again as soon as we do.
Good luck to Melis, Kirby and all the Kahn boys!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Most guides are just a little funny looking, see... This is Mark Postle about two days after his last summit, only a few weeks ago.

Postle called in from the top AGAIN. Every one of his folks made the top. I think he also said they were wearing t-shirts.

All was casual and they will, hang out up there for awhile and head back down to 17 in a bit.

If any of you want to click the link to the south side webcam on the side of this Blog, you'll see they do not have any weather to worry about what so ever.

Today's summit day is one of those days you might describe as the best of the best. Some people might say that about Postle too "the best of the best"), and if they don't say that, I'm sure at least they say he's a darn nice guy (and funny looking).

He also said that Melis was moving up to 17 today. She might even be going for the summit tomorrow. That's all I know there.

Louis and Bayard's trip made it into base camp this afternoon and are planning on doing classes tomorrow in camp and then heading out.

Nate Opp and Mike Jane's also made it in to base camp and will be moving out tonight. They are with Zoltan and Krizstina from Hungary.




Christian called in from 13,500', which is on the 14 camp side of windy corner. They were making there cache in Hawaiian shirts he said. Super warm. Perfect conditions. They are going to head back to 11 and move up to 14 tomorrow assuming the weather holds. Everyone is doing really well and send their best to all there friends and family.

Christian didn't really have much to say, just that all is well.

He did say it looked like a good summit day.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Update from Marchy's Group

Climber's at 12,000 feet of Denali's West Buttress route.

Christian (aka "Marchy") called in from Kahiltna Pass at 9700'. Cell reception is really good due to the clear weather. Today the group is picking up their cache as they move to 11,200' camp; a little behind on schedule due to the weather days at the beginning but nothing significant. Everyone is doing great and really strong. They're enjoying the day and celebrating Chris Wood's 21st birthday! What a great way to do it Chris!

A few messages:
Big shout out to everyone at AMH!
Much love to the brunette beauty!

And the newest verse from Marchy...
"From Haites to heaven
8 Souls take their ride
Sure enough, climb with
in that they take pride"

If the weather stays good tomorrow they'll be moving to Windy Corner at 13,500'.
Good luck guys!

June 12th Denali, West Buttress Expedition

Finally a post about the June 12th Denali expedition; sorry for the tardiness! For those of you wondering, Marchy & Leighan's group was weathered in Talkeetna until the 14th. They got into basecamp that morning bright and early. They had made an attempt into the range on the evening of the 13th but cloud's socked in basecamp before they got there preventing the plane from landing.

The last few days have been amazing however! Practically not a cloud in the sky with just a slight breeze. Ideal! According to this groups itinerary, they should be at 11,000' camp and carrying to 13,500', at Windy Corner soon. We typically don't receive any calls from groups until they reach approximately 14,000' due to cell reception and weather so hopefully we'll get a call soon. When we do you can expect another posting.
Until then!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A quick update from Mark Postle at High camp.

Since Postle's group did so good getting to high camp I thought I'd give a brief update.

They made it to high camp in 6 1/4 hours! That is almost unheard of. Mark said his pack weight was half what it normally is (I seriously doubt that), but everyone probably did have lighter packs than normal.

No one is overly tired and if the weather is absolutely perfect they will consider going for the summit tomorrow, otherwise they will rest. I understand where he is coming from. Some years you don't get all that many summit windows and you have to take advantages of the ones you do get.

Mark said High camp is a ghost town right now. There were only 4 other tents there when he moved in. They are just chillin and brewing up right now. He said the weatther report sounded a bit dubious but for those of you (if any) who have been following this blog, you'll have already heard my opinion about the weather reports, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!

That's it. Those guys are doing awesome and MArk sounded confident. He said he'd call me tomorrow regardless, yeah right, I've heard that before.


Team Kahn June 6 Denali Update

Team Kahn, the June 6 Denali departure's, lead guide Melis Coady phoned in at 10 pm Friday night, June 15th. She said that they were enjoying the awesome weather on Denali and their plan is to carry food, fuel, and extra equipment up to 16,200' today, they are all doing very well!

She relayed messages from the team:

From Ed:
To Hana: " I love you, I wish you were here."
To Alica and Alesandro: "It's a little colder here but you would still love it."
To Rachael and Erik: "It's like nothing you have ever seen."

From Joe:
To Nancy: " I love you and Becky good luck at camp."

From Samuel:
To Mom: " I had a great birthday party, I had ice cream that rivals Dad's."

From Brian:
To Mom, Becky and Maggie: " Life is good at fourteen thousand feet, my backpack weighs more than both of you."

I am sure we will be getting more updates from Melis, Kirby and the guys in the near furutre!


May 29 Denali Summit!!!!

A summit photo from back in the day. For the last several years our Denali climbs are capped at
6 climbers.

Tork called in this morning from High camp.

His entire crew summitted yesterday in perfect weather. To all their friends, you can look forward to some shaweet photos. The views from the summit ridge are glorious.

They went up in 9 1/2 hours and down in 3 1/2 hours for a total summit day of 13 hours. That's a pretty normal summit time. Tork said everyone did awesome yesterday and are still strong.

I just talked to him a little while ago and they were packing up camp and getting ready to head down to 14K.

Mark Postle, the AMS lead guide right behind Tom is heading up to high camp as we speak. Tom and Mark's teams are doing the, elusive, often talked about but rarely done..."14, 17 tent swap.

This means that neither group has to carry the weight of tents up or down for that move. This makes a big difference.

I'm not sure what Mark's plans are as I did not talk directly to him, but I imagine they will take a rest day at high camp. They are in no hurry.

Tom plans on hanging out in 14 until tonight, when it gets colder and heading out latter. Their plans are to make it down and out for tomorrow, but he said since they still have extra time they might just take their time coming down and shoot for flying back to Talkeetna on Monday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mountain Update

Greg Collins called in from 14,200' today to check in and give us a mountain report. He is now on a personal trip on Denali but you may be interested to know that he along with 6 other friends skied the Messner Couloir yesterday and they are planning another ski descent on the mountain as long as the weather holds. He said he hopes to be back in Talkeetna in a few days and is looking forward to a hot shower! Good luck to Greg and his ski buds on the mountain!

The June 5 Denali climb with Mark Postle is at 14,200' and having a rest day today. All is well with them.

The May 29 Denali Expedition with Tom Torkelson is rumored to be going for the summit today. We have not heard from them directly but if they really have gone for it today the weather couldn't be any better.

Greg said that you could be up there in a T-Shirt today!

Stay Tuned,

Kahiltna Dome Expedition Update

One of the many views from base camp, The Moonfloiwer Buttress on the North face of Mt. Hunter.

Everybody headed up to climb Kahiltna Dome last night. They left camp at about 10:00 PM, this time of year at those elevations we climb and travel at night to make use of the freezing temperatures making the climbing conditions more favorable.

The group ended up turning around at about midnight due to poor avalanche conditions. They made a very wise decision. I think people sometimes learn more about hazard evaluation and etc. from turning around as they do from reaching the summit never having encountered danger.

Earlier in the season there were two climbers killed in an avalanche on a private expedition in a different area of the range. Tim and Lindsay are both very conservative and very knowledgeable about the snowpack and know when to say when.

Their plan is to head back to base camp and do some more classes back there. They should be there by now as this message was left last night at about 7:15 PM. They were going to go from 9,800 foot camp to base camp at 7,200'. Obviously that is mostly down hill but they have to go up the seemingly never ending heartbreak hill to get into base camp.

We won't hear from them until they get out from the mountains. 9,800' camp is the last place they will get cell reception.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kahiltna Expedition Going for the Summit!

Tim called in last night at 9:00 pm to let us know that his crew is doing great and they were going for the summit. It's typically to climb like this late at night to take advantage of cooler temperatures. I'm sure they had a great climb since this morning there's practically not one cloud in the sky!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tork at 17,200' - High Camp

Climbers building camp at 17K. Brian Okonek photo.

Tork and crew are installed at highcamp and EVERYBODY is doing really good. They made it up there in 9 1/2 hours, which is very respectable.

He said the weather looks good and the report the weather service is giving backs it up. Their plan right now is to take a rest day and go for the summit on Friday if the weather holds.

That's all he had to report.

Greg and Sam's team are all off the glacier. As of right now Greg and Sam are still stuck at base camp. There is 55 other people waiting to be picked up from Base camp too, so our air service, Talkeetna Air Taxi, will launch the fleet if and when they can and pick up all the base camp dwellers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another upper mountain update, Tork, Postle, Melis

Tom Torkelson called in a bit ago. He said the weather was good at 14,200' but the visability wasn't all that good (probably some clouds were floating around them). He was pretty certain that his whole crew was going to head up to high camp in the morning. This move day from 14 to 17 is a hard day. I bet it takes them somewhere between 9 and 12 hours. He said they will take a rest day the following day and go for the summit on Friday. This is all depending on the weather of course. So take this plan with a grain of salt. Tom's group took a hike up to 15,600 feet on the upper rib today for a little acclimatizing.

Anja, a climber from Jared VIlhauer's West Buttress expedition, joined Tom's group. The rest of Jared's group headed down several days ago. Anja is a strong addition to the crew. Anja has climbed the direct Polish Glacier on Aconcagua with Tom this past winter.

Tom handed the phone off to AMS Guide Mark Postle, so I talked to him as well. They are all doing well. They rolled into 14 today I believe, and are planning on back-carrying tomorrow and then front-carrying to the 16 ridge the following day, then rest and then move if all goes well.

Postle said he had been hanging with Melis' team down at 11K and said she and her crew looked and felt great and, weather depending of course, they were planning on heading up to 14 tomorrow.

The June 12 Denali West Buttress departure with guide, Christian March just got word from our air service , Talkeetna Air Taxi, that they were not going to be able to get them in to the Kahiltna glacier tonight, so they are on hold until tomorrow. They were hanging out doing classes aroud the shop all afternoon.

That also means that Greg and Sams group did not make it out of the mountains and will be back to Talkeetna at the earliest tomorrow morning if the weather cooperates and there are not too many people ahead of them in line to get out.

And that's it.

Toodaloo, Rob

I have no photos to post, I'm on someone elses computer, sorry.

Kahiltna Dome Expedition Doing Great!

Tim called today for a quick update. Everyone is at camp 4, approximately 10,000 feet and practicing self arrests. Their plan was to head for the summit tonight but they received a little bit of weather earlier today. Their plan is to rest tonight and go for the summit tomorrow given good weather and conditions. As we hear, we'll update.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Photo of "Tork" aka Teton Tom

Torkelson and Jeff are at 14 and all is well. They have been reviewing all of the necessary skills needed to travel safely higher up. He is hoping to move up to high camp tomorrow. Everyone in his group is doing well.

That's all for now.

p.s. Claire, I sent Sandro your wishes of a 1000 kisses. (that rhymes :-)


Kahiltna Dome

Here's a photo with Denali in the background with the summit of Kahiltna Dome in the immediate foreground.

Tim and Lindsay's team is at 9,800 foot camp and doing great. Tim said "an hour ago it was stormy and now it's 'bluebird'".

Today is Lindsay's Birth day. Happy Birthday Lindsay!! Tim dragged a cake from the roadhouse in his sled for her.

They will be doing more classes all day tomorrow and weather permitting, climbing Kahiltna Dome the following day. Everybody is having a good time.

Update from Kahn & Postles Crew's

We recently had a call from Melis and the Kahn crew. They're sitting pretty at 11,000 feet and today will do a back carry to 9,700 feet to pick up more supplies. They're planning to take a rest day tomorrow and do some skills and class reviews before heading further up on the mountain. Everyone is doing well, strong, and according to Melis "still family". We most likely won't hear from them until they reach 14,000 feet which may be a few days. As a note to family, the Kahn's cell phones do not work on the mountain.

In other news... Postle's crew is making their way to cache at 13,500 feet today and should be heading back to 11,000 feet tonight. Everyone in this expedition is also doing well and enjoying the climb, especially after an amazing day yesterday... the weather was phenomenal!
Until the next post!

West Rib Team Back at Notch Camp

Guide Greg Collins left a message earlier today telling us that they made it safely back to Notch Camp at 1:40 am this morning.


We look forward to having this team back in Talkeetna sometime in the next couple of days.



Greg called down from the football field at 9:30PM while descending from having summitted with the whole crew. They are going to reverse their route back down to notch camp at 16,400 on the rib. All is well and the weather is still fine.

Nice job!!!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Breaking Upper Rib News - Mountain Update

Greg Collins and the Upper West Rib team just called in and said they are at the top of the rocks at 18,200' on the West Rib, they are on their way to the Summit as I type. During the phone call they were hooting and hollering in the back ground - so all sounded well! GOOD LUCK!!!!!

To clarify our previous posts about these guys: They had talked about changing plans and going for the West Buttress when the snow conditions were not optimal on the Rib, but since then the snow has become nice for climbing on the Upper Rib so they are on their way up now and very happy to be doing so. Things change constantly in the mountains, we just have to go with the flow and do our best to keep you informed, sorry for any confusion. Stay tuned for more on these guys!

The May 22 Denali Departure with guide Jared Vilhauer and his crew came out this morning they had a good experience and a lot of fun with all of their time spent at the 14,200' camp. There was tons of nasty weather up high so they stayed put, making a smart safety choice.

Jared reported to us that the May 29 Denali Departure with guide Tom Torkelson (aka "Tork") and team did arrive at 14K on June 8th. The weather is nice up there today. I have not talked to Tork yet, but we hope to soon.


Sunday Weather forecast

Here's an up to ate picture of the weather in the mountains

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Greg and Sam at High Camp

A viwe of Mt. Huntington from the summit ridge of Denali.

Greg's boys shoed up at high camp this afternoon in good weather and Greg said it looks good for tomorrow.

They are going to give it a go. He said everybody is doing really good.

Shaweet!! and Gooooood luck!


Kahiltna Dome June 8 departure, Tim Hewette

The 2007 AMS Kahiltna Dome Expedition: Guides; Tim Hewette and Lindsay Howk, and climbers; Drew Tegeler, Daniel Wuestenberg, Brian Fry, Jesse Tanner and Aaron Millner were packed and ready for their scheduled departure on June 7th, but the air taxi said it would be better to wait until the weather cleared a bit. It cleared a bit in the later evening, but still not quite good enough to fly.

The first thing on the moring of the 8th, the weather cleared and they flew in! I am sure they didn't miss a beat once they landed on the South East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. The field reports tell us that the weather is glorious on the Kahiltna Glaicer today.

We probably won't get too many updates from this team, as cell phone reception is spotty for most of the way to the Dome. You can rest assured that we will update you if we hear from them!


Melis and Kirby's team.

Here is a picture by Brian Okonek of camp at 9,700' where the Kahn clan will be sleeping tomorrow night, weather permitting.

I just listened to a message from Melis about ten times to try to hear it all.

The only thing I could hear for sure was that they were making a carry up towards the top of ski hill and they were doing great.

She said the weather is and has been nice where are but looks not so good above 11K. They will be returning back to sleep at 7,800' camp and hopefully moving to 9,700' tomorrow.

The rest of the message was just some chit chatting small talk that I could not make a word out of.

Melis and Kirby both are very fun and extremely patient and conservative, and while her folks were a bit nervous starting out, I'm betting they are a lot more relaxed now. Climbing Denali is a one day at a time mountain and it is understandable how people cam get overwhelmed, especially after seeing all the intimidating photos posted up all over town, in the restaurants, cafes, ranger station and National Park Service climber briefing, everybody, including guided groups must attend.

That's all for now, Melis sounded like her regular happy self.


Friday, June 8, 2007


Jared just called a little while ago. Several groups tried moving up to high camp on the West Buttress today. All of them turned around and returned to 14K due to high winds.

Greg and Sam's team, as it turns out, never even left camp.

Jared said the weather looked a little didgy below 14K as well so he was going to feel it out, and either leave later on today or first thing in the morning.

That's the latest.


The latest...

Heading down around windy corner

I've got a few updates for everyone.

The weather has gotten a little bit better up on the upper mountain. It is still fairly windy up there but they're calling for another increase in wind speed by this afternoon. Who knows how accurate that weather forecast will be. I never listened to the wx reports when I was up there 'cause they are wrong so often.

Jared and Chris's crew has had enough. They have been stuck at 14 for 10 days now I think. Today was their "up or down" day. They are pretty much out of time and are heading down. Jared and Chris are going up the fixed lines to the 16 ridge to retrieve their cache of gear up there. They will most likely depart from 14 this afternoon and time it so that they are on the lower glacier during the coldest part of the night. It was a tough decision they had to make this morning whether to go up or to go down. They felt that with the weather conditions they have today and the conditions they feel they are going to have later today and tomorrow and the lack of time they have left, they would head down.

Greg's crew on the other hand has more days left than Jared's team. They also are moving VERY quickly and Greg feels that they can safely make it up to High Camp. Greg's original expedition was slated for the upper rib of Denali, but they are going for the slightly less difficult West Buttress option hoping to increase their chances of summitting.

Tom Torkelson's team is at 11K camp and have been experiencing a little bit of what Denali can dish out on the mid mountain. While usually not as severe as the upper mountain, it can get pretty tough there. Sometimes more snow falls at that elevation and while you might not have the 100 mph winds you might have 50+ mph with more snow falling which is why we say Denali is a blue coller mountain, 'cause of all the digging and wall building needed to fortify camps, etc.

I have not heard from Tom today, so I do not know if he is moving up today to 14 or not. I do know that he has a cache in at the corner and is poised to move up as soon as they get the chance.

We have 3 other expeditions lower down on the mountain that are not in cell phone range yet, no updates yet on them.

stay tuned


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

14K freight train

Wind plumes coming off of the 16 ridge. I think it is a bit windier up there right now than this photo shows.

Jared called in again from 14K. He said it looked a little better this Morning and they thought about heading up, but by 7:30 AM it was Nuking again. Some other random parties have tried to make it to the 16 Ridge over the last several days and no one has even made it above the bottom of the fixed lines.

They are still hanging in there and patiently waiting for a weather window. Greg's group is still hanging at 14 as well.

There are some other parties that have been "doing battle" at high camp for well over a week and have been unable to go anywhere.


June 5, West Buttress Departure

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Talkeetna! A great day to start an expedition! Mark Postle and Josh Hoeschen, along with John Davis, Neil Murphy, Jared McFaddin, Dan Walters, John Quillen, and Erik Jansen's expedition started without any hitches and were able to fly to basecamp around 4:30 pm. According to their itinerary they should be practicing and reviewing glacier travel and crevasse rescue today at basecamp, in preparation for the haul up the mountain. I'm sure they're all working on their racoon tans as today is another practically cloudless day.

They'll start to move tomorrow on their way from basecamp (7200') to 7800'. It'll be hit and miss on communication until they reach 14,000' due to cell reception but we do hear from other groups coming off the mountain. We'll update the blog as soon as we hear anything. Until then!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The 14 hang.

Photo of a couple folks hangin at 14K.

Jared called in for a quick update. His and Greg's crew are still waiting it out at 14. Jared said it sounded like a freight train up at high camp. They should definitely be psyched they are waiting it out at 14 rather than getting pounded up at high camp. Everyone is doing fine. Jared's crew is on day 7 at 14K and Greg's group has been there a day or two longer, I think. They should be nice and acclimatized for when they head up. Both teams still have plenty of days built into the schedule. I heard Greg's group was getting in some good, roped up, skiing.

I'm sure one of those crews will update us if and when they head up higher.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

May 29 West Buttress Departure, Tom Torkelson

"Tork's" group at the Ranger Station in Talkeetna the day the flew in.

Lead Guide Tom Torkelson phoned in from the 9,700' foot camp today and said that the whole group is doing really well! They will be moving up to the 11K camp tommorrow. They plan to stay at the 11K camp for 4 nights to acclimatize, during the days they will go to pick up some gear they have cached lower on the mountain, take some well deserved rest, and carry their food, fuel and equipment further up the mountain. They said to say hello to all friends and family and they sounded like they were all strong and having a super time out there. The weather today is beautiful, sunny and no wind.

We probably won't hear from them until they get to the 14,200' camp on June 7th or 8th, because the cell phone reception is poor at the 11K camp. But when they carry to Windy Corner in a few days they may get in touch from there. Whenever they call in we will keep you posted!


Friday, June 1, 2007

Greg and J Rad caching

Greg called down from their high camp up at 16,400 on the upper Rib. He said "all systems go". That's Greg speak for, everything is going as planned and looking good for the future. They were heading back down to 14K for the night. He did not say when they were going to move up to the high camp. But he has left gear up there on the ridge, so that is different from the last time I spoke with him.

Jared's crew was carrying to the 16 ridge on the Buttress today, that's the only update I got about them.

And Christian's group left 14K to head down toward base camp this afternoon annd should be arriving there late tonight or tomorrow.

I don't have any more info. I just got a phone message today.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Greg Collins giving an update

Denali with a lenticular cloud sitting on top.

Greg's boys are going to head up to 15,900 feet toward the rib and go work on some roped skiing techniques. They have been getting a lot of strong S.E. winds lately. This is the same thing that happened to Kevin And David's Upper Rib trip that forced them on to the Buttress. Greg's gang has not shifted their sites to the Buttress yet. They are not going to commit any material to a high camp on the Upper Rib though. Greg said their crew is strong enough to send it alpine style. That means that they do not stock camps up above and return to lower camps. This means that they go from 14 to a high camp and then up from there.

This is a great option for folks that are in good shape and acclimatized. They were also going to go "mess around" up by Washburn's thumb on the 16 ridge on the Buttress to further acclimatize. Everyone in Greg's crew is doing great.

Jared (" J-Rad") and Chris and crew have arrived at 14K after a long hard day yesterday. They rolled into 14 last night. They had left 11K yesterday morning and ran into strong winds at the top of Motorcycle Hill, just out of camp, and turned around and headed back down to camp only to have the weather get better and so they turned around and headed back up M.C. Hill and on to 14K. So they were pretty tired when they got to camp to say the least. They were planning on doing a back carry today and I assume they will either do a front carry up onto the ridge tomorrow or take a well deserved rest day.

Greg said it has been very cold and windy up high and there was a big ol' lenticular cloud up on the summit right now indicating high winds up there. Greg said he talked with Christian on the radio and his crew is heading down today. High camp is a very hard place to be in the cold and the wind. It doesn't sound like the weather is going to be good up high for a little while anyway.

I'll update more on Marchy's crew if or when I talk to him.


May 22nd West Buttress Expedition

We just received a message from Jared Vilhauer's group. They were able to make their way to 14,000 feet last night and today will be doing a back carry for the gear they left lower on the mountain. 14,000 feet is a great place to aclimatize. They'll most likely rest a bit and prepare for another push to their next camp at 17,000 feet. Everyone is doing well and in good spirits.
Till the next post!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Christian March, 17K

This is a photo By Brian Okonek of what our gang Led by Christian and Mike were probably doing last night when they were tired and cold and dehydrated: building camp. This is part of what makes climbing Denali so difficult. Having to build camps in crappy weather. Ideally you don't ever have to build camp in bad weather, but it almost never works out that way completely.

Christian got to 17 K last night. It was a nice day for a move in the morning when they left and all the way until they got to the top of "Thumb". As Marchy said "we got smacked by the wind". He reported steady 40 mph with gusts to 60mph.

They are all doing good but tired. That's pretty normal. 14K to 17K is a hard move in any weather and certainly much harder in windy conditions.

It's not too cold out up there right now and there is almost no wind, the visability isn't great.

Marchy says if the weather is splitter (perfect) tomorrow he will go for the summit. If the weather is marginal they will hang. They still have several days to wait out bad weather. If getting rested up is still a top priority it is better to hang in camp for another day unless it is absolutely perfect. Marchy knows when to go and when not to go.

So, all is good up there. They got a little taste of what Denali can dish out when it wants to yesterday. Those are often the things that people remember. We call it the full Denali experience. Anyway, they are no longer experiencing the full meal deal and are just waiting patiently for a window.

I'll keep you posted.


Flying out of Base Camp!

The weather is flyable! There are many many expeditions waiting in basecamp for the quick flight back to Talkeetna. Two of our expeditions that have been waiting for numerous days just arrived here at the office looking like they've visited the Bahama's! Robert Link and Kevin Mahoney's crews are currently unpacking and debriefing, happy and I'm sure looking forward to a nice cush bed, perhaps a burger and brew from a local pub.

Mark Postle's crew has arrived in base camp and awaits the flight to Talkeetna. Since this expedition just arrived there they are lower on the totem pole and will have to wait for other groups ahead of them to fly out first. As soon as this group joins us here in Talkeetna we'll do another post. For now, we'll put out some good fresh fruit (something these guys haven't seen in awhile) and listen to a few stories of life on the mountain!

Monday, May 28, 2007

May 23rd, Denali Upper Rib, Greg Collins with an uper mountain teams update.

Photo of Greg, "G Money", "G Dawg", "The Mutant" Collins, in his element.

Greg called in from 14K today. They rolled in to camp today after only 4 days on the mountain. He said it was snowing very lightly, maybe just orographic precipitation and the winds were non-existent. Every one on Greg's crew was psyched to move at a quicker pace than our normal expeditions. Everyone on his trip is feeling really strong and doing great. Greg said the snow is perfect for skiing. They have skied, skinned and ski cramponed their way up to 14 so far roped up at all times. Skiing with ropes, heavy packs, sleds and funky snow conditions is very tough at times. There is only one little 400 vertical foot slope they are able to ski right out of 14 camp with out a rope, otherwise the skiing they are doing is roped up. They plan on doing a quick back carry tomorrow to retrieve their cache at windy corner. Also tomorrow they, perhaps just Greg and Sam, will start heading up towards the Upper Rib to evaluate the route conditions. Greg said he will call in soon with more updates on his team soon.

Greg's team passed Mark Postle's gang today around windy corner while Greg was moving up and Mark was moving down. By now Mark has probably checked in with Jared V.'s group at 11K and has already moved out towards base camp (which is still unflyable at the moment and has been for a few days now by the way).

Jared's plan is to move up to 14K tomorrow, weather permitting.

Christian March moved up to 17K today. Most likely, that means that his group will take a rest day at camp tomorrow and then start looking for weather windows to go for the summit.

If it remains unflyable we will soon have 3 AMS groups in base camp waiting to fly out. It is first come first serve as far as getting out of there. I believe Robert is probably at the very top of the list since one of his team members already made it out (Solveigh) and Kevin and David I bet are near the top of the list as well. Once it gets flyable though, a couple of rounds with all of Paul's planes will clear out base camp and Lisa the base camp manager won't have anyone to hangout with anymore.

That's all for now. Hopefully the weather gets a little nicer and our teams can make it out of Base camp tonight.


Update from Jared's Expedition: Windy Corner

Climbers Heading down around Windy Corner.

I just heard from Jared Vilhauer's expedition, departure date on May 22nd. The group was able to make it to Windy Corner at 13,500 feet for a cache of gear and supplies. They're on their way back down to the 11,000' camp and will spend the rest of the day there. Their plan is to either move to 14,200' camp tomorrow or use it as a rest day to recuperate. Everyone is doing great and enjoying the climb. They all send their best wishes and greetings to their loved ones. We should hear another update from them in a few days.
Until then!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A message from Basecamp

Kevin just called. TAT (Talkeetna Air Taxi) got one plane out, with robert's assistant guide, Solveigh, and they sent in another round to get the rest of the troops out of base camp but it shut down for the night.

So, unfortunately Kevin, David, Robert and crew won't get out until tomorrow at the earliest.

Hopefully the weather clears a bit tomorrow.


May 23 Denali Custom Upper Rib, Greg Collins

We just heard from Greg, he phoned in from WIndy Corner where they carried to from 11K today and are putting a cache of their food, fuel and gear for pick up later. He said they had light snow, calm winds and good ski conditions. Everyone is doing really great on their team. They will go back to 11K tonight and weather permitting, they will move to 14,200 tomorrow!

Also he said that the May 22 Denali Departure with lead guide Jared Vilhauer is doing well at 11K, we will most likely hear from them directly when they move to 14,200'.


May 8 Denali Departure, SUMMITED!!!

Photo: The summit ridge, where the team was yesterday.

Lead guide, Mark Postle just phoned in and told us that yesterday the team went for and made it to the summit!!! They made it back down safely to high camp in the evening. Everyone is doing well. Mark said the wind was a moderate at high camp today so they will have hot drinks, start to pack up and watch the weather. They may go to 14,200' today or they will spend tonight at 17,200' and descend to 14,200' (or maybe further to basecamp) tomorrow, as always if the weather cooperates! He said everyone on the team is haapy to know that the blog is being updated so family and friends will know what is going on with them. They are all thinking of you as well!


Saturday, May 26, 2007

2 Expeditions back in Base camp.

Photo: base camp from above.

Kevin and David and Robert link and his crew are back in base camp. There have not been any planes flying in our out of base camp all day due to poor visibility. All of the planes that we use to fly in and out of the mountains are VFR only. Visual Flight Regulations, this means that they have a certain amount of vis in order to fly.

It looks like the weather is lifting around town here and it sounds as if it is doing the same at base camp. There is a chance then that both teams may make it out tonight. If not they will just pitch their tents and wait the weather out at base camp. We have plenty of food and fuel in there just in case.

The next updates about these guys, they will more than likely do themselves from Talkeetna on their own cell phones.


May 2 Denali Departure, Robert Link at Basecamp

Robert Link phoned in and the team is at Basecamp! They arrived early this morning and are organizing their equipment and loads for the flight out. The weather is not flyable to Basecamp today, so they are waiting for the weather to clear up so they can come back to showers, burgers and beer! We look forward to having them back, they worked hard up there!


May 15 Denali Departure, Christian March carried to 16,400'

Photo: This is 16,400' where the team has put in their cache

Christian just called in from 16,400', the has team carried some of their food, equipment and fuel to cache for their move to high camp in the next few days. The carry to the the top of the fixed lines is an exciting part of the climb. The terrain gets steeper and more techical. Most people really feel the altitude on this day and this carry really helps them acclimitize well when they make the move to high camp. Christian said the mountain had light clouds at the 15,000' foot level and that it was clear above!

Stay tuned for more info on Christian's team and from the May 8th Denali Departure Mark Postle's group, we expect to be hearing from Mark soon!


May 8 Departure, Mark Postle's Team at 17,200'

Photo: Taking in the view from Denali's West Buttress High Camp at 17,200'

We got a message from Mark last night, the team made it to High Camp at 17,200'! He said that the weather was good and the team worked hard getting to camp, which is expected! Once they arrived in camp they decided on a good place to camp, set up their tents, reinforced snow walls, drank hot drinks, ate dinner and enjoyed getting settled into their new camp. By 9 pm the team was all "dug in" for the night. If the weather is good they will try for the summit today, but so far we don't have a weather report, so I'm not sure if they are resting or going for it today. Mark siad he would call in later today so stay tuned!


Friday, May 25, 2007


Photo: Summit ridge, Brian Okonek Collection.

I just got a message from Kevin at High camp. He and David are back from the summit. He sounded good. Most likely they will camp at 17K (high camp) for the night and start down tomorrow sometime. Whoo Hoooo! Nice job!!


An upper mountain teams update from "Marchy"at 14K.

A birds eye view of 14 camp.

Christian March called in with a bit of an update. They did there back carry yesterday and are taking a rest day today. They were about to head out to the "edge of the world" for a view and some light exercise. Even on rest days it is good to get the heart pumping a bit. At altitude the idea is to keep the respiratory and heart rates somewhat elevated to keep the O2 levels up. The more you breath the more O2 you can get on board and with light exercise your heart rate will increase and deliver that oxygen where it needs to go, like to your brain and muscles.

Marchy said the weather is nice today and as long as it continues they will make a carry up onto the ridge and get established for when they are all rested up and well acclimatized to move up to high camp when they get a weather window to do so.

Mark Postle and crew are on there way to high camp right now. Christian said they have a great day to do so. Robert left mid morning this morning to make his way down to base camp. He will either get down tonight late or more likely sometime tomorrow morning.

Marchy thought that Kevin and David were probably attempting the summit today. He could see a little evidence of wind up high, but that's pretty normal to have little wind plumes first thing in the morning and have the wind die down as the day goes on, so we're wishing them the best of luck. There are probably quite a few parties attempting the summit today since there has not been to many opportunities in the last week or so.

We expect Mark to be rolling into high camp sometime around late afternoon. They will either take a rest day tomorrow or because they had so many days at 14, they may be up for an attempt tomorrow. The move from 14 to 17 is a hard one and is often just as hard as a summit day.

Christian was going to teach all the necessary classes this afternoon to get folks ready and refreshed for ascending the fixed lines and traveling safely on the ridge. All in all they will have a pretty mellow day today, but they have a lot of material to cover. It should be review for everyone but we like to make sure everyone is efficient with their systems before they get up any higher. They'll be going to bed early and getting up early to try tpo beat other crews out of camp so they don't have to wait in line to get on the fixed lines leading up to the ridge.

Christian wanted me to let everybody know he thought he was lucky that he had a girlfriend that still loved him even if he spends all his time guiding up on Denali. He will be heading right back up there for another trip when he's done. He wanted me to tell Courtney he loves her too. He just wants brownie points so she won't send him down the road for a guy that works in town and comes home to her every night. :-)

Climbing and guiding on Denali is blue collar manual labor climbing to say the least. Everyone one on every team up there is working hard and doing their best. I'm sure everyone up there sends their best to all their friends and family. If the guides let everyone call everybody they wanted when they wanted they would not have battery power when/if they need it.

All is well and everyone is moving or carrying somewhere on the mountain. Jared and Chris's team should be making a carry to somewhere at the top of ski hill today. And I'm sure Greg and Sam's Upper rib trip is at the base of ski hill by now and will be continuing on there way in some fashion tomorrow, whether thay are moving up tomorrow or just making a cache.

The mountains were wide open this morning. Check out the link on the side for the south side denali web cam.

Later, Rob

Thursday, May 24, 2007

May 15 departure at 14K, Christian March, and an upper mountain update.

May 15th departure Lead guide, Christian March

Christian just called in from 14K. He rolled in last night. They ended up hanging out at 11K for an extra day due to high winds. Those decisions to not move up are often hard for some people to understand. Even with waiting out the windiest of weather their crew still made a carry and cache to the corner (Windy Corner) in windy conditions. Despite the name windy corner it is not always windy up there. They made the move yesterday in windy conditions as well. Sometimes you just got to do it. Every one is strong and doing fine and they are very excited to be at 14K.

They were just getting ready to do a back carry when I spoke to him. This means they will be heading down to the corner to pick up food and fuel and whatever else they may have cached there when they did their carry from 11K. Christian said he wants to spend 5 nights at 14K before moving up to 17K. Depending on weather tomorrow they may do a carry up onto the ridge somewhere or take a rest day and carry the next day.

He said the weather right now is "super mellow", light breeze and he said he could see windy corner from camp. That is good news for Robo's crew who were coming into 14 camp about now. Christian's gang got the royal treatment from other AMS guides already at 14 last night. Kevin Mahoney had hot drinks waiting for everyone upon arrival and Mark Postle let them cook up and hang out in his kitchen tent.

Kevin and David decided to move up to 17 today. Being a smaller group and able to move a little faster and lighter they are able to get away with traveling in slightly marginal conditions. Kevin and David will most likely try to summit tomorrow if the WX allows.

Mark's crew is holding tight and hoping to get a little better weather to move up to high camp tomorrow. Their gang still has plenty of days left to make stuff happen and hopefully they will get the weather window they need.

That's all folks.


Robert Link

Climbers descending to 11K camp.

Robert called in this morning with an update from the ridge. It sounded pretty calm up there today. It had been Rockin and Rollin up there yesterday he said again.

Robert said the weather is better today, but they are pulling the plug and coming down today. They have been up on the mountain for a long time and gave it a good go. They waited out the weather longer than a lot of people would be willing to do. So far this season there have only been 33 people summit. That is quite low, that's an approximate success rate of 27%. The weather has not been too cooperative yet this season.

Robo said they would head down to 14 and make there way down to the lower glacier through the night and try to make it out sometime tomorrow, weather permitting of course.

That's a wrap.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An update from the Ridge

Photo from a far. Robert and his crew are camped at the next bench up from the lowest part of the ridge.

Robert said "It is honking up here". Referring to the winds. They are still doing fine he said. Robert, Solveigh and their folks are still motivated to head up to high camp tomorrow if the weather permits. If the weather does not look good for tomorrow their plan is to head down as soon as they get a break in the weather. Robert is one cool cookie.

I hope they have a deck of cards, Rob

West Buttress Expedition Departure May 22nd

Greetings from little Talkeetna Town! The expedition lead by the guides Jared Vilhauer and Chris Nance started yesterday fairly smoothly. Bob, Anja, Suzy, Honda, Tim, and Ray were all here at 8:00 am sharp to start the process of packing and preparing before the flight into the Alaska Range. We had some delays in regards to Bob's luggage but it arrived this morning so we may be able to get a few items into him. In the long run this really isn't that much to worry about.

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and having a good time even though their flight time was delayed a couple hours. They were still able to get into base camp last night and according to their itinerary they'll be practicing a few skills including crevasse rescue today. We'll send out updates whenever we hear anything from the field but for those of you interested feel free to call or emaiil the office.

Update from 14K, Kevin's team and Mark Postle's

Tent life.

Kevin Mahoney just called in with a weather and conditions update from 14K. Kevin reported light winds, but kind of stormy weather over all. It's not particularly bad weather I don't think, but it's not quite good enough to move up yet. Moving from 14 to 17 is a long hard day and the guides want to roll into 17 with decent weather. Folks are going to be really tired from the move up there so the guides want to make sure that the weather is good enough so that the tired people can set up camp. We call that having margins for error. We like large margins for error. That is why they might be sitting out the bad weather and waiting for good weather to move and private parties might be moving up. The guides have all learned it is better to wait it out than to move in marginal weather.

Kevin and David of the May 15th Upper West Rib expedition are both feeling great and are still psyched. They have made a couple of acclimatization hikes up to 16+ thousand feet on the upper rib. The winds have been predominantly out of the south east lately and they are reluctant to move up to the high camp on the Rib and have decided to switch gears a little and move their sites toward climbing the West Buttress. Kevin and David are planning on heading up to 17k (high camp) on the Buttress tomorrow, thursday, and weather permitting go for the summit the following day. They have spent 5 nights at 14 and are anxious to move up. Kevin said that they have decided that if they are unable to summit by Sunday they will start heading down.

Mark's crew is also still at 14k. They are hoping to move up tomorrow as well. According to their schedule this is will probably be their 7th night at 14. This means several things. one is that they will all me much more acclimatized when they do move up to highcamp. And when they do move up they will be able to move up a little lighter as they will have a little less food and fuel to haul up. They still have plenty of days left and are sitting in the perfect spot. As I have said before, the more days at 14 the merrier.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

An update from Robert Link on the "16" Ridge and Mark Postle's crew at 14K

An old photo of some windy looking clouds over Mt. Foraker by Brian Okonek.

I just talked with Robert from up at his camp on the ridge. He said it actually isn't too bad up there, but it is a little too windy to make the move along the ridge to high camp. I suspect that the moving along the ridge might not be a problem but that the breaking down of camp at 16 and setting up of camp at 17 might be the problem.

If the weather improves and the winds die down by tomorrow; Robert, Solveigh and the other 4 team members will move up to high camp and try to summit the following day. If the weather does not improve by tomorrow then they will head down and start their descent to base camp. All is well with them other than the fact that they are waiting out some weather. Pretty standard up there.

I did not talk top Mark today, but he was talking with Solveigh on the radio as I was talking to Robert on the cell phone. He is holding tight at 14 K waiting on better weather to make his move up to high camp. This is probably their 5th night up at 14. As far as the guides are concerned, the more days at 14 the better. 14K is the best place to get strong. People generally have not lost their appetites like they do at 17,so they are still able to eat a good diet and are getting more and more acclimatized. 16K, where Robert's gang is is also a good place to acclimatize. 17 camp, highcamp, is the best place to try to summit from but 14.2 and 16.2 are better camps to acclimatize at.

That's all for now. We have another West Buttress flying on the mountain tonight Led by Jared Vilhauer and Chris Nance and an Upper West Rib of Denali starting tomorrow led by Greg Collins and Sam Johnson.

Stay tuned 'til the next episode.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Current Conditions on Denali from Mark Postle at 14K

Robert said there was a "cap" setting in on top of the mountain. Here is a pic of a "cap" on the mountain.

These lenticular clouds mean that there are high winds aloft. They do not mean that there is bad weather coming in necessarily or anything like that. They just mean that you do not go up towards the summit when they are lingering.

Mark Postle and his crew are holding tight at 14K. He said that the Weather isn't too bad at 14K, but looked a little windy up on the ridge. They are going to hang and get a little more acclimatization at 14K. They are still doing great.

Two members of the May 8th team led by Mark have come down off of the mountain. They had a great trip and were in amazingly high spirits for having just come out from 14K to basecamp in a push. Steve and Michelle Tierney of Anchorage decided to come down a few days ago. Michelle was in a lot of pain from her boots. They wish the team well and are looking forward to rejoining them for a few beers in Anchorage when they get down.

That's all for now. Everyone is doing fine and I'm sure we will here from some of our other crews as soon as they get into celery phone range.


May 2nd Denali Departure, Mountain Link, 16,400

Okonek photo of a camp at 16,200'

Just talked to Robert Link a few minutes ago. He and Solveigh headed up from 14K yesterday in perfect weather with the 4 remaining team members. They put in a camp at 16,200 at the top of the fixed lines. Tomorrow is their official out date. That doesn't mean much though. All that really means for this crew is that they might be running a little light on food and fuel. Luckily other teams have left them plenty of food and fuel at the next camp up, 17,200'. All of the team is doing well, and still very motivated to keep going.

Robert said that hanging out at 14k this past week has been like being at the beach it was so warm. They are dug in at 16.2 camp now, but are planning on sitting tight until the winds die down a bit. From where they are now on the ridge they are close enough to potentially be able to make a run for the summit the following day after reaching high camp.

This is all old hat for Robert. He has spent as much time on this mountain as anybody up there these days. The winds weren't too strong where they were but were a little stronger higher up. This is one advantage of all the updates in communications over the years, is the ability to find out current conditions almost anywhere on the mountain with the click of a button.

So that's the word from Robert. He is extending the length of his trip as it stands right now to give those that want to continue and don't have to be back for anything the chance. If anyone needs to get down for prior commitments he will be able to make arrangements from up there to accommodate them.

That's all for now.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

May 15 Departure Upper West Rib, Kevin Mahoney, 14,200'

Photo: View of Denali's Upper West Rib route

Kevin and David are enjoying a rest day at the 14,200' camp along with the May 8 West Buttress Expedition and many other climbers and National Park rangers. All is well. Kevin and David are planning on making a carry of their equipment, food and fuel up to the Rib tomorrow. The weather is fantastic up there today.


May 2 Denali Departure, Robert Link, 17,200'

Photo: AMS climber on the looking out at the view of the 16K ridge and beyond from high camp at 17,200 feet

We just heard from another AMS team that the May 2nd team has moved today to the 17,200 - high camp, we will wait to hear more from them directly, but today is a beautiful day on the mountain so they have plenty of time to get there and set up their camp. We wish them all the best!


May 8 Denali Departure, Mark Postle, 14,200'

Photo: Climber's on the 16K ridge heading to high camp

Lead guide, Mark Postle just called in from the 14,200' camp where the team is taking a well deserved rest day. It is very beautiful day up there today, everyone is enjoying the warm temperatures, sunshine and commroderie. Yesterday they carried some of their equipment, food and fuel to the top of the fixed lines at 16,200'. It was a bit windy and there were many other people on the fixed lines, this slowed their pace a bit, so they decided to put their cache of gear at the top of the lines rather than further up the ridge. He said everyone did well on the carry and is in good spirits. They are looking forwrd to their move up to high camp at 17,200' tomorrow.

The move to 17,200 is one of the most beautiful days of travel on the mountain, once they reach the top of the fixed lines they will climb along the ridge, moving around big boulders and looking down at the mountain world below. They will be moving slowly, coordinating their steps with their breathing and when they arrive a 17,200' they will be happy to be there. They will put up their tents and the guides will soon have hot drinks, soup and a hot dinner ready to eat! The team will settle in and hope for a good nights rest!


May 15 Denali Departure, Christian March, 11K

Photo: building camp at 11K, with the Kahiltna Dome in the background.

We got an update that Christian's team has moved up to camp at 11,200'. They are right on schedule.

I picked Steve up at the at the talkeetna airstrip, where all of the air services land and take off from to take climbers to and from the mountains. Steve is doing well despite his knee problems. He and the team had to make a very difficult and hard, but wise decision to send Steve out. Steve felt that even if he could continue on and endure the pain that he would potentially be a liability to the team.

Steve was able to "get a ride" with another guided group from the bottom of Ski Hill to Base Camp. By doing it this way Mike and Ben were able to stay with the rest of the team and continue up the mountain to 11k camp and Christian and the gang never missed a beat.

So they are doing there thing up there at 11.

That's all folks.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

May 12th Denali Departure, Christian March

Photo:Heading out from 7,800 ' camp at the bottom of Ski Hill.

Christian March, the lead guide called in yesterday from the top of "Ski Hill". His crew is doing well. You cannot get cell service from everywhere on the "hill" and guides are trying to conserve batteries for an emergency, so we only get calls every few days if we're lucky.

One of the team member's knees is bothering him. As far as we know, Steve Carter made the wise and difficult decision to come down because of his knee. Steve did not tweak or injure his knee but must be battling some chronic knee pain.
There is so much up and down climbing on Denali annd carrying heavy packs and awkward sleds etc. that it is nearly impossible to function on Denali with any type of injury. Christian said Steve is still very positive but feels he can not carry on with his knee the way it is.

If Steve does in fact come out, more than likely he will come out, from the bottom of ski hill, 7,800 ' camp, with assistant guides
Mike Janes and Ben Criswell as a rope team of 3. Then, as soon as Steve is on a plane from Kahiltna Base Camp to Talkeetna, we will pick him up from the airstrip and Mike and Ben will race back to the rest of the team at the bottom of ski hill (7,800 ' camp) and rejoin them to head up to the next camp.

Christian is waiting for the return of his assistants before heading up to his next camp. He is staying put for a couple of reasons. First reason, it is safer to travel with the backup of other experienced glacier travelers/climbers such has Mike and Ben, and second it is against National Park Service' protocols to travel in a 1:5 ratio rope team.

These types of scenarios are quite common on Denali, where guides are moving up and down the mountain to take care of different logistics while always making certain that other team members are taken care of.

We will update everyone as soon as we know more.