Sunday, July 31, 2011

12 Day Course

The 12 day Mountaineering Course remains on the Eldridge Glacier. Today, the weather was not good enough for the airplanes to fly into the mountains and pick them up on the glacier. For safety reasosns, planes must fly under Visusal Flight Rules (VFR) in the Alaska Range.  They are doing well and are setttled into their basecamp, eating, drinking, and awaiting better weather.

Here's hoping for clear skies and flying airplanes tomorrow!!!

- Caitlin
The team at the START of their course, they will look a bit more rugged when they return!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Climbing, Climbing and more Climbing

Forest Wagner called in on behalf of the 12 Day Mountaineering Course. He said that they are "sitting in the sun on the glacier and having a great time."

Yesterday they climbed a rock buttress on the south ridge of Peak Bagger. Today they had a class about avalanches; avalanche terrain, route finding and recognizing clues to instability. Tomorrow they plan on climbing Peak 8,404. Saturday they will be ice climbing and then moving camp back to the Landing Zone to fly out, if weather allows, on Sunday morning.

~blogger laura

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bye Alex

Another guide heads south. Alex Stroud worked two Denali Expeditions, an Advanced Mountaineering Course and several workshops for us this year. He's headed to warm and sunny Montana and then in his own words he's "not sure where else..." Many of AMS field staff have mastered the free bird lifestyle!
Alex says goodbye and heads to the airport.

In the meantime, we have four more instructors arriving this week for our upcoming mountaineering courses. After 2 days of rainy weather, it is beautiful today in Talkeetna.

The 12 Day Mountaineering Course led by Forest and Noah is also enjoying the weather. Last night they were out climbing peaks at 11:00 pm to take advantage of the optimal snow conditions. Freezing temperatures = solid snow = more efficient climbing = no over heating. They are all well and having a great time.
AMS 12 day course camp located on the Eldridge Glacier, view looking south.
Climbers are heading out of camp in the shaded area.

~Blogger Laura and Caitlin

Monday, July 25, 2011

12 day course update

AMS instructor Forest Wagner just called in from the Eldgride Glacier.

The team is doing great.  It has been cloudy and snowing for the past 2 days. The glacier has accumulated 6" of snow and the team is getting very good at glacier travel because of that.  Tomorrow, they plan to move their camp to a higher elevation on the glacier. They also plan to climb another peak or two before the end of thier course.

The weather report is looking good for the next few days so they are in for some fun days ahead.

Spirits are high and today marks the second birthday celebration during their course - Happy Birthday Carter!!!

It was Instructor Noah's Birthday on July 23rd.

AMS student climbing a peak in the Eldridge Glacier

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Peak of Summer, it is cool in AK!

We are enjoying the peak of summer here before the berries ripen, the fireweed blossoms reach the tops of the stalks and the leaves start to turn yellow.  It all happens so fast!  The strawberries are ripe (home grown) and blueberries (wild) are just starting to ripen.  Temps are cool, especially at night.
Part of the AMS Family, enjoying a beautiful, warm day in Talkeetna.  Pictured are: Lisle, Caitlin, Colby, Rob & Laura.
Looking to escape the heat index?  Come to Alaska! 
Grab some lemonade and check out these options:

August 20-21 - Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue Workshop, Matanuska Glacier
August 22-27 - Denali Photo Workshop, Multiple location course with Tom Bol!
September 1-12 - 12-Day Mountaineering Course, 9 spaces available
September 4-9 -  6-Day Mountaineering Course, 4 spaces available

Thinking about adventure this winter or want to train for your Denali Expedition?
We're booking for Aconcagua Expeditions:
December 1-19, 2011
January 9-27, 2012
February 9-27, 2012

Contact the AMS Office if you have any questions.  Summer office hours will soon end; we'll be here Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm until October.  From October to March we're here 10 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday.
Cheers & Happy Summer from the AMS Office Staff,
Laura, Bobbi & Julia

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Great Weather on the Eldridge

Forest & Noah sent us a message from the 12-day Mountaineering Course that things are great on the Eldridge Glacier!  They are enjoying nice weather and climbed Peak 8,100 yesterday.  They also had great classes on self-arrest and knots.
There are many unnamed peaks in the Alaska Range, their elevation is typically the only notation you'd find on a map.  Surrounding the Eldridge are numerous peaks around 8,000 feet high.  The surface of the glacier, where the team is camping, is around 5,000-5,500 feet above sea level, so these climbs are about 2,500-3,000 feet of elevation gain.  They are surrounded by beauty!
~blogger Julia

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mountaineering Course update from Forest & Noah!

Students on a 12-day Course with their glacier kitchen!
Forest Wagner called to pass along their update for the blog last night after they got their cook tents set up and in the groove for making dinner. Yesterday (Thursday) they climbed "Peak 7,691" and if they weather is good today (it is!) they will attempt another peak. They are doing well with Glacier Travel, their spirits are high & they have a great group.  Yippee!

~Blogger Julia

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

12 Day Mountaineering Course Begins!

Our Denali Expedition season has wrapped for the year and this leaves us to focus on our  Mountaineering Courses which run March through September each year. 

Guides Forest Wagner and Noah Ronczkowski  and their students are psyched to be going to the Alaska Ranges' Eldridge Glacier for twelve days of fun, learning and climbing. They may call in to update us but we don't expect too many calls. If we hear from them we'll update the blog. They will have full days of instruction, practice, climbing, traveling, shoveling, eating, climbing, and much more...

~blogger laura & Caitlin

July courses get the benefit of eating local foods: Fresh grilled King Salmon and just picked garden salad with greens and strawberries from the AMS garden.  Guide Noah caught the King salmon on Clear Creek just upriver from Talkeetna.

Steve loads up on the homegrown salad fixings...he won't be seeing any green veggies for the next 12 days.

Guide Noah teaches fixed line ascention skills before heading onto the glacier.

Allegra shows the group how to use an ascender.

Final Packing...Carter is ready to go.

And they're off!  The Team: Peter, Carter, John, Forest, Steve (top row)
Yuri, Allegra and Noah (kneeling)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gowler Denali 6/27 Returns!

The AMS June 27, 2011 Denali expedition led by Rob Gowler has returned! Welcome back team and well done.

The return of this team marks the end of another great season on Denali for AMS.

Thanks to all of you that make it happen so well.

NPS Image of the West Buttress Route on Denali, 20,320'

7/16-17 Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue Workshop

The guides from this past weekend's Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue Workshop returned late last night from the Matanuska Glacier and are unpacking gear and debriefing today. This was a two-day introductory workshop that provides instruction on climbing techniques and safety systems necessary for safe glacier travel. The workshop covers knots, harnesses, cramponing, self-arrest positions, building protection and anchors, fixed-line ascension, and crevasse rescue. Students enjoyed practicing crevasse fall scenarios. There's one more GT/CR during this season, August 20-21.

Guide Dusty Eroh with Dorothy and Jess practicing placing protection.

Guide Dusty Eroh instructing Ryan on direction of pull.

Deb and Jess checking out the strength of their protection.

Deb, Paul, and Ryan practicing fixed-line ascension.

Bill hanging out in a crevasse, waiting to be hauled out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

AMS Gowler 6/27 Denali Team Update

Guide Rob Gowler called in today. He and the team have climbed down from high camp, and are currently at 11,000'. They are all well.

They will rest there for a while and they hope to arrive at Kahiltna base camp early tomorrow morning. If all goes as planned, they will be in Talkeetna tomorrow (Monday 7/18).

We look forward to seeing them and hearing their stories.

 - Caitlin

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fierce Storms Continue

I talked to Gowler this morning. Yesterday the group "went for a peek" to the top of Denali Pass, 18,000'. It was too windy in the morning, even though the view from Talkeetna looked calm and peaceful. The group got up at 6 am to get the stoves going, but waited until mid-morning when the winds died down. It doesn't take much wind, 25 mph, to be too much wind in the fight against frostbite. By the time they got to the Pass,  a lenticular had formed on the summit. By the time they got back to camp, its was stacked and enveloping the mountain. They didn't get much sleep last night and woke to a continuing storm this morning. Already over-due and home calling loudly, they made the tough decision to head back down. Its uncertain whether that will be possible today, but they are making preparations. Incredible effort shown from the members of this expedition. People assume its all about the summit, all 15 minutes of it. It's a powerful experience when you spend 3 weeks of your life in such a wild, physically and mentally challenging environment. Its a sporting event, that is so much more. And it is the gift that keeps on giving because its game on until you get to the landing strip.

Gowler 6/27

Rob Gowler called to let us know they are waiting at highcamp.  There is a storm if weather clears they will start to descend.  Weather has not been cooperative.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue 7/16

Instructors Dustin Eroh, Beth Cleary and Dustin English have preparations to  complete before meeting their students at the Matanuska Glacier.   There is always paperwork to review, gear and food to pack. 

 The gear is ready to pack in the van.  They are loading the van and plan to leave in the next 30 minutes.  Have fun.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Patience Grasshopper

"As long as it takes." said Rob Gowler from 17,200' when asked what the plan was.

Still Hangin' High

(lenticulars are thin, wispy clouds that mean high winds.)

A little trivia: Bradford Washburn, who pioneered the West Buttress Route in 1951, called lenticular clouds, "sonofabitchacus clouds."

blogger laura

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

D'Alessio 6/8 MTC6 Returns

The 6-day mountaineering course led by AMS Guide Nick D'Alessio and Intern John Sykes returned today from the Matanuska Glacier. Unable to fly to the Coffee Glacier (or any other!) for two days, they opted to drive to the Matanuska for a few days on-site after a few days of ground training at AMS HQ. Sid says, "I've never been filthier in my life."


Sid, hoisting his just-washed crampons.
Matt sorting his carabiners.

Gowler 6/22 Playing the Waiting Game

Too windy to attempt the summit. They'll try again tomorrow. Here's a link to the Mountain Forecast.

blogger laura

17K High camp as seen from an airplane (photo by Tom Falley, pilot and father of AMS guide, Leighan Falley)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holding tight at 17,200'

Gowler called in. They were making hash browns and bacon again. It's pretty nice waiting out storms when you can eat real food. The winds got up to 40 mph last night and were not too bad. The winds have died down now and its snowing lightly. They are feeling good about tomorrow being a good day. There's nothing you can do about changing the weather other than your attitude towards it. They all sounded happy and joking, and that's a sound of success.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gowler Update

Gowler texted,"mini storm at High Camp, chillin'" Which means they are STAYING AT HIGH CAMP TODAY and will to wait untill the weather improves to give it a shot. Everyone and everything is fine and now they have begun their waiting game. Patience is a virtue and eventually leads to success.

More Pictures of Vernovage and Wagner Teams

It is quiet here at HQ now that the team members have dispersed to hotel rooms around town and much needed showers.

Wagner post expedition team meeting (Forest is blocking Viki!!)
Here's a nice shot of a smiling Viki.
Vince, Dustin, Mark, Greg, Mark, Jean Ann, Rick post expedition

Lot 'o Gear!!

Pat, Christian and Steve discussing what they would have brought with them. Christian says, "no more peanut butter pretzels!"

Mark phones home.

Glacier Trek!

Al gets a gear check by guide Christian March. He's going on a one-day Glacier Trek. Al's son climbed completed a 6 Day Mountaineering Course with us last year and now Al wants to see a bit of the Alaska Range himself.

~blogger laura

Gear Check!

How's that harness fit?

Vernovage AMS/IMG 6/22 Expedition is Back in the Green Zone

Vince is all smiles taking those insulated pants off.
Here's some pics from around HQ today. The schedule is unpack, unpack, eat, shower, eat, drink and repeat.
~blogger laura

Mark says, "more coffee!"
Ann and Pat...watermelon and chips.

Foot care management.

Jean says, "Do you have to take a picture?" (yes)

Very happy guides Greg (aka crevasse man greg) and Dustin.

6/20 Wagner Team Back at 370 Feet, Vernovage 6/22 back soon!

After a trek down the glacier all last night, Wagner's 6/20 team made it to base camp out of the wild...

Here's some pics of the team and more to come. Vernovage 6/22 is on their way out as well.

~blogger laura

Game On!

Basecamp opened up and planes are flying. Forrest and Vernovage's teams should be out soon. We are starting to cut watermelons!


Groups are getting back to Basecamp having travelled all night. It's not flyable right now, but hopefully the fog will burn off later in the day.

Team Gowler poised and ready

Rob called in last night. It was snowing lightly and warm. He wasn't even wearing mittens! Today could be their day, and if not, they are well stocked with supplies and they are patient - two necessary elements for success.
standing by, Colby

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Until Next Time, Combat Wounded Veterans

The Combat Wounded Veterans Denali Challenge 2011 team left Talkeetna today to journey home from Anchorage. We were pleased and honored to have them around HQ the last couple of days, and are so very proud of their achievements on Denali. We look forward to seeing them again soon!

King Salmon for dinner!

Will gets a pedicure from Lisle at the farewell BBQ

Yeti relaxing int the back yard.

 JC waves goodbye

Justin and the guys had a great day salmon fishing yesterday - thanks for the salmon dinner Justin!

-AV & LW