Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just a thought regarding Anderson's Team

I really hate to make predictions but I know many of you are awaiting info about Peter Anderson's team.

Firstly, know they are safe and sound. If anything EVER goes wrong on the mountain we know about it (and fast), so try not to worry about that.

If I were to make an educated guess about Peter Anderson's team  for you it is this: They moved to high camp yesterday, they rested today, they will try (weather permitting) for the summit tomorrow.

Resting for one day at high camp is standard protocol for climbs of the West Buttress.  The weather looks good for the next few days, so I'm hoping for the best for them.

The two other teams (Hamill and Mainer) that reached the summit today were both small groups of 3 climbers, this gives them the flexibility of moving when they feel good, and resting whenever they choose.

Since Mike Hamill and Aaron Mainer's teams are on their way down this evening, I'd be willing to bet that fellow AMS guides Peter Anderson and Beth Cleary are making hot water for them. Summit day is a strenuous one for just about every climber up there. It is great to have friends to welcome you back into high camp with hot water for soup and drinks.

Be well,

Summit Day!

Calm winds and good visibility for those heading up today. I was taking photos for NPS and caught this team on the summit ridge. It was just about the time Hamill and Mainer's teams were up there. They should be back in camp by now and heading to 14,200' tomorrow. 
standing by, Colby

Call From the Top!

WhooHOO! Guide Larry Holmgren gave us a call!!! AMS Guides Mike Hamill, Larry Holmgren with Kent along with the 6/15 Mainer Team with Michael were standing on the top of North America at 5:12 pm Alaska Time. They said they would give us a call again tomorrow on their way down.

No word yet regarding the Anderson team; we hope to hear from them soon.

Within a few hours we will have photos of climbers summiting today (Colby was able to get on an over the summit flight today), and hopefully he will have pictures of these guys! 


More News from the Hill...

Forest Wagner 6/20 just phoned in to say they arrived at 14K camp. He is there with Vernovage 6/22. They had a weather delay at 11,000 feet. They are ready to "rock 'n roll," says Forest. His and Vernovage's plan is to carry to the ridge (16,200) tomorrow, sleep back at 14K. They will move to 17K on Sunday.

Messages from Wagner's team: Pat L. wishes his Dad a Happy Birthday and Viki T. says Happy Birthday to Mom on 7/2.

Forest saw the Combat Wounded Vets...they made a carry to Windy Corner which is 13,500. They will have ditched their snowshoes and switched to crampons for travel on the colder upper mountain. They will sleep back at 11,000 feet and then moved to 14K dependent.

blogger laura

This Just In...

From the mountain grapevine...Anderson 6/13, Mainer 6/15Hammil, 6/15 all are at 17,200 foot high camp. I did not speak with them directly so I don't have details - SO SORRY!

I expect they will call us in today or tomorrow, we post it immediately when we hear from them. We try hard not to make predictions, but here goes...they could be back at base camp in two to three days....right on schedule.

Team Gowler 6/27 is doing well. They made a carry of gear to 10,500 feet today.
Blogger Laura
A photo of walls at high camp from an earlier expedition.

The green route is the West Buttress Route

14,200 foot camp.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quick update

I have heard through the well informed grapevine that today the weather was (and still is) nice today at 14,200' and above.

I have not heard from our teams at 14,200' directly so I am making an educated guess that the AMS teams led by Peter Anderson (Denali 6/13), Mike Hamill (Denali 6/15), and Aaron Mainer (Denali 6/15)  have moved up to the 17,200' high camp today.

Please know that as we hear from them directly or hear about their progress from a trusted source who is on the mountain we will update the blog.


AMS climbers nearing the 17,200' high camp, Mt. Foraker in the background. 

Combat Wounded Vets at 11,000 feet

Just got off the Sat phone with Tim Hewette, one of the AMS guides on the Combat Wounded Vets expedition. He said they are all healthy and doing well. He added that Justin is "working his tail off" and doing great. They had challenging glacier traveling conditions on the lower glacier but are in good spirits and are moving at a respectable pace.

Their progression of camps since leaving Kahiltna Glacier Base camp (7200') has been 7,500', 7,800', 9,000', and now 11,000 feet.

I told them they had many fans following the blog and that they need to call in more often...they promised they would.

Below are images of other AMS climbers traveling to and building camps at 11,000', so this is what the guys are doing and what they are seeing today.

Blogger Laura

Please note: These photos are not of the Combat Wounded Vets team, they are from a previous AMS expedition. Hopefully we will get some photos of them from some other AMS teams who will be returning from The Mountain later this week.

This Just In...

Gowler 6/27 just sent a text message: AT 78. NICE WX. IT FROZE LAST NIGHT. WE COULD C WW @ TOP OF SKI HIL MVING 2 10 OR 11.
Translation: Rob Gowler's 6/27 Denali Team is at the 7800' camp (see below post to view pics of that area) It got below freezing last night which is great, as it makes for all around better traveling conditions on the glacier.

Gowler could see the Combat Wounded Vets higher on the trail at the top of Ski Hill which is 9,600 feet. They could be moving camp to up there or going on up 11,000 foot camp.

We'll post more when we know more.

blogger laura

7,800 foot Camp

That is Ski Hill in the background. The pointy tent on the right is the cook tent.

Nice views from this camp.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wounded Warriors BBQ

Master Chief and Run JC having some R and R before deployment. That was a fun BBQ.

Quick Update

The Combat Wounded Veterans left base camp last night or early this morning headed to the 7,800 foot camp on the main Kahiltna Glacier. This is generally done in one single carry. Meaning they will carry all of their gear--about 120 pounds per person. To get there, it is 500 feet down hill from base camp (7,200 ft) to the main Kahiltna Glacier then a gradually uphill to 7,800 feet.

Vernovage's team is doing a carry from 11,000' to 13,500' cache. They'll probably spend the night at the 11,000 foot camp and then move up to 14,200' camp. 

If the weather is good on the mountain today then we can expect the other teams to move up from 14K. Will update you as we know.

Blogger Laura

Rope teams moving to 7,800 feet.

Final Denali WB Expedition Left This Morning - 6/27 Gowler

We bid adieu to our Operations Manager and Lead Guide, Rob Gowler as well as our Intern Erin Pollock and Guide Joey McBrayer (his third expedition this season) for the 6/27 Gowler Expedition. They had a one day weather delay but were able to practice their skills here in town so they will be right on schedule when they hit the glacier later this morning. 

The final West Buttress team of the season: Guide Rob Gowler, Anastasia, Ian, Amy, Duncan, Intern Erin Pollock, Ed and kneeling in front, Ed's son Tim and Guide Joey McBrayer.

Lead Guide Gowler is all smiles to get out of the office and into the big hills for the next 20 days.

Loading the food bags up...each team member will carry group gear such as food, fuel and tents.

Amy does her last minute packing and put her hair in braids for the next 20 days.

Big Foot Tim is about to make friends with his boots.
Anastasia laces up.

blogger laura

Monday, June 27, 2011

Updates from Denali

We spoke with Mike Hamill, lead guide on the 6/15 West Buttress expedition, earlier today. His team along with Peter Anderson's 6/13 and Aaron Mainer's 6/15 expeditions are waiting out the weather at 14k. Mike reports that it's been "snowing and blowing." Weather isn't too bad, but hasn't been good enough to move up the mountain. All three groups are cached and ready to go up, however, as soon as it's clear.

We have word from slightly lower elevation as well: Greg Vernovage and the 6/22 West Buttress expedition are at 11k and are probably carrying today - and at basecamp, it's still snowing.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Todd Passey 6/10 WB Team

Todd Passey's team flew back to Talkeetna yesterday at 8:30PM! They arrived in Basecamp at 5:30 AMbut needed to wait all day until the weather cleared. Todd and team had a great climb and are happy to be back!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Updates from Denali

Forest Wagner on the 6/20 West Buttress expedition called in this morning from 11K. The weather is stormy, but the crew is doing "super good." Despite the weather they remain strong and in good spirits, and on schedule. Forest said he saw Todd Passey's 6/10 team heading downmountain last night. Todd's crew of five is currently at basecamp waiting for the snow to clear. (At least it stopped raining.) They may have a window of flyable conditions later today before the next storm blows in.

Dustin English from the AMS/IMG Vernovage Team texted us this afternoon. They arrived into the 11,000' camp today. Dustin wrote that the weather is snowy and windy and everyone is doing well.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Combat Wounded Veterans West Buttress Expedition Flies In

The proud team ready to fly
Our crew at Denali Basecamp
Denali peak with lenticulars (clouds from fast winds)
Vic proud to pose on the glacier in front of an American flag
Kahiltna Glacier cradled in front of Mt Foraker (L) and Mt Crosson (R)

The 11 climbers on the 2011 Denali Challenge for Combat Wounded Veterans flew in this evening with AMS guides Tim Hewette, Alex Stroud, Matt Montavon, and Noah Ronczowski. I flew into basecamp with the third plane (yes, 15 climbers takes three small airplanes!). It's a beautiful flight in, and we were all marvelling at the green tundra, meandering rivers, black hills, and the suddenly-appearing snow-crested peaks. Base Camp is quiet, and beautiful, with only a few camp groups around. The team will be acclimatizing, preparing, and working on skills for the first day and will make their first move early Sunday.


Combat Wounded Veterans Denali Challenge Prep

Gerard, and tales of airplanes driving into crevasses in Antarctica. Hearsay? Maybe.

Colby with Tyler, Vic, and Justin, enjoying the sunshine.

Captain Dave Olson and Evan, preparing their stomachs for a long day. "You know, I could have been doing anything else for three weeks - golfing, sailing..." Dave muses. "Massages!" guide Alex suggests. I wonder what 17-year-old Evan added to that list. But instead father and son are going to Denali. Not a bad option in my book.

AMS Headquarters has been busy the last few days as the Denali Challenge for Combat Wounded Veterans Expedition prepares to fly in. Yesterday the whole crew of 15 (guides Tim Hewette, Matt Montavon, Alex Stroud, and Noah Ronczowski with three PJs and eight climbers) packed their lunches, got their gear together, and briefed on the climb. Today they finished packing gear, went over fixed line ascension skills, paused for a cheerful group lunch, and briefed with National Parks Service. They are on schedule to fly at 5. We'll miss them - but the three weeks will pass like nothing.



Todd and his whole team made it back down to high camp no problem last night. He'll be heading down to 14K and on toward Base Camp later today. He will most likely get to Base Camp tomorrow in the early morning as long as the weather holds.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another SUMMIT!!

Todd Passey just called in a few minutes ago from the top of Pig Hill. They had already been to the top and were on the way back down to high camp. He said his whole crew made it up. Nicely done!


Updates from Denali

A shot of 14K camp from last summer. There may be as many camps there now!

AMS Guide Aaron Mainer on the 6/15 West Buttress team phoned in this morning to report that they are doing well. The weather is great at 14K and they're planning on moving to 17K tomorrow. Aaron reports that Peter Anderson's 6/13 team is resting today at 14K and is planning on carrying to 16 ridge tomorrow, and that all is well with them. Aaron thinks that Todd Passey's 6/10 team is probably going for the summit today, given the weather.


Mountaineering Course Returns

Winslow Passey's happy team of 12 students and 3 instructors returned from the Pika Glacier. They are consuming mass quantities of chips, oj, watermelon and enjoying walking around in bare feet. Between their return and an expedition heading out tomorrow, almost every inch of ground is taken up with gear.

blogger laura

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

12 Day Mountaineering Course Having Fun!

Guide Winslow Passey phoned in from the Pika Glacier this afternoon. They group is doing great. They have covered a lot of stuff and did some multi-pitched rock climbing as well as ice climbing along with tours of the area. They attempted to climb a peak last night in honor of the Solstice but got weathered out. They have had some rain and snow, and are learning lots.

They are scheduled to fly out tomorrow dependent.

blogger laura


AMS is proud to host a BBQ tonight for the Combat Wounded Veterans Denali Challenge. The fun starts around 6:00 pm and we'll have a band later in the evening. If you're in the neighborhood...drop by.

A Busy Day at AMS

PJ's Jeremy and Kris with Guide Matt Montavan talking shop.

Guide Tim Hewette checks gear with PJ Bill

Guide Christian March sorting gear after returning from the Combat Wounded Veteran Mountaineering Course.

John H. looking very organized after just returning from Hoeschen's West Buttress expedition

Happy Mayur begins unpacking all that wet, soggy gear.

Befuddled guides Josh and Mike who rolled in last night from Denali sort shovels, wands and snow shoes.

Two expeditions expedition getting ready to go out.

We have the Combat Wounded Veteran's Denali Challenge Expedition leaving on 6/24. They will be assisted by Pararescue Jumpers (PJs) Kris, Bill and Jeremy. We are honored to have this group with us.

~blogger laura
Greg Vernovage's AMS/IMG expedition flew into the Alaska Range this morning. IMG or International Mountain Guides is an organization that partners with us on Denali Expeditions...we think about and climb mountains in very much the same way. Greg guides for them as well as us.

Will it all fit...

Don't forget the people...Guide Greg Vernovage, Vince, Rick, Mark V. Mark D, Guide Dustin English, Anna and Jean.

Josh Hoeschen's team made it back to Talkeetna last night. I bet they are sleeping in today. I'll post pictures of them unpacking later today.

~blogger laura

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Larry Holmgren just called in from 14K. He, Mike and Kent are all doing really well. They are thinking about carrying up and caching on the 16 ridge tomorrow.

Peter Anderson's team and Aaron Mainer's team are both in 14 camp as well. They are doing good too. I didn't talk to them though, so I don't know what their exact plans are.

Everyone is cruising along on schedule. Forest Wagner and his team are planning on heading from base camp to the bottom of ski hill in the middle of the night tonight.


A pretty nice day in camp, but windy up high. Very similar to what is going on right now.

Passey and his crew are still waiting it out at high camp. It's pretty nice in camp, but the winds have been whipping up high. They still have lots of time.

Sounds like it just got flyable at base camp, so Hoeschen and his team may be coming out tonight after all. - Quick Update: YES, they have made it back to Talkeetna!

Some Got In...Others Did Not Get Out

It is 6:00 PM here at AMS HQ and the weather has closed in preventing more flights from going to base camp. Unless the weather changes in the next hour or so, Hoeschen's team will be spending the night at base camp. They are finished with heavy packs and sleds and there's plenty of food to eat. Patience is all part of the mountain climbing.

The Combat Wounded Veterans' Mountaineering Course was able to fly out of the Pika Glacier this afternoon. They're in the back yard eating watermelon.

~blogger laura

Base Camp on a partly sunny day.

It's Flyable!

...And that means that Forest Wagner's 6/20 Denali Expedition is flying in to Base Camp (one day late) and Hoeschen's team should be flying out. Hoeschen's team might not be at the top of the flight list as they only arrived in this morning. It wasn't flyable yesterday so there could be a backlog of climbers itching to get out.

We also expect the Combat Wounded Veteran's to fly out of the Pika Glacier today.

(left to right) Guides Dustin Eroh and Forest Wagner, Pat, Michael, Viki, Jim, Christian and Steve strike a quick pose before heading to the airport.

~blogger laura

AMS/IMG Vernovage Team Gets Ready

Guides Greg Vernovage and Dustin English are guiding the 6/22 Denali West Buttress Expedition scheduled to leave tomorrow. Here's some of the gang packing their lunches for the next 21 days and gear checking.

~blogger laura