Monday, May 31, 2010

High Camp

AMS Guides Peter Anderson and Nick D'Alessio thier team are all doing well at high camp (17,200') . They are holding tight waiting for their perfect weather window. The weather hasn't been all that bad lately, but it hasn't been perfect either. They are not in any hurry right now so they are going to wait for a good weather pattern. Peter called in and sounded as though he was in the next room when he called, crystal clear, if I didn't know better I would not have guessed he was at 17K on Denali. It was blowing about 30 to 40 MPH earlier and it was about 20 below zero last night. Calm for most of the day, from noon onward. So I am sure they are getting in some good rest in their tents (even with the winds it can be pretty warm in the tents) and walking around in camp to get their blood moving.

That's pretty normal for this time of year. These guys are completely acclimated to the altitude and cold by now. Minus twenty Fahrenheit will feel just a little cold, with all of their gear on. Although, it was cold enough for Peter to at least note that it was their coldest night so far. It was lightly snowing off and on when I was talking to him.

AMS Guides Brent and Todd and the May 23rd Team are hoping to make a carry tomorrow to the top of the fixed lines. They did a back carry today to retrieve the rest of their kit at 13.5K. I got that update from Peter, so no new news directly from Brent or Todd. No new news is always good news, truly.

I know everyone out there tracking friends and family are keen to know everything that's going on up there. Keep in mind that it's pretty darn nice to just disconnect from us low landers for a short while. They are in their own little world up there. They call in occasionally, but they are in constant contact with guides and other climbers at various locations on the "hill".

The photo above is the view from 17,200' (high camp) looking at climbers climbing up the ridge, towards high camp. The climbers are at aprox. 16,800' in this picture.

Post by:
and a little bit from Caitlin

Gettin' Ready!

Guides Russell and Kirby help with gear checking.

Each member of the team will pack food for their lunches--that way we know they'll bring food they like.

Ice Screws....check

Guide Leighan gathers ice screws needed for some technical climbing on Mount Dan Beard

Guide Leighan talking gear with Kim

Leighan, Ben and Kim are headed out for a climb of Mount Dan Beard, located in the Ruth Amphitheater. Dan Beard is a 10,260-foot peak entirely encircled by the Ruth Glacier. It was named in 1910 for the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. Doggie, Rueben is staying behind.

The Smith Family and Guides are Jumping into their Expedition

Knolan, Joe, Greg, Dan, Roland, Justin and Anders practice their crevasse jumping skills before they head to the airport.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pat Ormond's Team

Weather depending, AMS Guide's Pat and Lisa and thier crew will be heading up to 14K today. They made a carry yesterday afternoon to 13.5K, around Windy Corner. It was super balmy (warm) yesterday. He said that his entire group was doing awesome!

First photo is a recent picture of 14,200 foot camp. I'm sure by now there are way more people in camp. In the back of the photo is "the edge of the world". Climbers usually go over there on a rest day. If the weather is clear they can see into the NorthEast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. You can see a trail over there in this photo.
Pat Ormond with crazy glacier hair below.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Busy Bee Hive

AMS Guides Nate Opp, Larry Holmgren, Brian Skean, with climbers Ken & Dan are all now back in Talkeetna, trying to avoid sunburn. It's 70 degrees F in the shade!

While they unload and sort dirty laundry, AMS Guides Kirby Senden and Russell Hunter are preparing for their May 31 West Buttress Expedition. They will have a team of 4 climbers. Lead AMS guide Greg Collins has a West Buttress team that launches on May 30, so the guides are deeply into packing mode today.

AMS Guides Brent Langlinais and Todd Tumolo, with climbers Chad, Ed, Jason, Tary and John called in just as I was writing. Today they carried to 13,500 feet, going back down to 11,000 feet to sleep. They report that "everything is going perfect and everyone is doing well". They plan to move to 14,200 feet tomorrow.

The weather is great today.

~Blogger Julia

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Back to the Green

Rodrigo, Jeff & Sissel made it back to Talkeetna and are now enjoying a sunny evening!

Back to the Green

Lots of people flying off The Mountain and arriving in Talkeetna. The trees are fully leafy now, a shock to people who have been looking at snow for 3 weeks. Todd Passey, Alex Stroud, Ken & Carlos are here munching on watermelon and thinking about a shower and a steak, or two. Two showers, and two steaks. They are all smiles!

We have people at Base Camp staged to fly back to Talkeetna, and hoping that the weather cooperates. A little afternoon thundershower is about to blow in from the east. Rodrigo, Sissel & Jeffrey are due to be in the next wave.

Mark Postle's group has been relaying messages via satellite phone. We heard today that they made a bid for the summit but decided to go back to high camp. We'll see what they decide to do next.

We'll keep posting news when we get it!
~Blogger Julia

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

News From 14-camp

Peter Anderson called from 14,200 feet, with a report of great weather "downright hot and still", with clouds gathering over the summit. The kind of clouds that convince people that the summit is not that important. These lenticular clouds are indicators of high wind. We'll let you know if we get any weather reports from higher on the Mountain. Chances are, the folks at High Camp are looking up, waiting for the clouds to dissipate.
He also said that he, Nick, and the gang are resting today and will "take a walk to the Edge of the World", a popular activity on rest day at 14 camp for a little exercise and a fantastic view. They arrived there a couple of days ago and did a back carry yesterday. Tomorrow they will likely take a load up the fixed lines to 16,200 feet, then come back to their camp at 14,200 feet for another day of rest. When the weather is right and everyone is strong, they will start the transition to High Camp at 17,200 feet, which is a process that takes a few days.
~Nav sends out "Happy Birthday!" to his wife Laura!

We also heard that Nate Opp & his team did make it to the summit last night. Peter was guessing that Mark Postle's team might be making an attempt today, depending on the wind.

More when we hear more!
~ Blogger Julia

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Good things come to those who wait.

Rodrigo called from the SUMMIT around 4:25PM. He said that Todd Passey was about 1 hour behind them and Nate Opp was a half hour behind Todd.

A bit breezy today, but other than that a super good day. It usually takes about half as long to make it back to High Camp from the summit as it did to make it from High Camp to the Summit. These teams will return to High Camp tonight and start heading toward Base Camp tomorrow. If the weather is perfect for the next few days they could be out as soon as thursday or Friday.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The Postle pull-up.

Postle's group made it to high camp tonight. They are planning on taking a rest day tomorrow.

Rodrigo went up to Denali Pass today, hoping the wind would die down by the time they got to the pass. After hanging out for a few days at high camp, I would have done the same thing. The winds do often mellow out in the afternoon, so if that happens, the teams who leave camp to "check it out" are the only groups that can benefit. Today, however, it was too windy. I'm sure it felt awesome to get out and stretch the legs a bit. They are planning on trying it again tomorrow.

Nate Opp's team and Todd Passey's teams are going to go for it as well tomorrow assuming the weather is decent.

That's all for now.

6:00 pm - Instructors, Josh and Matt called to say everybody is having, "the best time of their lives" on the 12-Day Mountaineering Course. They've had beautiful weather, that's for sure. If the weather holds, they fly out on Tuesday by 12:30 pm.

Getting Ready to Suit Up and Head to the Glacier

Guides Lisa and Pat with Hans, James, Jill, Doug, Paul, and Birger ready to leave the green behind and head to the blue and white.


Postle just called again a few minutes ago. It was windy all day yesterday, but it was looking better last night and has mellowed out this morning. They were about 30 minutes from launching for high camp.

This photo was taken just a few days ago from 14, looking up at the summit of Denali. Those plumes of wind and snow are blowing several hundred feet into the air. That means you do not go for it when it looks even remotely like this.

Mark talked to Nate Opp this morning. It sounds like it is still windy way up high on the mountain, so the teams at 17K are hanging another day and hoping to try for the summit tomorrow.
Brian Okonek photo of some windy camp building at 17K.

From Talkeetna, it sure looks like a nice day in the range.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Peter Anderson just called in from Windy Corner.
They made their cache today and are planning to move to 14K tomorrow, weather permitting. He said they had winds about 5-10 MPH. I think it might be a little windier up higher though.

Seth Hobby and the Summit For Someone crew flew out today from the Root Canal. They had a great time in there and are already planning on coming back to AK.

Brent and Todd are scheduled to fly into Base Camp at 5:00 PM with Chad, Ed, Jason, Tary and John.

Seth with Larry and Matt just returned from what sounds like some great climbing on the Moose's Tooth. Now they're unpacking and relaxing in the sunshine.

Another Group Gets Ready to go on the Mountain!

It's a busy day at AMS with two trips headed out for the West Buttress. Gear checking is going on right now.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

These boots were made for climbing--AMS expedition member Jill tries out some boots for her upcoming climb. In the background is food packing for the expedition.

The Aftermath

Here's what it looks like around here after a group gets back from a climb: drying out gear, sorting gear and then looking for a place to get a shower, a burger and a beer--maybe not in that order. I think that's why there is no one in this picture.

Summit for Someone

This is a picture of my screen saver that came with my computer. It's also a good photo of what the Summit for Someone crew just climbed. In the upper right hand section of the picture is the summit of the Moose's Tooth. Just to the left of the summit is a saddle, or a col. If you look closely, you can see a smattering of ice leading up to the col from the glacier below. That smattering of ice is called "Ham 'n' Eggs. Ham 'n' Eggs is a classic alpine ice climb sought after by alpinists all over the world.

Mike Janes and Chris Wright's team are loading up on a plane at base camp right now. They will be back here with in the hour.

Friday, May 21, 2010

decipher and updates

I couldn't figure out the spacing for the photos and the descriptions for the post below. Those of you who are following any of the folks below should be able to match the descriptions with the photos.

AND in the meantime I got a call from Rodrigo at High camp. He said that they had been hoping to go for it today, but that it was windy up above until about noon. so Rodrigo, Sissell and Jeff are going to rest at high camp and try for the summit tomorrow, weather dependent.

Todd Passey's team is moving up today and I believe Nate Opp is was well, according to Rodrigo.

There is some tent swapping going on between 14K and 17K. Mike Janes was able to leave his tents set up for the teams that are moving up today. That seriously cuts down on the pack weights of the groups heading up and down.

Real time photos from the mountain.

One of our guides, Melis, took a whole bunch of photos of our teams just for the blog.

Eddie Cunningham at 11K. Looks like they just arrived. Mount Capps and the start of the N. Ridge of Kahiltna Dome in the background.

Part of Peter Anderson and Nick D'Alessio's team at 11K.

Geoff at 11K getting ready to take off his snowshoes and start setting up camp.

Matt and Tery

Mark Postle's team at 14K. They are taking a rest day today at 14.

Ken and Carlos at 14K.

Here's a message from Ken: "Kayly, K.J. and Laura- Daddy misses his girls and is doing great at 14K on Denali."

Ken Potashner at 14K with Mount Foraker in the back ground.

Sissell, Jeff and Rodrigo at 14K. Rodrigo, Jeff and Sissell arrived to high camp last night. It sounds like the weather is splitter (really good) up there today. Rodrigo said that they were doing really well and were all settled in when he left a message last night. If I had to guess I would say that they are going for the summit now. Don't hold me to that though.

When I saw Rodrigo calling last night I missed his call 'cause I was on the other line with Mike Janes at high camp as well. Mike and his crew are hiking down from high camp as we speak.

AMS guides Matt Montavon and Dustin English.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hello From the Pika Glacier

Josh & Matt called with a report from the 12-day Mountaineering Course that is out on the Pika. He said that "everyone is doing excellent and having a great time". They are enjoying a lovely evening of blue sky. Hello from John, Jeff, Meg & Steve!

Message from the Mountain

"To Sal & Richard,
Have a great wedding day and a great marriage.
From Geoff,
at 9,500 feet and on our way up Mt. McKinley."
~ With Peter Anderson, Nick D & the gang...
on a beautiful puffy cloud day.

from Blogger Julia

Zenith, cumbre, acme, pinnacle, summit

Mike Jane's team made the summit last night. They had a long hard summit day, but everyone made it and is doing great. They were about to go to bed this morning around 6:30 AM when he left the message. Way to hang in there!

Rodrigo Mujica called a few minutes ago as well. He said they were doing excellant. They are still at 14K, but were slowly packing up to make the move to high camp. It was a bit windy up on the 16 ridge right now. That's why he said they were slowly packing. I bet there in somewhat of a holding pattern. That means that you start going through the motions of packing up and moving, but you don't take down your tents or kitchen yet. As you get more and more certain that you're going to move you put more and more things into your pack. They will have already dug their cache hole, made group gear piles etc. Water bottles are full, breakfast is done, Rodrigo is just waiting for more signs from the mountain. The good ol' holding pattern routine. Super typical of what goes on on any marginal day. We like to have pretty good weather for this move. It's a tough and exposed day and we need to have enough energy in reserve to be able to build walls and fortify camp on top of a long day.
Here's a picture of Denali pass on a windy morning. Probably similar to what the 16 ridge looks like from 14K. Often these windy days calm down as the morning goes on. That's what Rodrigo is hoping for at this point. And if it does calm down they will move and if it doesn't they'll stay put. The other thing to keep in mind when moving is the time of day. Ideally when a team rolls into high camp they do so with a fair bit of sunshine still hitting camp. If you do have to build a camp from scratch it is really nice to have some warmth to do so in. Even though it is light most all of the time up there right now, it is only "warm" when the sun is upon you. So, at some point, even if it does melolow out, guided teams will often stay put and try again the following day.

AMS guides making us proud as usual!

Interview with Hollis French at AMS's Mountain Shop

Listen to Hollis French talk about his ideas for Alaska's future on

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Not much new news. Mark Postle's group rolled in to 14K last night. They were planning to back carry today. The web cam sure makes the weather look good in the range today. If the winds are mellow and the temps are warm enough perhaps Mike Jane's team was able to make an attempt on the summit today. I'll update as soon as I here any updates on Mike's crew.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hollis French speaking at AMS's Mountain Shop Today, 5:30-7:30 pm

Alaska state senator and candidate for governor Hollis French comes to town today. Please join him this evening in an open discussion on his vision for Alaska. In addition to being an assistant district attorney, Hollis has found time to climb Mt. Hunter and Denali among his outdoor pursuits. He is a super guy, immediately likable, and one one of the most honest, hard working politicians out there. Good luck Hollis.

Monday, May 17, 2010

High camp

I talked to Nate Opp briefly earlier today. They are doing well. Nate is a man of few words.

Mike Janes and the rest of his crew headed up to High Camp this morning. I talked to him a bit this evening. They arrived and were able to move into some half built walls up there. They were just beefing them up now and melting some snow for water. They are planning on taking a rest day tomorrow. Sounded like a really nice day up there. Nate's, Rodrigo's and Todd's teams are all at 14K now.
Peter Anderson, Nick D'Alessio flew into Base Camp with Nav, Eddie, Trent, Alex, Geoff, and Shawn. This is a photo of part of the lunch spread that the Denali And Summit for Someone climbers had before they flew into the mountains. Each of our expeditions and courses enjoy one last "real" meal prepared at AMS before they go onto the glacier, sometimes for weeks at a time. We actually eat really good food in the mountains as well.

In this photo Seth Hobby checks Matt and Larry's gear. Matt and Larry are both with Summit For Someone. Summit For Someone raises Money for the Big City Mountaineers. Seth always takes lots of really good photos, so stay tuned for those.

Two of our guides, Melis and Joey just flew into the range to go climb the Cassin Ridge on Denali. The Cassin is the center most ridge in the photo. They were planning on heading up to 14K on the Buttress and waiting for a good weather window. It sounds like the good weather might hold for the next week or so. Then they'll go up the the West Rib Cut off and down climb the lower West Rib; that will put them just about at the base of the Cassin.

Here Beth and Justin prepare sleds for the season. We spend a lot of time rigging our sleds so they are ready for what they surely weren't originally intended for. Beth and Justin are our two interns from Alaska Pacific University (APU). They are here for the summer as part of their outdoor program at the school. They help out with everything and anything aropund AMS during the main season. They work hard and learn a lot about the guiding and outdoor education community.

Peter and Nick's crew just before take off.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A note from 14

I talked to one of the climbing rangers at 14 yesterday. He said that the weather had been quite poor lately. We often use the term "ping pong ball" or "stuck inside of a ping pong ball" to refer to being in a white out.
Mike Janes called in from 14K this afternoon. He said the weather was pretty nice there, but it was quite cold. The winds weren't too bad today like they have been in the 14K basin. Winds were pretty strong on the 16 ridge and nuking at high camp and higher. He thought that it would be a nice day to move from 11 to 14, so perhaps some of our other groups like Nate's, Todd's, Rodrigo's and/or Postle's might get around the corner and up to 14K.
Some of the moves and carries on the lower mountain can be done in marginal weather but getting to 14K, and even the carry to 13.5K requires better conditions. And the move to 17K demands almost perfect weather, especially early in the season when the temps are frigid already, never mind adding the wind chill factor into the equation.

Mike was hoping to be able to move up to high camp within the next day or two and get poised for the next good summit window. It usually takes between 7 and 9 hours to get to high camp (17,200') from 14K camp. The move from 14 to 17 is broken up into two sections: 14 to 16.2 (top of the fixed lines) and the 16 ridge into camp. 16.2 is where the team will pick up their cache. The first part of the move they have lighter packs (not light, but lighter) the the second part, the more technical, they have the heaviest packs. Denali is one of the few mountains where there are NO options for hiring porters. Every one who climbs Denali MUST be able to carry all of his or her own weight.

That's all for now.


Friday, May 14, 2010

News from the mid mountain

Rodrigo Mujica called in just a bit ago. He said that his team and all the other AMS groups he saw are doing well. The climbing teams with Rodrigo, Todd Passey and Nate Opp all carried to 13,500' today. The weather is good in there now. Most likely these teams will move up to 14K in the morning assuming the weather is still good in the morning.

Mark Postle and his team just rolled into 11K a little earlier today. There are huge advantages to being poised right where Mark's team is! Mark is just enough days behind 3 other AMS expeditions that his team gets to roll into all of the camps with drinking water, soup, a kitchen to borrow and many helping hands for everything else. It's a great advantage to have friends on the mountain.

Pictured above are climbers heading up "Squirrel Hill" with the lower Peter's Glacier in the back ground. The photo shows the area just before the "Polo Field" which leads to Windy Corner, which is 13,200 feet and the cache spot is another 30-40 minutes beyond Windy Corner at 13,500' in the flats, 1-2 hours shy of 14.2K camp.

Peter Anderson and Nick D'Alessio began packing for the May 17th Denali Expedition today.

AMS Alumni, Daniel sits atop a summit in Little Switzerland.

The May 12 day Mountaineering Course, led by Josh Hoeschen and Matt Lee, flew into the Pika Glacier, AKA Little Switzerland this afternoon.


Another Group Heading into the Range!

Guides Matt Lee and Josh Hoeshen heading out with students John, Steve, Jeff and Meg for a 12 Day Mountaineering Course on the Pika Glacier in Little Switzerland. Yahoo!