Saturday, July 12, 2008

Denali '08

Well, our 2008 Denali Guiding Season is officially over. Nate and Joey flew out of the Range last night with the last AMS Denali Expedition. We've had an awesome season. Our guides and participants have been incredible.

We still have more than 20 Mountaineering Courses, Workshops, WFR recerts, Glacier Treks, Wilderness Hikes and Custom courses yet to come this season. One of our 6 day Mountaineering Courses just flew into the mountains yesterday evening.

Our mountaineering courses generally do not have enough time to report in from the field.

I'll try to post updates for the upcoming 2009 climbing season. The 2008 season was busier than 2007 and I'm sure 2009 will be even busier than 2008.


Nearing the top of Ski Hill

Base camp, looking at the North Buttress of Mt. Hunter.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday Evening Update

Nate & Joey called from 14 camp, they've decided to stay there tonight.  The weather below them is foggy and there are plenty of people already sitting at base camp waiting for flights.  No reason to rush just to be in line. He said they would be seeing us Friday, at the earliest.  They'll be our last West Buttress team down the hill for the season, so they'll be doing a sweep, making sure that we've cleaned up all of our camps and caches.  

It's been cloudy in Talkeetna for a few days, with rumors that it has been clear above 6000 feet or so.  There have been enough clouds at that crucial point to preventing flights from landing on the glaciers.  The air taxi tried to fly into base camp about a half-hour ago and the planes had to turn around due to clouds that had moved in.  So Mike Hamill & his team will be spending the night at base camp.  The Ruth Glacier was totally socked in, so Colby's crew will also be enjoying another round of hot cocoa and another night in a cozy sleeping bag.  

I'm off to fight mosquitoes.  ~ Julia

Nate and Hammy

Hammy is in base camp waiting for the wx to clear so the planes can pick 'em up. Nate and Joey are heading down from 17 to 14 about now. They were talking about heading down to base camp tonight. They will try to time it so that they arrive into B.C. at about 6:00 AM or so tomorrow (Thursday). We could be seeing Hammy soon (as soon as the cloud ceiling lifts) and Nate's crew as soon as tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Picture of Nate on yet another summit (Moose's Tooth).

Our last Denali expedition of the season just summitted (Nate and Joey's) with every member of the team. That's not unbelievable in itself, it's just impressive that every single Denali expedition of ours, except one, reached the summit. We've had an incredibly successful season, and we owe it all to our guides who make solid decisions time and time again.

They summitted at about 6:00 PM, more or less. It was a super good day. "The best day I could have hoped for"- Nate Opp. He sounded great and said that every one was doing well. Everyone sends out their love. To all of the U.K., Canada, and everywhere else I heard in the background.



High camp and the summit.

Some climbers heading toward the summit.

The IMG/AMS trip summitted last night. They had an 11 hour round trip day. That's a really good time for a summit day. Everyone on that team is really strong. Mike called at about 9:00 this morning and said that they are getting ready to head down now. They'll head to 14 this morning and rest up there. We might see that crew as early as tomorrow morning.

Here's a picture of what it sounded like 17 must have been like last night. It was socked in and the winds were ripping through there all night. The wind died down at about 6:00 AM this morning and it is now looking like a good summit day. Hammy said Nate and Joey's crew is gearing up to go for it this morning. There is just a little wind up above Denali Pass right now. These winds quite often continue to die down as the day progresses. Good Luck!

The summit marker from the summit of Denali. This season the thing is sticking out of the snow anywhere from 18 inches to 2 feet. This is the first season that I can remember that it has even been visible. Too bad the summit elevation is not on it.

I'll let you know.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Updates from Nate

Nate called in last night from H.C. He said his crew was doing good. They had to build their own walls when they moved into camp. Personally, 17K is the only camp I prefer to move into old walls. The lower camps on the mountain I try to get "new real estate". On Denali, it's all about being READY for the upper mountain. The lower mountain is the place to get all your systems completely dialed. I'm sure Nate was hoping to "move in" last night. It's no big deal really to have to build your own walls, it's quite normal actually, but it is hard work and 17 is the camp that most guides look for old walls.

High Camp is the camp that can really dish it out, so you kind of have to have big burley walls. I spent 8 days at 11K one year where 50% of the tents in camp got destroyed in a big storm. (We didn't lose a single tent.) Denali can dish it out anywhere on the mountain. Ideally, at high camp the walls surrounding camp are higher than the tops of the tents. Sometimes we build our walls 2 blocks thick AND dig a giant moat on the windward side of of the windward walls to collect drifted snow before it blows up and over your walls into and on your walls and tents. Then you can go out and empty your moat, which is often easier than navigating in and around the tents inside the tight confines of the "bombproof" camp.

Nate was planning on resting today and then starting to look for a window tomorrow.

Here are a few messages that Nate's gang wanted relayed. Hopefully I get it all right here.

misses and sends his love to Lindsay, Jeremy and Nick.

Lane wants to say Happy Birthday to his daughter Caitlin.

"Our youngest girl wants to say happy birthday to Mummy and daddy, Alex says that."

Sandra says happy birthday to her Mom.

Paula says happy birthday to her pomeranian (registered and has the papers to prove it)!

I'm sure Nate and Joey send their best to their "better halves". I know they, Purcie and Melis, send their love to their boys up on the mountain.

That's all.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

High Camp

Nate and Joey's trip as well as Hammy's have arrived in High camp! Hammy said that everyone on his expedition was climbing strong. If the wx is good tomorrow they will go for it. The wx right now is perfect. Several groups went for the summit today. I haven't talked to Nate yet, but I know that he was already in camp and Joey was only about 20 minutes out with his rope team. The 16 ridge leading to 17K is considered by many people to be the most spectacular part of the West Buttress. Perhaps Nate will call in later with an update, but for now all is good and I bet by the time anyone sees this post they will be moved into camp and drinking a hot cup of something.

Check out the video of the 16 ridge. You get a brief glimpse of the exposure. The summit ridge is also narrow in spots like the 16 ridge.

I'll keep you all posted when I hear more.



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It's official, Hacen la cumbre

As you can probably tell from the "Spot" page, if you've been looking, Pat's crew summitted! It's a little breezy but other than that good views and they are doing well. They'll be heading down with in the next half hour or so.

Here's that video footage that Colby took again from the summit. From the sounds of it, Pat's summit day was very similar to the one in Colby's video.

They're looking at about a 4 hour descent back to high camp. You can all probably follow the same link from the previous post to track them back to HC and down the mountain.

Later, rfg

Upward bound

Just checked the "Spot" website. 5 Minutes ago Pat's team was about 200 veritcal feet above Denali pass, heading toward the Japanese Weather Station and wx. permitting on to the summit. Check out the link for yourselves: Where's Waldo? When you get to the spot page>click Terrain> to see the map of where they are at. You can keep an eye on the elevation contours to gauge their progress. Unfortunately the satellites do not have good coverage of the area where they are now, so you have to use the terrain function. It looks like it's being updated every hour or so.

That's all for now.


Some photos from Melis's boys.

Melis just flew out from the glacier this morning. She said that it looked pretty good up high and that it didn't seem windy.
Melis and Forest's crew in their kitchen tent at 14.
John heading up the fixed lines
The boys building the igloo at 17K.
Chef Melis, serving up pancakes at high camp.

John on the tippy top.
Nearing the top of the fixed lines, heading down yesterday, in what looks to be perfect cramponing.
Frosty, after the descent back to high camp.Toasty, after the descent to 14 camp.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Updates from Hammy and some random photos from Pat's group.

Mike Hamill "Hammy"

Hammy called in from the "Corner" this afternoon. He said his crew is moving really well. They were putting the cache in before the corner, instead of heading all the way around the corner, thus adding another hour onto their day toady. They're probably back at 11K by now. It is a real nice day right now up there. They are planning on moving to 14 tomorrow. The move to 14 usually takes 7-9 hours or so. They will probably just walk right on by their cache at the corner tomorrow, unless they stop to grab a few surface items like saws, shovels, spades and things like that.
A group heading down toward 11K.

Nate and Joey headed up to 14 today. Haven't heard from Nate yet, but probably will soon, even though the guy really isn't much of a telephone talker. According to Mike they had a good move day. And if I know Melis, she's waiting up there for her Joey and she'll probably have water melted and hot drinks waiting for Nate and crew. The move to 14 from 11 is a tough move day. It's the toughest day they've had so far this trip.

This is what a typical denali traveler looks like.

Melis, Rob and John should be out tomorrow. That's all I have from her. That's okay though, Melis has been in the blog headlines for awhile now.

The inside of Pat and Tim's Kitchen tent at 14K.
Deep in thought. Looks like he's really toughin it, eh?
Who's socks stink?The throne at 14 camp.

that's it for now.