Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31, 5:00 PM Update

Greg Collins 5/21 Upper West Rib called in from high camp at 3:30 PM (17,200 ft.) of the West Buttress. The winds are mellow and temperatures are -15C (5F). They will make a summit attempt tomorrow, weather permitting. I guess they are not attempting the Rib and staying on the Buttress.

Hobby's Norsk Team is pulling into high camp right about now. They'll probably rest and make a summit attempt on Thursday.

We haven't heard from the other teams...but according to their schedule:

Falley 5/22: Moving to 17,200 on 6/1
McBrayer 5/23: Moving to 17,200 on 6/3
Team Spagnoli 5/24: Moving to 17, 200 on 6/4
Russell Hunter 5/30: They should be camped at 7,800 feet and do a carry to 10,000 feet. This means they will haul gear up to 10K, cache it there and then head back down to 7,800 feet to sleep. This is a good way to acclimate.

14K Camp with Mount Foraker in the background. Foraker is 17,400 feet tall; the third highest mountain in the United States.

Here's a link to weather on the Mountain

blogger laura

AMS' Second Intern Arrived

Meet Erin Pollack who arrived this week after her classes and an awesome final class in the Ruth Glacier area ended. She's been put to work sewing tents and the usual assortment of chores from hole digging to filing to lunch making.

This is her new home until August.

blogger laura

TnT Back in Talkeetna

Todd Passey and Todd Tumolo's team are in the back taking off their mountaineering boots and eating watermelon. They are super psyched to be back in the warmth and green. I could only take a few pics before the smell of those boots drove me back to the office. They're on their way to the Talkeetna Roadhouse for lots of food....not even taking a shower first! Oh, I pity the folks sitting next to them.

Well Done!

blogger Laura

Monday, May 30, 2011

West Buttress 5/30 Hunter + Stroud; Glacier Trek 5/30 Passey

AMS Guides Alex Stroud and Russell Hunter's 5/30 West Buttress team flew in on schedule at 5 PM to base camp after a day's preparations in Talkeetna.

Guides Alex and Russell with Makoto, Nolan, Deborah, Adam, Gayle, Michael, and Jack Russell terrier Sam. Sam, unfortunately, will not be joining the expedition and is on his way home to Anchorage.

Winslow Passey's team flew out this morning as well for a day glacier trek.


TnT update

Todd texted me later last night after my last post to let me know that everyone was safe and back in camp!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Team Todd and Todd.

Guide Todd Tumolo called in a few minutes ago to report that part of their team has summitted. Todd Passey reached the summit with 4 team members and Todd Tumolo and 2 team members turned around near the Football field. Tumolo was back in camp at the tents and in radio contact with the remainder of the team. Passey is almost back to camp now.

Congtatulations to EVERYONE up there, job well done! Summit day on Denali (whether you make it all the way or not) is one of the hardest days of anyones' lives. Standing on the top only takes a few minutes. It takes weeks to get even close to that point. It was a team effort.

More updates soon.


Joey McBrayer 5/23 and Leighan's Falley 5/22 teams

Guide Joey McBrayer called in from 14K this evening. His and Leighan Falley's teams are all moved in with walls built. They are doing well and are planning on sticking to the schedule as the weather looks good.

Joey's guess was that Todd Passey and Todd Tumelo team was probably going for the summit today. The weather high on the mountain looked good with no visible signs of any wind. We have not heard from them directly, we hope to soon, those boys don't call in too often!

Nate Opp with Team Spagnoli

Photo of the 13.5K cache site. (where Nate called from)
Here is a pic of a typical cache. Caches need to be buried deep in the snow with at least a meter of snow on top to prevent the ravens and/or the wind from un-burying it.

Nate Opp Called in today from the other side of Windy Corner. They were able to put their cache in today. He said that the travelling conditions and weather are excellant right now. They are doing well and are hoping to move up to 14K camp tomorrow weather permitting.

Ben Gilmore Group

Josh, Dori and Ben back from the mountains and happy after a successful climb!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Upper West Rib 5/21, Collins

Guide Greg Collins phoned in from the 14,200 camp this evening.

Today they climbed up to 16,800' on the West Buttress Route to acclimatize and that went very well. He said that they have 3" of fresh snow at 14,200' and that they will rest in camp tomorrow. Rest days at 14,200' are well deserved and activities include lots of hydrating, hydrating, hydrating and eating, eating, eating.

After that they will move up to their camp on the Upper West Rib, weather permitting.

WB 5/16, TnT (Todd Passey & Todd Tumelo)

I just got a text from Team Todds' sat phone, they are taking a rest day today at high camp and will give the summit a go tomorrow weather permitting. They are doing well!

Friday, May 27, 2011

update from 14K

Here a group heads up and around Washburn's Thumb on the 16 ridge. Washburn's Thumb is approx 16,800'.

Seth Hobby called in from 14K tonight. He was hanging out in one of the AMS posh's (kitchen tent) relaxing after dinner with several other AMS guides and team members. Seth said that his team as well as every other AMS team was looking super solid. Todd and Todd's crew were on their way to 17K as we were talking.

I'm not sure what Todd's plans are. Weather is good in there now. The move from 14 to 17 is a long and hard one. Depending on weather and how every one is feeling tomorrow will determine whether or not they rest or go for it tomorrow.

We'll let you all know when we know more.

Ben Gilmore Group

Called to check in, they are doing Great!! They have climbed almost all of Bacon and Eggs near the Mini Moon Flower on Mt. Hunter. Tomorrow evening they will head for the Southwest Ridge of Mt. Francis.


Update from 5/23 McBrayer

Guide Joey McBrayer called in today from 11,000. He reports that his team is making and breaking camp quickly and efficiently and moving efficiently as well. They backcarried today and will likely carry around Windy Corner tomorrow.

Messages from the team:
Bruce wants to let us know that he's doing great and having a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Sieto sends his love to Thea and a hello to friends near and far.
Jonathan says hello to Jennifer, Bella, and Cooper - misses you and loves you very much.


Running Pro

(Link to last night's news article.) The accidents on and around Denali is traumatic and unusual and sad. It is an alarm to the seriousness of the environment we travel.

The route ascending Denali Pass is different from year to year. Since last year one of the cracks in the middle of the face has grown. To avoid it, the route goes more direct after the rocks. This requires a longer traverse to reach the Pass. Traverses require more protection. You could have one, two, then three members of a rope team fall before the force comes on to one picket. The rope needs to be clipped to 2 or 3 pickets. With a 200' rope, you need 12-14 extra pickets that can be wanded and left in place for the return. Before descending Denali Pass, group up and take a break. Pass around a thermos of hot tea, check your crampons, and get everyone focused on climbing safely. I also pray for strength which can't hurt.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Group In, One Group Out

The Kantarcis returned today from Kahiltna Base Camp area where they were climbing with guide Pat Ormond. Watermelon sure does taste good when you get off a glacier.

Brothers Scott and Ethan are headed out for a Custom 6 Day Mountaineering Course led by guide Greg Runyan.

It is 73 degrees in Talkeetna today and 20 hours of daylight!

~blogger laura

AMS Denali Update 5/25 at 5:00 PM Alaska Time

Below are the AMS teams currently climbing Denali; their start date and Lead guide / team name:

5/16 - TnT (Todd Passey and Todd Tumolo) is at 14K feet and resting. They are well.
5/19 - Seth Hobby's Norsk Team, just arrived at 14K, all is well....Skol!
5/21 - Collins' Upper West Rib Team, called in 5:oo PM, They are "happy little campers" at 14K
5/22 - Leighan Falley, texted at 5:oo PM, "at 11,000 feet, McBrayer team is with us and all is good"
5/23 - JoeyMcBrayer, Just behind Team Falley and doing great.
5/24 - Team Spagnoli/Opp is at the base of Ski Hill, 7,900 feet

Weather on the mountain is very nice and teams are either moving up or resting. We have no teams camped above 14,200 feet. As teams call in we will post their progress.

We also have custom climbing happening on the Kahiltna and Ruth glacier areas as well as a 6 Day Mountaineering Course departing this afternoon.

Run Matt Run!

Here's Matt and his gear cart (baby stroller) at milepost 198 as of 5:00 PM 5/25.
He is southbound and will be stopping in at AMS HQ.

AMS guide Beth Cleary was northbound on the George Parks Highway and snapped a picture of fellow guide, Matt Montavan as he runs across Alaska. You can learn more about his challenge by going to his website: www.endorphinechase.com

Matt will be guiding the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge up Denali on June 24th.

blogger laura

Word from 5/16 TNT

Guide Todd Passey phoned in late Wednesday night. They are at the 14,200 foot camp. They will rest today. In the next day or two they will carry their extra food and equipment to the top of the fixed lines (16,200'), returning to sleep at 14K. When weather and conditions permit they will make a move to high camp (17,200). All are very well.

Here's a team practicing fixed line ascent
(clipping in and out of the rope) before heading up
the fixed line to 16,200 feet. You can see the headwall in the background.

The headwall above the 14,200' camp which
can be seen in the middle right of this photo.

~blogger laura

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beautiful Day

Just a quick note to let you know that the entire Alaska Range is looking beautiful this afternoon.

The day started out with a few clouds and some wind over the summit Denali, but this afternoon is spectacular.

My assumption is that all other AMS teams are have made upward progress today.

- Caitlin

What Climbers Do When They're Not Climbing....

Guides Alex, Leighan and Greg

5/22 Falley phone-in

Leighan Falley called in today. They are at the bottom of ski hill (7,800 feet) and will be heading to 11,000 foot camp tomorrow. The weather is great and all are in good spirits.

Keep in mind that they start from the Kahiltna Base Camp at 7,200 feet then descend about 500 feet down "Heartbreak Hill" to the main Kahiltna before beginning their ascent again to the 7,800 camp.

blogger laura

Meet our Intern John

John Sykes is originally from Massachusetts but has spent the last three years in Anchorage. He attended Alaska Pacific University and is now having fun sharpening crampons, teaching Denali Skills Workshops, setting up tents, making lunches, digging holes, raking...the list goes on and on.

He seems to stay as far away from the office as possible-- probably because I asked him to file a bunch of stuff in the basement...not a fun job.

~blogger laura

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Denali West Butress 5/24/2011 Opp + Senden

The Denali West Butress 5/24 crew with AMS Guides Nate Opp and Kirby Senden headed out today on schedule after a merry couple of days around headquarters.

Group lunch today!


5/24 Spagnoli Team Packing Lunches

Shari and Mary packin' food for Denali. Guides pack breakfast and dinner food but the team packs their own lunches; it helps make sure they pack food they like and will eat.
They are part of the Spagnoli Custom West Buttress climb being led by Guides Nate Opp and Kirby Senden. They are scheduled to fly at five. The weather today is fantastic; blue skies and sunshine.

blogger laura

Monday, May 23, 2011

Update from 11,000'

AMS Guide Lisa Van Sciver from the Team Norsk Expedition called in tonight from the 11,000' camp where they will be for 2-3 nights. They have set up their tents and are all settled in. She reports that they have been traveling in white-out conditions on the Kahiltna Glacier. There are about 10 inches of fresh snow on the glacier, which is manageable trail breaking. All is well with the team.

The AMS 5/16 Passey Expedition is at the 11,000' camp as well. They are doing well and today they made a carry to the windy corner area of the route. It has been very windy above the 11,000' camp so this team has been looking forward this day and making upward progress! They will return to the 11,000' camp tonight and if weather permits, they will move up to 14,200' tomorrow. Storm days are part of climbing Denali, however, and the 11,000' camp is a fine place to wait one out.

- Caitlin

Denali West Butress 5/23/11 McBrayer

The 5/23 West Butress crew with AMS Guides Joey McBrayer and Chris Smith flew in on schedule today to Kahiltna Base Camp. They're super psyched.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Denali West Buttress 5/22, Falley

The May 22, West Buttress Team with AMS Guides Leighan Falley and Dustin English exchanged green grass and bluebells for the white world of Denali. They flew in today on schedule.

Pablo, Rob, Leighan, Dustin, Robin, Juan, Frode and Geir say, "MEOW", before launching.


Custom Climb 5/22/11 Ormond

Kejal and Orhun with AMS guide Patrick Ormond flying up to Kahiltna Base Camp today for climbing on Mt Hunter, Kahiltna Queen, and Mt Francis, an itinerary of technical climbs in the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. -AW

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Upper West Rib Collins 5/21/2011

Helmut and Matt with AMS Guide Greg Collins flying to base camp and ready for the Denali Upper West Rib Expedition!


Ultramarathoner Matt Montavon

Check out this article about Matt Montavon, currently running across the state of Alaska. Matt was an intern at AMS a couple years ago. He is now one of our fulltime guides, aside from a monthlong run at thirty miles a day, totaling 1100 miles from Deadhorse to Homer. Matt is part of four AMS guides who will be climbing with a group of Wounded Warriors later in the season.

This is the second Wounded Warrior group we have been involved with on Denali. We start working with the wounded warrior teams over one year before they come climb Denali with us. Here is Matt's site describing what it is he's doing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

AMS Team Norsk, 5/19 with guides Seth Hobby and Lisa Van Sciver ready to start the adventure on Denali's West Butress. They flew onto the glacier on schedule and are most likely moving to 7,800 ft camp today.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Todds are heading to bed at 11K

Todd and Todd (Todds) are all situated and everyone is doing well at 11. They plan to backcarry tomorrow to pick up their groceries and extra clothing items that they cached yesterday in the 10,000 foot basin. If the weather is good the following day they will front carry to somewhere near Windy Corner. All is good in their world.

What Guides Do When they're not Climbing...

Guides Alex, Leighan and Greg

Seamstress (seamster?) At Work

Rob Gowler showing off his pin cushion wrist band

Rob inspects his work; he sews these kitchen tents for use in the mountains. After a hole is dug in the snow, a single pole is used in the center, like a circus tent, to create a sheltered cooking area. I overheard the guides saying how they wanted certain colored ones for their expeditions. I'm sure they are going to attract a lot of attention on the mountain.

~blogger laura

So Long Jack

He really did do more than eat potato chips and surf the web.

We are saying goodbye to Jack today. He's been around here the last few months...taking a mountaineering course, digging holes, hauling dirt and other duties as assigned...climbing Denali and now he's off for greener (warmer?) pastures in the Lower 48.

Safe travels and have fun...from the AMS crew.

Hobby's Norsk Team Gets Ready; Gear Check

Guide Seth Hobby is impressed with Paul T's combo pocket knife/altimeter.

Paul S and Guide Lisa Van Sciver check off the gear list.

Each team member lays their gear out on a tarp and the guides go over every piece to make sure it makes the cut to go into the soon-to-be heavy backpack.

Guides Seth Hobby and Lisa VanSciver along with a Norwegian crew will be taking off later today for Denali.

~blogger laura

Team TNT....Movin' On Up!

The bottom of Ski Hill

Almost to the top of Ski Hill (7,900 feet)

Although we haven't heard from Todd Passey - 5/16 Expedition, we know that they are probably moving to the 11,000 foot camp today. Here are some file photos from the area they are traveling through. Todd will most likely call in from the 14,000 foot camp which they should reach in a few days.

~blogger laura

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5/4 Talcott Expedition Returned Today

Bill amidst the gear...check out the new leaves on the trees.

Guide Dan Corn goes right for the computer.

Gary Talcott's team returned on a beautiful afternoon in good spirits and had a great experience on the mountain.

~blogger laura