Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mark Postle's Denali training program

Mark Postle performing his weekly training regimen. When he is on Denali he just punches a hole is a crevasse bridge, preferably a bottomless crack, and puts his mid pole over top, gets lowered in by his teammates and does his pull-ups in a crevasse.

Mark group is carrying up onto the 16 Ridge today. Once again we got a report of the mountain being super cold this year. It is cloudy down low, but really nice up high. They are planning on resting tomorrow and moving up the high camp the following day.

Melis should be coming down from high camp this afternoon. Mark will be keeping an eye out for her and will most likely have hot drinks waiting for her when she rolls into camp.


Friday, May 30, 2008


Melis summitted. She called in from the top of Denali Pass at around 10:00 PM on the way back down. Denali Pass is about an hour to an hour and a half from camp. It was a cold and windy day she said. 17K is still in the sun and it has calmed down quite a bit and it's not as cold now.

That's all the info I have right now. I'll possibly talk to her before she heads down off the mountain. You guys looking in on her party will be updated from all the team members soon enough.


Greg Collins, Windy Corner

Uuber guide, Greg Collins.

Greg called in from Windy corner this afternoon. "Zero wind." "Completely splitter weather." Absolutely perfect weather up high he reported.

Everyone in the group is doing really well. He told me to tell somebody's wife that they love them. I didn't write the name down though, oops. They probably all send their love to their wives though if they have one.

From left to right, Kirby, Jon, Nate and Moises.

They flew into base camp this afternoon. Jon and Moises are super cool. They met last year on an AMS 12 day Mountaineering course and have kept in touch and are doing Denali together this trip. They both have great attitudes and are hoping to learn as much as they can from the guides. On most all of our guided expeditions the guides do all of the cooking and snow melting. They have already expressed the desire to do some of the cooking. It'll be a guided expedition in many ways but I think it'll be more like four buddies out climbing Denali. Or at least that's my guess, we'll see what really happens



Got a call from Cathrine (w/Postle) at 14K, she was calling for other stuff, but reported "absolutely beautiful weather, hardly any wind, 80-100 people going up..." group doing well, resting, eating, etc. she sounded really happy.


Melis's team is going for it today!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Post Holio

The man the myth the legend, Mark Postle.

Mark Postle called in this evening. He is at 14K. They rolled in there yesterday. They did their back carry down to 13.5 today. He said it has been very cold recently, even in the tents. It is usually about 15 degrees warmer in the tents than it is out side. When the sun is shinning on the tents it can be WAY warmer than out side.

All of the climbers on the trip are doing well. They are all very similar in ability and fitness which is nice for over all cohesion in the team.

Climbers looking down from high camp, Brian Okonek Photo.

This is where everyone likes to hang out in the evening and listen to the weather reports that are wrong most of the time. It is also a good place to hang out if you are trying to raise another party on the radio. Mark said he was going t try to reach Melis tonight to check in. I'd bet anything he is trying to arrange for the ever illusive and famous, but rarely performed 14K-17K tent swap. This works out once a season if you're lucky. It means that a group from 14 gets to move up to 17 and not carry all of their tents. It only works when a group from 17 is heading down to 14 on the same day a group is moving up. This does two things. It lightens the loads significantly and allows for the group moving up to move into an already built camp. It's sweet when it comes together.


High camp.

Melis sad it is still windy up there, but not as windy as it is at Denali pass. They are "sitting pretty with big walls, having fun and eating lots of big meals". She said "they would see us in town in the beginning part of next week for some ping pong and a beer after having summitted hopefully".

She talked to Greg Collins last night on the Upper Rib expedition. They are at 11K. Everyone is strong and enjoying the good weather.

That's all I have for right now.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

quick update

It was windy up high today so Melis's crew took another rest day. She said that folks were pretty well rested up now. It looks pretty good in there right now. They are patiently waiting with lots of food and fuel.

Postle is moving up to 14K today. That's all I know. I haven't heard from them, but I did get a quick text message saying they were moving today.

Bruce Andrews, one of the best guides ever, in front Mt. Francis. Brucie was killed in a plane crash on May 28th, 2003. He is a legend around here. He had climbed and guided all over the world. He left behind a great friend and wife, Anne-Marrie, a cool son named Tucker who is a sick skateboarder and snowboarder. Brucie also has a fun little girl named Meghan. We all miss Brucie and I know he wishes he was up in the mountains right now climbing and having his wife and kids read all about how much fun he'd be having up there right now.

Cheers Bruce.

On a separate note, the SFS crew climbed two separate routes on Francis. I have not seen their photos yet. I heard they have lots. They had a super good time and wished they were still in the mountains. Seth and one person came up the SW ridge on the left hand syline and Leighan and 2 climbers came up the East Ridge.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 27th

Brian Okonek photo, depicting what Melis's crew was most likely doing last night.

Melis moved up the high camp yesterday. They made it up there at about 7:30 PM. It sounded like they had quite a bit of building and camp chores to do before they could settle in for the night. Usually, when a group rolls in to a new camp one of the guides will almost immediately start melting snow to fill water bottles and get a hot drink into everyone to start the rehydration process. One they turn the stoves on they often will remain on for 4-6 hours until all water bottles are full, multiple hot drinks have been consumed, soup and dinner has been served and the pots are full in preparation for the following morning's cooking and melting routine.

They didn't get to bed until after midnight last night. Melis said folks were a bit tired today. That is expected as the move to high camp is considered one of the hardest days of the trip. It was -20 F. this morning up there. Above them on the upper mountain it is windy. It didn't sound like a great summit day today. She said they are installed there for the next 5 days and are just waiting for a good summit day. It is customary to take a rest day after the move to 17K.

"Sorry I missed your Birthday Jaco". and Hugs and kisses to Kelly and Logan.

Mark Postle and Pat Ormond's team suited up to fly at the beginning of their trip.

Tork ran into Mark's team yesterday when they were heading down. Mark's team had gotten a bunch of wind and snow at 11K during the last storm. They were back carrying yesterday to retrieve their cache near Kahiltna Pass. Today looks like a pretty good day in the range so I am guessing that they are making the carry to 13.5K, which is up around Windy Corner. I suspect that once MArk and PAt arrive in 14K camp I will hear from them directly. Until then it is by word of mouth. No news is good news.

Greg Collin's (Gee Double) and Nick's upper rib expedition.

Greg and crew launched yesterday afternoon as planned into the South East Fork of the Kahiltna (base camp) to start their climb. The upper rib expedition follows the West Buttress all the way up to 14K and then follow a different route on the upper mountain. All of Greg's teammates received a day of crevasse rescue training and glacier travel practice the day before they flew into the range so they were ready to hit the trail soon after flying in to base camp. They are most likely at the base of Ski Hill today. They may be carrying to 11K today.

Tom's team unpacking and drying their kit.

Tork's crew got in yesterday and had their Asado last night down at the river with views of the Alaska range in the background. Tom cooked up a bunch of beef just like an Argentinian.

And last but not least Brian McCullough and Dan Corn's May 27th West buttress trip is getting briefed by NPS and scheduled to fly into the range to base camp this afternoon.

Remember, that no news is good news and I'll try to update the blog whenever possible. I don't like to speculate too much, so I generally wait until I hear reports form the guides before i add info to the blog.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday, May 25th

14K camp from the bottom of the fixed lines.

Melis said he wind has slowed way down today. One of the NPS rangers said the winds were blowing about 10 mph this morning. The 16 ridge looked fairly windy still, so they took a walk up to the base of the fixed lines to get some exercise and acclimatization. Many of the guided groups that had been up there at 14K waiting to head up to high camp headed back down the mountain this morning as soon as the weather broke. These guys are hoping to move up to high camp in the next day or so, as soon as it's good enough weather to do so.

Team Tork left 14K this morning around 9:30 AM for base camp. Tom put an order in with me while I was in Anchorage yesterday for 10+ pounds of beef and some nice bottles of Argentinian wine for their end of expedition "asado". Planes have been getting in and out of the range today. They will most likely be out tomorrow if it's flyable.

Seth, Leighan and the Summit for Someone guys made it into the range this early afternoon. They were delayed by one day in Talkeetna due to un-flyable weather. They went in to the South East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. This is also the starting point for Denali, Hunter and Mt. Foraker. These types of trips never really know where they are going until they are just about ready to take off. They had maps for 3 or 4 different course locations. Sometimes they do not know where they are going until they are up in the air and the pilot says where he or she is able to land. Something as simple a thing as a fog bank in a valley or landing strip can make an area un-landable.

This is a photo of the South Face of Mt. Francis. One possible route, conditions dependent, is the left hand sky line, the SW Ridge. Another possible line of ascent is the right hand sky line, East Ridge. The SW ridge is more difficult and the east ridge is a fair bit easier. There are two guides out with the 3 SFS climbers so they can accommodate the different experience levels in this group.

During the day in town of bad weather, the SFS climbers, along with the guides took care of some necessary curriculum to travel safely on the glacier. They worked into the evening last night in the AMS climbing gym until Talkeetna Air Taxi called it for the night.

Tork made it to base camp tonight and should be flying out in the morning on the 26th.


Friday, May 23, 2008


This is a photo of Mt. Foraker with a series of Lenticular clouds stacked up. This means extremely high winds. You do not want to be anywhere exposed in a situation like this. I think Denali looks something like this right now. Brian Okonek photo.

Tom called just a little bit ago. He and his crew are safe at 14K camp. They launched yesterday for the summit. He said he was hoping to be able to sneak it in before the weather system moved in. They made it to the top of Denali pass and it was cold, getting windier, and starting to snow. Tom made a good decision and turned around. They returned to 17K yesterday and packed up there and and moved to 14K. Tork said it is blowing over 90 mph right now up on the 16 ridge and at high camp. It is too windy even to go down around windy corner right now. They are going to hold tight there for a bit until the winds abate.

He said it is windy but livable right now at 14K camp. 14 is a much better place to be when it get nuclear up there. It is hard living as it is at 17K with out extreme winds. It sounds like a freight train up higher right now. We are glad Tork is up there making good calls and everyone is doing fine.

I haven't heard from the other groups on the mountain today, but I'm sure all is well. They are probably doing some wall building and shoveling in and around camp as we speak.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Mountain of updates.

Here a group heads to the summit. Led by AMS guide Christian MArch.

Torkelson is heading for the summit today. The weather looks just like it did yesterday. They are in a bit of cloud up there, but the report for 14K a few minutes ago was that it didn't seem windy. Everyone is planning on higher winds starting tonight. Tom left camp with everyone this morning. He said he MIGHT call when they get back to camp, but if it's late he wouldn't call till the next day.

Kremer is at 14K and heading down in the next few hours. They are hanging out drying all there stuff and hydrating for the long trip out. They are going to cook up dinner at 11K and head out late night from there. They'll most likely do one final brew up at the base of Ski Hill and roll into base camp in the early morning hours. Wx permitting, we'll see them in Talkeetna tomorrow.

Here's Melis pulling down in Croatia.

Melis got her cell phone last night and she went to town with updates. I had to have one of the interns sit in front of the phone and keep hitting replay to get all the messages written down so I could post them. She said that's what we get for only giving her a cell phone battery and making her wait to get the phone body. Here is goes:

From Evan:, Tell Christine "I love her and miss her."

From John and Austin:,
1. "I didn't see anything about heat stroke in the hazards."
2. "ATT cell coverage sucks" [I could have told him that.]
3. Austin says something like: "milk was bad, it's so hot."
4 "14K was great, dogs and cats can live together, Jet black hair"
5. "Hugs and Kisses as appropriate."

From Bob Sherman:
, to Carol, Scott and Joe: "Great team, Great weather, hard work, great views, Happy 18th birthday Joe, love dad"

Johnny gives his love to Kelly and Logan, he is having an awesome time.

Melis said they are on their second night at 14K. They are getting installed and are in the process of bomb-proofing camp in anticipation of extreme high winds that are supposedly starting around midnight tonight. We'll see about that.

John Evans and Hugh Gaasch called in from the Pika and said they are doing awesome and having a great course. They are moving camp down glacier to do some rock climbing. Julia is also having a good course. She moved down glacier about 24 hours ahead of Hugh and Johns crew.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Climber on the summit of Denali. Photo Brian Okonek.

Kirsten and Olivier summitted yesterday. She said it was fun and not too cold. It looked like they had a little bit of clouds and I bet that kept things warmer.
She called this morning from High Camp. She was in her tent which she said was snowing on her. When it gets really cold out the tents don't allow the moisture from breathing pass through the walls of the tent. So all of the moisture collects on the inside of the tent in the form of ice crystals and then when you move in the morning it snows on you. Or when the sun hits the tent and warms it up, it rains on you.

Tork is at High Camp and doing good kremer said. I have not talked to him yet. The weather looks good in there right now. The last time I talked to Tom his plan was to rest today and go for it tomorrow if the weather is good.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nate, Matt and Dave

Here's a photo of Matt on the West Face Couloir on Mt. Huntington. Nate Opp Photo.

Nate, Matt and Dave just got out this evening. They had an awesome trip. They climbed a ton of ice, especially considering the intermittent weather they had.

That's all for now. They had some sweet photos so I figured I'd put at least one up here.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Mountain Updates

This is a picture of the South side of the Moose's Tooth. Ham and Eggs is the route that tops out at the lowest point on the ridge. Shakin' not stirred is just out of view on the left side of the photo. Brian Okonek Photo.

Nate, Matt and Dave "bumped" over to the "Route Canal" today to try to climb Ham and Eggs or Shakin' not stirred on the south side of the Moose's Tooth. They climbed to the junction of the Harvard and the West Face Couloir twice on Huntington. The second time I bet they got turned around by a bunch of snow on the upper snow slopes. They had a few days left and decided they would go try another mountain. The weather is looking super good as far as I can tell in there. The route is South facing and in the sun right now. I bet they start up it this evening when it gets a little cooler.

This photo is looking back towards Windy Corner. Melis called in about 20 minutes further up the trail towards 14K camp. Photo Christian March.

Melis radioed up to 14K this afternoon from 13.5K. I got a call down from 14K to relay a message. They are all doing good. She is planning on moving up to 14K tomorrow. They have installed their cache around the corner, which I'm sure they are all excited about. This carry day will have been the hardest day for them yet on the trip, not to be topped in difficulty until tomorrow when they move to 14K.

Brian Okonek photo of 17K camp. (high camp).

Tork is planning on moving his entire crew up to high camp and possibly going for the summit on Wednesday if the weather is good. I didn't hear from Tom personally so all I know is that they will leave 14K pretty early. It'll be pretty cold, in some ways this move is one of the coldest starts of the trip, 'cause they get such an early start so they can roll into 17K in good time and have plenty of warm weather up there. They'll most likely roll out of 14K with overboots and their expedition mitts on. Most groups don't go for the summit until 10:00 AM or even later to allow for sunshine to properly warm everything and everybody up before they start out into the shade of Denali Pass.

There has been some wind up high lately. Kremer's team is hoping to go for the summit tomorrow.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday update.

Kirsten called in from High Camp. She got there at about 8:30 PM last night. Today was a little windy up high so they thought they would benefit from a rest day. The weather appears to be holding and they are planning on going for the summit tomorrow. I didn't get to talk to her, but the message was relayed to me that they are doing great.

Olivier is still super strong Kremer said. He can do whatever it takes. They wanted to do some boot drying today as well so all their boot liners were dry for the summit day. Summit day starts out in the shade for the first 2+ hours. It can be very difficult to keep warm and you definitely want dry boots.

Greg Collins called in from the top of Crosson this afternoon. They have all decided to come down. With all the new snow and wind they still do not have favorable conditions. I'm sure it has been tough for everyone waiting out all that marginal weather, not being able to move further because of the type of terrain they need to cover. Foraker is a very difficult mountain to climb and doesn't see too many summits because of it. They were planning on descending Mt. Crosson in the middle of the night to take advantage of better snow conditions.

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16th

Tom Egan resting at camp on Denali.

Tom, Dan, Brian and Merle made it into basecamp and assuming the temperatures aren't too warm they may be able to start traveling toward the base of ski hill this afternoon. According to their proposed itinerary, they would have spent 2 night in base camp doing a variety of classes. So they weren't planning on departing from base camp until this morning anyhow. So they are pretty much on schedule.

Greg Collins when he is not skiing or guiding in Alaska.

Greg Collins called and said that they were sitting in some decent weather this morning doing camp chores but that it was not as good everywhere around them. He was anticipating being able to get out of camp sometime today to climb up onto peak 12,472 to start checking out the route conditions to come. Because of the type of terrain on the horizontal ridge they need to have relatively good weather and visibility to head out there. The Sultana Ridge is more technical and less traveled than the West Buttress on Denali. So, while Tork's group was able to head up and make it up to 14K yesterday in poor visibility, Greg and the Foraker crew need better conditions. This is their 6th night in the thick heavy rimeey weather. If any group can do this it's this group.

Rumor has it that Kremer, Greg and Olivier are on their way up to high camp.

Kirsten Kremer at her other job. Long time Valdez Heli Ski Guide.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tork's at 14K

Tom called in from 14K. They made it up to 14 in 8 hours. He said everyone is doing very well and is incredibly strong. They were the only group to move up today. Tom said it was a tough day, but everyone did good. They were eating hot soup and dinner when I talked to him. Kirsten, Olivier and Greg Runyan were waiting for them when they rolled in, I could here Kremer in the background. She had water ready to drink and hot water for tea and cocoa. They'll call when they have more of an update.

Tom Egan, Dan Corn, Brian Skean and Merle are still waiting to fly into basecamp. They have been cranking out classes here in town getting ready to head in. Today they were doing crevasse rescue and glacier travel training so they will be ready to hit the ground running, so to speak when they do get in.

That's all for now.


Thursday, May 15th

Here's a picture of Greg "G Double" Collins. Greg is one of the most talented and accomplished climbers and guides in the U.S.

Collins called in again from the summit of Crosson. They are still getting stormed on. He said as soon as they get out of the tent they are getting rimed up. That happens when there is enough moisture in the snow that as soon as the wind blows the precip. into anything, it sticks to it. They are calling for a weak high pressure to move in over the mountains tonight. Greg is planning on heading out across the horizontal ridge tomorrow if at all possible. They are all rested up and as acclimatized as they can be.

Craig wanted me to wish his son Paul, who is in Bagdad, a happy birthday. Paul's Birthday is tomorrow the 16th.

Greg talked to Tork at length last night. They made a carry yesterday to around the corner. Tom's plan as of last night was to move up to 14K today. Kirsten, who is at 14K, said that the route to 14 is fairly well wanded, so they may have been able to make a move. I'm not sure what the winds and temps were today though up there. The guides generally want a pretty good day to make this move, since it is a very difficult and long day for almost everybody. We don't like to roll into a new camp with expedition members super tired AND have to build a camp from scratch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kremer, Tork, Greg Collins, Tim Brown updates

Kirsten Kremer at 14K with Mt. Foraker poking out in the background.

Kirsten called in and she said they are doing really well. Olivier wanted to say to Megumi (sorry if I spelled your name wrong) that all is good and he is having fun and he is very patient up there.
They have installed a cache up on the 16 ridge above the top of the fixed lines. They burried it near Washburn's Thumb. They are ready to move up to high camp as soon as they get a good weather window.

Tork is still at 11K so I have not heard from him directly, buty Greg talked to him last night of the FRS radio. He is planning on carrying today and, wx depending, moving to 14 K tomorrow.

Tim Brown called in this morning. They made it almost to the summit on Mt Danbeard. They ran into some funky snow conditions up there and ended up coming down from high on the Mountain. It's always better to be safe than sorry. Tim and Daniel were going to try a couple other routes in the area before they head out.

Greg Collins and the Foraker crew are still at the summit of Mt. Crosson. They are getting rested up. They will be nice and strong for when they get a good weather window. They are patiently waiting. The mountains are clear today, but it looks pretty windy up there. Greg said if they can get a 3 day window they could send it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

3 updates.

Seth (pictured here) called in from the Eldridge on the 6 day Mountaineering Course. They were in a some not so good weather. It wasn't quite a white out. It was good enough to get out climbing/cruising around though. They are due out tomorrow.

Dave, Matt and Nate dog

Nate Opp called in from The Tokasitna Glacier. They have received 8+ inches over the last few days. They climbed to the top of the couloir and came back down. Sounded like some weather was moving in on them and they decided to rappel back down. Their high point so far is the junction of the West Face Couloir and the Harvard Ridge.

Nate said they are going to sit tight and try it again. They are hoping that it will stop snowing and they can head back up. They haven't been in too long. I'm guessing that they got off the plane set up their tents and started heading up. No messing around. That's how you have to do it sometimes in the mountains. You move and climb when you can and sleep when you're done.

Where you can see the person in the middle of the photo is about where they made it too I presume. This photo should be credited, but I can't remember who took it. Who ever took it summitted last season.

And last but not least, Melis, Elliot and Joey flew in for Kahiltna Base Camp. They all looked good. They were excited to get underway. Some of the climbers were veterans of attempting Denali, others were first timers. This trip had several local Alaskans. Melis is the far left person in the photo. Elliot, another of the guides is on the left side of the sign and Joey the third guide is on the right side of the sign. Yesterday was Melis's Birthday. later


Monday, May 12, 2008

Update from Tork.

Here is a picture of Tom "Tork" Torkelson.

Anya, you'll be happy to know that I told Tom to tell Christian you loved him and all that. I heard him yell, "Hey Christian, your girlfriend loves you!"

Tork called from Kahiltna pass. The said the weather was a little "mealy" today and they had to go wand to wand down to their cache. Mealy means that it is not splitter :-). It sounds like they were experiencing a little bit of what we call, life inside of a pingpong ball (white out). When traveling during a whiteout you often can not tell if your are walking uphill or down hill and you can't see more than 5 feet in front of you. This is why Tom had left so many wands between their camp at 11K and the cache at Kahiltna Pass. When ever you separate yourself from supplies that you may need at another camp you have to assure that you'll be able to get to it in mealy conditions. With wands (the little 3 ' tomatoe stakes) placed every so often you can follow them in a whiteout. Then, when you're returning back to your camp you can pull the wands you had left behind so you'll have them for the next time you make a cache and need to leave a "bread crumb trail".

I asked Tork how everyone was doing and he said he was impressed with the crew. Everyone is doing great, and I'm not just saying that. Physically they're all doing good and mentally as well. Depending on the weather tomorrow they may either take a rest day or make a front carry to the Windy Corner vicinity. I bet they had a big all you can eat pancake breakfast this morning and then took a stroll down to pick up the cache.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I took this photo of Foraker the day before yesterday. Probably the day these guys were moving up to Summit camp or moving up to camp 2. This is the view that we have from town everytime we walk over the tracks.

Greg, Matt, Craig, Mark and Ken made it back down to their last camp today and retrieved supplies. They have everything they need now at the Crosson summit camp. He said they will most likely rest tomorrow and the next day at this camp.

Every one did super good today in very challenging conditions. Greg said they are very well stocked and he plans on staying there for a long time if need be. "G Double" emphasized how well everyone did on this windy and cold back carry day. This is the highest elevation camp they will have on this expedition. Greg and Matt wanted to take advantage of the elevation of Crosson for acclimatization reasons.

Bob, if you're checking in on our mutual friend Craig, I wish you could have been up their with them. Craig mentioned something about wanting to go and try the Polish direct on Aconcagua next season. Maybe I'll see you for that trip.

And Seth called in from the Eldridge Glacier today. He said time was flying by on the 6 day Mountaineering Course. They had already bagged a peak and everything. All is good out there. I didn't ask, but I am almost positive that they have the place all to themselves.


Kremer Update from 14K camp

14 K camp is the nice flat basin just right of the center of this photo.

Kirsten called in last night. They rolled in to camp yesterday afternoon. They made it up to camp from 11K in about 7 hours. That is a very respectable time. She said they took tons of breaks and took their time. They are doing very well. They have all of their kit up at 14K. Today is going to be a total rest day and they will start covering skills tomorrow.

When they made their carry, the day before yesterday, they were able to go all the way to 14K to cache it. Smaller groups are able to make better time often than larger groups. The cache day from 11K up past Windy Corner is the hardest day for most people that they will have encountered so far on their Denali trip. So, for Kirsten, Greg and Olivier to have gotten all the way to 14K to cache tells me that Olivier is doing very well.

14K is a great place to be. They are into the second phase of their expedition. The first phase being the lower mountain up to 14K. The second phase is from 14K to 17K, and the third is from 17K all the way back to Talkeetna. The trip does not end at the Summit. The trip is only half over at that point, it sure is a lot easier going down though.

I suspect that Tork is heading to 11K today. From talking to Greg last night it sounded like he was installed near Kahiltna pass. We generally single carry from 9,800' camp to 11K.

The main purpose of our cell phones is for emergency purposes. I love hearing from the guides but I also tell them to save some juice for an emergency.

When I talked to Kirsten last night I wrote down Olivier's girlfriend's name on a piece of scratch
paper but I left it over at the AMS schoolroom on the other side of town. Olivier wanted us to say that he really missed her and he is doing great and having a fun time and all that stuff.



Saturday, May 10, 2008


Brian Okonek photo of some climbers building some nice snow walls. This is what the Foraker guys are doing right now.

Greg called in from the Summit of Crosson tonight. They are all doing good. They are a bit tired from lots of hard days everyday. He said he was off to go build some walls around the camp. At all exposed camps in the big mountains we build giant thick snow wall to protect the tents from the winds. They are hoping to back carry the rest of their belongings up to their camp on the cumbre, aka the acme, aka the zenith, aka the pinnacle of Mt. Crosson.

Greg thought Tork was camped at 9,800' camp and Kremer was probably at 14K. Like I said earlier, some guides call in frequently and others don't.

Nate Opp got in to the Tokasitna Glacier with Matt Steenberg and Dave Kotch. They are looking to climb a route on Mt. Huntington. Most likely the West Face Couloir. Nate climbed the famous and seldom repeated French Ridge in an incredible 26 hour push a few years ago. Those guys were really excited. They have 12 days.

This picture is the backside of Mt. Huntington. Taken from Pk. 11,300. The French Ridge is the right hand skyline.

That's it for now.


12 day advanced Mountaineering Course

This is a past student on top of a climb in Little Switzerland.

Jed Workman called in with an update. The weather is "splitter" in the range today. Splitter is a good thing. Desert climbers use this term frequently. It references the the perfection of the cracks that form in the windgate sandstone in the colorado plateau. A splitter crack is one that is close to being parallel from start to finish. Splitters are good, so good weather is "splitter".

They have been cranking out skills classes out there on the Pika glacier, also known as Little Switzerland. They have climbed a peak called Big Arrapalise and a nice couloir on the East face of the throne. They have been doing lots of crevasse rescue and self arrest practice to name a couple of the classes.

They are about to move their camp down glacier and do some ice climbing in and around the icefall at the base of Italy's Boot. Jed also mentioned doing a circumnavigation route which may take them out onto the the Kahiltna Glacier for part of the route.

Here's a photo one of our instructors, Mike Wood, took of a crew practicing crevasse rescue.

Friday, May 9, 2008

May 9 Updates.

Tork called in from the top of Ski Hill while doing his carry. I didn't talk to him personally but he reported that all was good. They are right on schedule. The weather is looking perfect in the mountains today.

A climber following the "S Couloir" pitch on peak 11,300.

Tim and Daniel made it into the Range this afternoon. They are headed in to do some technical climbing on Mt. Danbeard and Peak 11,300 perhaps. They have 10 days of climbing ahead of them. They will not have any cell coverage from where they will be, so I do not plan on hearing too many updates from them.

This picture is looking up at Motorcycle Hill from 11K camp on what may be pretty similar weather to what Kirsten was experiencing yesterday.

Another guide friend of ours stopped by the office this afternoon. He just flew out from Denali this afternoon. He ran into Kirsten, Greg Runyan and Olivier early this morning while he was cruising through 11K camp. Yesterday they had tried to make a carry in fairly windy conditions. They ended up putting a cache in before Windy Corner. They may have tried to get their cache further up the mountain today. They are doing really well though, Zack said.

Putting in a cache short of "the Corner" could end up working in their favor actually. Many groups end up taking a rest day at 11K anyway. If they did not get very high on their first cache attempt, that will have served as somewhat of a rest day, but will be better for acclimatizing than just sitting idle in camp. I'm sure Kirsten and Greg are keeping Olivier pretty entertained hanging out in camp as they are two pretty engaging and interesting guides.

Our first 6 day Mountaineering Course of the season just flew into the mountains this afternoon as well. We generally do not here from our courses once they are out in the field 'cause they are usually too busy to go try to find cell reception anywhere. So I wouldn't expect any updates from them.



Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tork update

This photo is looking down glacier, South, from Tork's camp at the base of ski hill. (this is an old photo, however)

Greg Collins just called in again. He talked to Tork on the radio tonight. Tork and crew are doing good. They are camped at the bottom of Ski hill. They are going to do a carry tomorrow to the Kahiltna Pass area and return to camp. Then move up into the 10,000 foot basin below Kahiltna Pass somewhere to camp, weather permitting.

Tork does not get cell coverage from this camp.

We heard a rumor that Kirsten's crew may be at 11K. They do not get cell reception there either.

I'll keep you guys posted when I can.


Camp 2 Foraker

Camp 2 is about 2/3-3/4 of the way up the mountain (Crosson) in the foreground. Camp 3 will be at the summit of Mt. Crosson

Greg "G Double" Collins called in this evening from camp 2 on Crosson. 10,400 feet. He said they are all wicked strong and things couldn't be better. He also said they are loving this low pressure that they are having right now. It has been super calm. They are planning to back carry some supplies tomorrow from Camp 1 and then make the move to the top of Crosson.

Greg said it has been warm at the lower elevations so they have been traveling on a night schedule to utilize the colder night temps for climbing and sleeping during the warmer day time temperatures. Moving on a night schedule is quite common up here in AK. They are ahead of schedule at this point. That's it for now.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mt Foraker and May 6 Denali are in.

This is the Mt. Foraker crew. From Left to Right: Greg Collins, Matt Smith, Ken Seavey, Mark Stier, Craig Hanneman.

AMS guide Tom Torkelson diligently checks a team-member's equipment opening day to assure everything is just right.

"Denali 'Tork'" crew, posing just before their flight in to Kahiltna base camp.

There is one other private AMS Denali trip ahead of Tork's, led by Kirsten Kremer and Greg Runyan. They have one climber with them. His name is Olivier, he is super nice and looks to be very fit. Sorry, I didn't get any photos of them in town. They were delayed 1/2 of a day on the front end of their trip.

As soon as I get some updates I'll let you know. Just keep in mind that no news is good news.