Tuesday, July 31, 2012

AMS Guides In Style at the Matanuska Glacier

This time of year we run courses for youth at the Matanuska Glacier; road accessible with a campground right at the toe of the ice. AMS guides, Alex Stroud and Beth Cleary brought this Mountain Hardware Stronghold tent down for some luxuriously roomy camping.
Nice Digs at the Mat Glacier Campground.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sean Fallon Finishes his Internship at AMS

We said goodbye to one our Interns last week. Alaska Pacific University student, Sean Lucky Fallon left to enjoy some summer visiting family and friends before heading back to school. We enjoyed having him here this summer to dig holes, rake leaves, set up tents....and he also got to go on some raft trips, courses and a Denali Climb. We hope to see him back here again.

Tent time on Denali with Rob Gowler

Above 14K camp digging pits for snow stability info

Sean guided the Combat Wounded Vets on a packrafting trip.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

AMS Equstrian Clinic

What can we say, we are branching out to all good things that are active and fun... AMS ran our first ever Three Day Equestrian Clinic this week!  This custom clinic was over the top fun for eight child and adult participants, who came to the AMS barn with their own horses and ponies.

Many thanks to AMS Instructor Betsy Young who also leads our Wilderness Courses, Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue Workshops and Glacier Treks for teaching this successful clinic.  We covered grooming, basic riding positions and safety, ground school, horse movement mechanics, games on horseback, balanced walk-trot-canter positions, and much more.

Ride with a ball and drop it in the bucket skills game.

Riding with a rope (or streamer) between rider and partner skills game.
Short movie of a participant and her pony negotiating obstacles.

Hoeschen 12 Day Mounatineering

Instructor Josh Hoeschen checked in from the Pika Glacier with the 12 Day Mountaineering Course.   They are having a spectacular time,  they are learning and climbing a lot, making the most of their time and the good weather.  Today they plan to do some multi pitch rock climbing, from here at the AMS HQ, it looks like the perfect day!

AMS students climbing in the Alaska Ranges' Pika Glacier (aka Little Switzerland)

Custom Ski Trip Returns

Instructor Colby Coombs, Tom and Kyle returned from their custom Ski trip in the Ruth Glacier yesterday.  They had a great time!  Here are some photos of the Ruth Glacier from some previous AMS trips.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sarah Bremer's Photos from 6 Day Mountaineering Course

I thought I would share some photos taken by one our students, Sarah Bremer, on our July 6-Day Mountaineering Course. Sarah took our Denali Photography Workshop in 2010 and came back this summer for a mountaineering course. They went to the Coffee Glacier for six days; weather was certainly a challenge but the images by Sarah are great!
Location, location, location!

The Outhouse.

Crevasse Rescue class

Dinner by guide, Travis McAlpine

Sarah's turn in the kitchen (photo by Chris Throop)

Snowy cutlery.

Home Sweet Home; tents and kitchen Posh

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Custom Ski Trip

AMS Instructor Colby Coombs, Kyle and Tom are packed up and ready!  They are headed for the air taxi where they will flying to the Ruth Glacier within Denali National Park and Preserve for a custom ski trip. They plan to tour the glacier and make some turns in the Alaska Range's freshly fallen snow.  They are going to spend four awesome days in a absolutely stunning place.
Kyle and Tom at the AMS HQ

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another New Structure at AMS

The last Denali Expedition finished earlier in the week and this enabled us to get a big project underway at AMS HQ. Colby bought a weatherport (Craigslist) to centralize the storing of all of the gear! The job of pulling the tarp over the frame was made easier with lots of people, some rope and ascenders.
Nice Dance Floor!!

Rob the wrench man.


Caitlin, Colby, Beth, Josh, Alex, Sean and Laura....part of the pulling crew.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Library Kids Visit AMS

The kids at Talkeetna Library's summer reading program took a field trip to AMS today. It was an appropriate stop since their theme for the summer is, "Dream Big, Read." Colby Coombs showed them how to tie knots and rope up for a walk which included a stop in the AMS food packing room where the kids were given fruit snacks.
Colby explains how to make an overhand knot to future mountaineers.

Hoeschen 12 Day Mountaneering Course

Instructor Josh Hoeschen and students flew to the Pika Glacier yesterday for a 12 day Mountaineering Course.  Stacey and Gary came prepared and ready for the adventure of an Alaska Range Mountaineering Course; and with a group size of three there is no doubt that they will get a lot done. 

They will be learning and practicing snow camping, rock and snow climbing, glacier travel and crevasse resuce skills and more.  They are hope to hike out of the Pika Glacier and to a roadhead in the Petershills to complete their course.  When this team departed Talkeetna for the mountains, they were already well oiled machine! 

Stacey, Instructor Josh Hoeschen and Gary

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First Descents Mountaineering Course Returns!

Team First Descents with Instructors Larry Holmgren, Josh Murphey and Erin Pollock returned from the Alaska Range's Coffee Glacier today. 

This group had a great time and are happy with the snow camping, climbing and glacier travel skills they learned.   They loved the un-paralled beauty of the mountains. 

They are now busy sorting gear,  having a snack and completing evaluation forms.  The entire team is loving the beautiful warm weather we are enjoying today!

We in the office and the instructor team have had a super time working with this group!

Peta and Christine sort gear

Andy relaxing, reflecting

Monday, July 16, 2012

June 27 Gowler Returns!

The team just arrived back at AMS.  After 12 days at 14,200 camp, they are happy to be back in Talkeetna and enjoying watermelon and orange juice.  They were able to do a carry up to the 16,400 foot ridge but never had the weather to make the move to the 17,000 foot camp. A lot of what it takes to climb Denali is patience and a little luck. Now they are sorting their gear and making their dinner plans for a farewell team dinner.

Guide Rob Gowler, Lisle, Laura, Guide Sean Fallon, Charles, Mike Sue, Barry and Guide Noak Ronczkowski

June 27- Gowler Denali Update

I spoke briefly with AMS Guide Rob Gowler a few hours ago.

The weather and snow conditions have not improved for upward climbing so, they are making thier way down the mountain. Yesterday they left 14,200' and made their way to the 11,000' camp, where they camped due to some stormy weather.

Their plan is to hike during the night and be at base camp in the morning.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate with them and the planes will be able to bring them back to Talkeetna as soon as this morning!

It will be great to see all of them and hear their amazing climbing and snow storm stories.  It sure sounds as if this team has experienced some unusually prolific and constant snow.   I cant wait to hear the stories straight from them.

I wonder if they built a snow cave, I'd bet they did.

Here's a NPS image of the West Buttress Route, they have covered a lot of ground.

D'Alessio 6 Day Mounatineering Course

Instructors Nick D'Alessio, Travis McApline and the July Six Day Mountaineering Course students returned from the North Fork of the Coffee Glacier Saturday night.   They had a short time to absorb all the mountaineering skills taught; moving and building camps, roped glacier travel, crevasse rescue,  and snow climbing skills, to name a few of the big ones!

It was great to see their smiling faces today, they all had a super time.

Previous AMS Mountaineering Course crevasse rescue practice

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Denali Park Hikers return!

AMS Guide Dusty Eroh and Richard returned from a custom wilderness hike this afternoon.  They had an awesome time; they hiked within the south side of Denali National Park to the toe of Granite Glacier and spent the night on the summit of a ridge.  The views were amazing,  they saw black bears and a grizzly.

We are so glad to have worked with Richard on this custom hike with glaciers, big mountain views, peak ascents, tundra and wildlife sightings - that sounds like The Big Five of Alaska Wilderness Backpacking to me!

Cheers,  Caitlin

Friday, July 13, 2012

IMG/AMS Denali Team return to Talkeetna

The 2012 IMG/AMS Denali Expedition led by Greg Vernovage has safely descended from 14,200' and has returned to Talkeetna! WELCOME BACK!

It is great to see you all and congratulations on your expedition.  The carry to 16,400' took a great deal of strength, perseverance and your training paid off.  You demonstrated a good deal of patience waiting out the weather and living in the many feet of snow that accumulated at the 14,200' camp.

Hopefully we will have some photos of their amazing big mountain weather and we can post some current photos tomorrow!

June 27 team camping at snowy 14,200'

AMS Guide Rob Gowler called in from 14,200 camp today.  They still have time and are waiting for conditions and weather to improve, the weather continues to be snowing and blowing up up there. 

They are digging, eating, chatting and they must be telling some funny jokes by now... I am sure they are spending quite a bit of time maintaining their camp area and are keeping it ship-shape.  They are getting some invaluable big mountain snow camping skills right now, for sure.   Everyone is good spirits and happy, they say hello to family and friends back at home. 

Below are some photos of what part of the day is like while waiting out stormy weather, this is not the 2012 AMS June 27 Expedition, it a past AMS expedition with similar weather. 

They are hanging out in the snow kitchen a lot!

First Descents Custom Mountaineering Course

AMS Instructors Larry Holgren, Josh Murphey and Erin Pollock are excited to meet their First Descents students yesterday!  AMS is honored to be working with this wonderful organization that works with young adult cancer survivors to empower themselves through outdoor adventures.

They are on a custom 6 day Mountaineering Course in the Alaska Range.  This is a strong, organized and very fun loving group!  They completed their gear check, packed their field ration lunches quickly, enjoyed a relaxed tasty lunch at the AMS HQ before heading off to the National Park Service to register.

The group was all smiles as they left for the airport. We know this team is to having a blast up on the Coffee Glacier.

Instructors Josh Murphey, Larry Holgren with AMS Kid-O Lisle and dog Rosie, Christina, Tony, Andy, Instructor Erin Pollack, Owen, Jackie, Peta,Dave and Lisa

Thursday, July 12, 2012

D'Alessio 6 Day Mountaineering Course

Instructor Nick D'Alessio phoned in from the North Fork of the Coffee Glacier.  The weather has been good with a little snow.  Today they moved camp.  Tomorrow they plan to have a summit day,  with a back up plan of ice climbing.  They are having a great time!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Welcome Back June 25 Expedition - Mike Janes

AMS Guides Mike Janes, Beth Cleary and the AMS June 25 team returned to Talkeetna today!  They got a good workout on their descent with trailbreaking through fresh snow.  This teams seems happy with all of the work they did on Denali.  They were able get to 16,400' and back down again, which represents a great deal of hard work, perserverence and mental fortitude. Well done team and congratualtions on all of your efforts.

The watermelon that we put out for them is a big hit.  First their boots come off and then they reach for the fruit.  They were pleased with the warm temperature and the flowers in Tlakeetna. As always, a shower and soft bed are in the plans for tonight.

Guide Beth Cleary, Sophie, Tina, Ryan, Guide Mike Janes, Tyler, Venediktov and Eric

Teams led by Greg Vernovage and Rob Gowler remain at 14,200' in hopes that the snow pack will settle so they can make their way to high camp.  There is a lot of settling that needs to occur, and we are hoping for the sun to heat up the snow so the slopes can solidify.  We are all rooting for you!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hoeschen Update

Guide Josh Hoeschen called to check in from the Pika.  His team is having a great time.  Yesterday they took a tour of the Glacier.  Today they plan to climb and are looking forward to a really fun day!

Pika Camp

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quick AMS Denali Teams Update

The AMS Denali teams led by Rob Gowler, Mike Janes and Greg Vernovage remain at 14,200' to allow the fresh snow time to solidify.  It was a very nice sunny day up there with light winds, which will be good for the setttling.

When the snowpack allows, they are poised and ready to move up to high camp.

They are all well and they said to say "hello to everybody down there for us!"

Custom Climb, Hikes and a 6 Day Mountaineering Course

Today has been a busy and fun day at AMS!

Guide Josh Hoeschen flew to the Pika Glacier with Carlo and Rudy for a fun technical climbing course.  The group plans to do both rock and snow climbing.  They plan to have a few peak ascents and practice glacier travel and crevasse rescue.

Guide Dusty Eroh flew to Dutch Hills/Bear Creek area to lead a Wilderness Hike.  He was looking forward to leading Richard into the scenic alpine environment.  The route will take  advantage of some excellent vantage points for seeing wildlife with superb views of the Alaska Range.

Guide Dusty Eroh and Richard
Our Six day Mountaineering Course spent the day preparing for their adventure.  The team had a morning of gear checking and lunch packing followed by lunch,  trip to National Park Service, and practicing fixed line ascension before heading off to the airport. 

They flew off the North Fork of the Coffee Glacier.  Instructors  Nick D'Alessio and Travis McAlpine were ready to share their knowledge.  The team jumped for joy before leaving for the airport.

Guides Travis McAlpine, Nick D'Alessio, Kasper, Chris, Sarah, Kyle & Lori

Sunday, July 8, 2012

AMS Teams At 14,200' With Snow

AMS Guide Mike Janes just phoned in.

He and the AMS teams led by Rob Gowler and Greg Vernovage have 3 to 4 foot drifts of snow in camp, so they are staying at 14,200' for now.  This news means it was snowy and blowy up there for them in the past 24 hours.  They all are doing well and, among other things, are honing their shoveling skills.  They are shoveling, eating, drinking, shoveling, chatting, reading, eating and shoveling again.

Believe it or not, it does take a bit of practice to shovel out from around the tents.  The tents are made to withstand high winds, snow and rain but they are vulnerable to the sharp edges of shovels.  So, it takes some technique using both the shovel and mittens to sweep snow away to clear out your walled in tent area.  A solid tent is critical out there, so it is worth doing it right the first time.

Below are some photos of our climbers building walls with snow blocks at 14,200'. This is light snow with winds.  Our crews already have their walls, though they are out working away like these climbers. If you ask me it's all fun!

Friday, July 6, 2012

AMS Denali Teams: Up The Fixed Lines

I just spoke with AMS guide Rob Gowler at 14,200'. 

Today the AMS Denali teams led by Rob, Mike Janes and Greg Vernovage climbed up the fixed lines to 16,400' with extra food, fuel and gear that they will need at high camp and for summit day.

They cached these items in a deep snow hole and will pick it up again in a few days.  If the cache hole isnt deep enough some very smart and well acclimatized ravens will get their food -it's true!

Everyone is doing well.

Rob's expedition has a plan is to take rest day tomorrow and weather permitting move to high camp on Sunday. He is pretty sure the others teams are on the same page.

Here are some photos of the terrain they covered today.

Base of the fixed lines, in snowy conditions.
Travel up the lower part of the fixed lines
Nearing the top of the fixed lines

Top of the fixed lines brings climbers onto the West Buttress proper ( aka the 16 Ridge) @ 16,200'

Digging a deep hole in the snow for the cache at 16,300',  it is an exceptionally nice day in this photo!

AMS climbers returning to 14,200' camp after their carry up the fixed lines.