Tuesday, May 30, 2017

AMS Denali West Buttress, 5/26 and 5/28- LAUNCH!

AMS West Buttress team led by Wes Bunch, Jake Kayes, and Lexie Hunsaker were relieved to get on a glacier plane flight into Basecamp this morning at approximately 9 am. They kept in good spirits around the headquarters practicing skills and checking out the local sights such as the Historical Society and river trails.

...and they are off! 

AMS guide Wes teaching classes while waiting for weather to break


AMS compound pre-flight, practicing roped travel.

AMS team led by Larry Holmgren and Chris Welch departed this afternoon also for the Kahiltna Glacier to begin their climb. They have a great team with a couple of returners ready to give Denali their all!
AMS 5/28 team: Tom, guide Larry, Karl, David, Clint, Steve, guide Chris

AMS guide Chris Welch ready to rock and roll 

Packing up the AMS van with freezer food 



Monday, May 29, 2017

All Team update - West Buttress and Denali Prep

Update From Our Teams in the Field

Denali West Buttress 5/11-6/01 led by AMS lead guide Elliot Gaddy  are still hanging tight and waiting out weather at 14,200'.  They hope to start descending tomorrow.

Denali West Buttress 5/14-6/04 (Nate Opp) is also still waiting out weather at 14,200'.  They've been taking short day hikes to help with acclimatization while they wait for good conditions to move up.

Denali West Buttress 5/18-6/8 led by AMS guide Noah Ronczkowski said that they are in high spirits and working on they're digging skills at 11,200' camp.  It sounds like it's quite blustery and snowy all over the mountain. They are staying put at this time.
The AMS Denali Prep Course is safe and sound at Basecamp area at 7,200'.  They have got ten days of learning ahead of them.  They are specifically focusing on skills that will enable them to climb to the top of North America such as crevasse rescue, winter camping, roped travel, etc. They are in good hands with John and get to see the hustle and bustle of climbers going up the West Buttress.  The conditions they will experience out there and the skills they learn will give them a huge advantage when they come back to climb in Alaska again. 
The AMS Headquarters is busy too.  We've got two Denali trips in the throes of packing.  Food, gear, paperwork, etc.  It's a good day to meet old friends, meet new friends and to plan ahead. Remember: PPPPPP
Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.  That's what we're all about!
AMS photo of Basecamp

Saturday, May 27, 2017

AMS Denali Prep, 5/26 Sykes


We like to see gumption to get into the mountains no matter what age! 
AMS Denali Prep Course let by Instructors John Sykes and Dylan Miller flew into Kahiltna Base Camp today.  Due to a weather they had a one day delay.

The first day of the course was very busy.  Gear checks, lunch packing, John and Dylan taught some classes.

They were happy to head to the airport.



Instuctor John Sykes reviews knots


Instructor Dylan Miller demonstrates fixed line ascension
Instructors John Sykes, Dylan Miller, Pete, Cathy, Iva,
Arron and Benjamin

Friday, May 26, 2017

Update From Our Teams in the Field

Denali West Buttress 5/11-6/01 led by AMS lead guide Elliot Gaddy took a tour up to the fixed lines yesterday and are resting and waiting out weather at 14,200'.

Denali West Buttress 5/14-6/04 (Nate Opp) is also still waiting out weather at 14,200'.  They've been taking short day hikes to help with acclimatization while they wait for good conditions to move up.

Denali West Buttress 5/18-6/8 led by AMS guide Noah Ronczkowski said that they are in high spirits and working on they're digging skills at 11,200' camp.  It sounds like it's quite blustery and snowy all over the mountain.

Denali West Buttress 5/23-6/13 led by Colby Coombs managed to sneak through the clouds and onto the glacier today. They and are resting and acclimatizing at basecamp.  Having guided with Colby before I am very familiar with his tactics.  I suspect they are acclimatizing by eating as many quesadillas as possible right now.  It's a tactic that has been proven effective countless times by Colby himself.

The AMS Denali Prep Course is loading the van right now to head to the airport.  They have got ten days of learning ahead of them.  They are specifically focusing on skill that will enable them to climb to the top of North America.  The conditions they will experience out there and the skills they learn will give them a huge advantage when they come back to climb in Alaska again.

The AMS Headquarters is busy too.  We've got two Denali trips in the throes of packing.  Food, gear, paperwork, etc.  It's a good day to meet old friends, meet new friends and to plan ahead. Remember: PPPPPP
Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.  That's what we're all about!

Blustery conditions in the Alaska Range

AMS guide Chris Welch packing food for his upcoming Denali expedition

AMS Denali West Buttress, 5/23 Coombs

AMS Custom Denali Expedition led by AMS Director Colby Coombs, Nate Emerson, Chelsea Bomba, Nadav Oakes, Dave Wade just arrived at basecamp. They fell victim to the Denali hang and flew this morning,  after 2 days of waiting they were ready.

The temperature at basecamp was -5 when they arrived. They are well prepared for the cold!

Ready to fly
AMS Guides, Nadav Oakes, Chelsea Bomba, Nate Emerson
Colby Coombs, Dave Wade

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Custom Mountaineering Course, Holmgren 5/21 Returns

It is snowing in the range and not many teams are getting in today.  AMS Instructor Larry Holmgren, students Dan and John were able to return to Talkeetna today.

Dan and John had a great time!  The team was in base camp.  The learned lots of climbing skills and experienced 2 feet of new snow.  They learned how to stamp a runway this morning.

They were quick to unload the the truck, sort and hang the gear.

John sorting

Dan organizing
Runway Packing

AMS Custom Backpacking 5/25, Patch

AMS Guide Scott Patch, Gerard and Kensho departed for a fun 4 day Backpacking trip.  They were quick to run through the gear check and pack trail lunches.  They enjoyed the drive to the trailhead and the views.  The team will be traveling on Kesugi Ridge in Denali State Park.

Kesugi Ridge is 29.2 miles and offers outstanding views and unique geological features.  They are hoping to see as much wildlife as possible.

AMS Guide Scott Patch, Gerard and Kensho

Hikers on the ridge last season

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

AMS Denali West Buttress 5/18, Ronczkowski

Denali West Buttress 5/18-6/8 led by AMS guide Noah Ronczkowski  have arrived to 11,200' camp and are doing well. It is snowing currently on the mountain so they will hang tight in camp until the weather is better. Resting, hydrating, and camp chores will keep everyone busy. 

AMS photo by Tom Torkelson, view from 11,200' camp



Hamill and Girard Denali Team- RETURN to Talkeetna!


AMS 5/4-5/25 and AMS 5/7-5/28  with guides Kai Girard and Mike Hamill. The teams have arrived back to town and everyone is glad to get a shower and be back to fresh smelling summer time. They saw temperatures down to -38 at 14,200' camp. 
Nice work everyone! 

Lots of gear to unpack, but many hands make quick work of it

AMS guide Kai and team unloading the van

AMS guide Lexi 

AMS guide Mike Hamill and team re-organizing gear

Snow still on the bags and snowshoes, everyone quickly gets their gear out to dry during the break in weather

Monday, May 22, 2017

Team Update

AMS 5/4-5/25 and AMS 5/7-5/28 are healthy, safe and back at Kahiltna basecamp.  AMS guides Kai Girard and Mike Hamill came down from 14,200' yesterday due to weather and time constraints.  They should be back in the next couple of days, enjoying the mosquitos and burgers here in Talkeetna.  Can't wait to hear the stories from their trips!
The impressive North Buttress of Hunter from Kahiltna basecamp

AMS Denali updated- 5/14 Nate Opp

Denali West Buttress 5/14-6/04 (Nate Opp) checked in May 21st at 7:50pm.  They say "all is good" up there on the mountain.  They have reached 14,200' and are hunkered in for some snow. Now is the time to dive into that good book you never had time to read and manage camp: walls, etc. Everyone is doing well.



AMS kitchen set up, it is key to keep hydrated and well fed during the climb

AMS previous camp set up, with a Raven feather. They are smart birds that will easily make it up to 14 camp and dig up poorly buried food caches

Sunday, May 21, 2017

AMS Denali Update: Elliot Gaddy 5/11

Denali West Buttress 5/11-6/01 led by Elliot Gaddy  have arrived to 14,200'. They were planning on doing  some classes on fixed line ascension today in addition to prepping camp for a forecasted low pressure system coming into the area from the south west. Everyone is doing great and they are all looking forward to the warmer temps that the low pressure system will bring.  


AMS photo by T. Torkelson from 14k camp

AMS custom mountaineering course- 5/21, Holmgren


AMS custom mountaineering course led by Larry Holmgren flew into the Kahiltna today for six days to learn more about glacier travel and prepare for future Denali trip. These guys are good friends from way back and are looking forward to this experience together. 

AMS review of knots

AMS team photo before flying: Dan Lien, Larry Holmgren, John Gay

AMS mountaineering courses RETURN! Advanced and 6-day

AMS 6 day mountaineering course unpacking
Lots happening here at AMS headquarters. AMS advanced course led by John Sykes got picked up in the Ruth Gorge and Six day mountaineering course led by Wes Bunch from the Pika, have returned all in good spirits from an awesome time in the Alaska Range. Drying gear, eating watermelon and other goodies, re-connecting to the internet all commenced. Really fun and competent group that was fun to meet. 

One student on the Advanced course that had read about the Ruth Gorge and all of the great history of climbing that has occurred there amongst the rock walls that rise taller than Yosemite, was especially grateful to finally visit that special place. 

Coffee fueling everyone as Denali preparations and de-issuing gear is happening

Back to the green



AMS guide John Sykes taking advantage of garage space as the clouds move in

AMS operations Josh Hoeschen working the heavy duty sewing machine keeping gear in tip top shape

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Update From Our Teams in the Field

Denali West Buttress 5/4-5/25 led by AMS guide Kai Girard checked in this morning from 17,200'.  His report was that it was too windy up high to make a summit attempt and the temperature was -35˚F.  Sounds like a good day to stay in the sleeping bag!

Denali West Buttress 5/7-5/28 led by long-time AMS guide Mike Hamill checked in last night from 14,200'. They are hanging tight right now and watching the weather. Sounds like it is quite cold up there at the moment

Denali West Buttress 5/11-6/01 led by Elliot Gaddy cached around the corner yesterday.  They are looking good for a move to 14,200'.

Denali West Buttress 5/14-6/04 (Nate Opp) checked in moments ago.  They say "all is good" up there on the mountain.  They are at 11,200' and are acclimatizing by working high, sleeping low and consuming as much butter, bacon and cheese as possible.

Denali West Buttress 5/18-6/8 led by AMS guide Noah Ronczkowski said that they had great (and cold) travel conditions to 7,800' today.  They got into 7,800' around 11:00am so they are making excellent time.

Both the AMS 6 day Mountaineering Course and the AMS Advanced Mountaineering Course are prepared to fly back to Talkeetna tomorrow.  If the weather cooperates they should be back in the land of mosquitoes and green tomorrow afternoon.

AMS Guide Larry Holmgren is busy packing for a Custom 6 Day Mountaineering Course.  He'll be flying into the Alaska Range tomorrow
Looking up toward the fixed lines on Denali from 14,200'

Students using the skills they have learned in some breezy conditions

Friday, May 19, 2017

AMS All Team Update

Things are happening and here's and update:

All teams are doing well!

May 4 Denali, West Buttress Team led by Kai Girard is moving to high camp 17,200' today. This is a favorite day with awesome views and terrain. Tomorrow they may rest and be ready for a summit attempt as soon as Sunday.

May 7 Denali, West Buttress Team led by Michael Hamill are resting a 14,200' camp today. This is a well deserved rest and acclimatization day for this team.

May 10 Advanced Mountaineering Course led by John Sykes is cranking out the fun and learning in the Ruth Glacier area, this team of four climbers are exploring and climbing, today they were headed over to ice climb near the Moose's Tooth.

May 11 Denali, West Buttress Team led by Elliot Gaddy is camped at 11,200' camp, today they carried to Windy Corner 13,100' and tomorrow they plan to move to 14,200'.

May 14 Denali, West Buttress Team led by Nate Opp moved to 11,200' camp yesterday, they may carry to Windy Corner tomorrow.

May 16 Six Day Mountaineering Course led by Wes Bunch are having a great time and moved camp today.

May 18 Denali, West Buttress Team led by  Noah Ronczowski flew in to basecamp on schedule today. This is a super nice team, we enjoyed getting to know them for he past couple of days.


Previous AMS moving to high camp.

14,200' camp with the top of Mt. Hunter

Previous AMS team setting up camp at 14,200'

A good day at 11,200' camp from an 2011 AMS team!

AMS setting up tents at Basecamp 7,200' on the North East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. Photo: Amanda Erickson

AMS Denali West Buttress 5/18, Ronczkowski

AMS Guides Noah Ronczkowski, Curtis Green and Team are flying to basecamp to begin their climb.

They had a busy day beginning with a briefing at National Park Service.  Did some last minute shopping at the AMS Mountain Shop.  They spent most of their day reviewing Denali Skills, organizing and packing gear.  The team took pizza out to camp with  for dinner tonight.

We look forward to hearing from them!

Noah demonstrating fixed line


Guide Curtis Green, Seth, Bill, Liz, Matt, Maury, Guide Noah Ronczkowksi
They didn't want to forget the pizza!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Expedition Availability

If you have been following our blog you know there are 4 AMS teams moving up the DenaliWest Buttress Route.  They are all doing great!  We still have some spaces available, so come join us.


$8,300, 6 climbers and 2-3 guides, 22 days

June 4 - June 25      1 space available
June 8 - June 29      1 space available
June 11 - July 2       FULL
June 15 - July 6 .     FULL
June 18 - July 9      1 space available
June 22 - July 13    6 spaces available
June 25 - July 16    4 spaces available

AMS Guide Scott Patch sent real time photo from 14,200

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Update From Our Teams in the Field

AMS guide Elliot Gaddy just checked in moments ago from 11'200 camp on Denali.  The Denali West Buttress team is in camp and all is good.  They back carried today and retrieved their cache from 10,500'.  Back carrying to 10,500' from 11,200' is a shorter day but it does wonders for acclimatization.

Both Mike Hamill (AMS 5/7-5/28) and Kai Girard (AMS 5/4-5/25) are at 14,200 camp Kai's team has made a carry to the 16,200' ridge and a poised for the move to high camp.  They are waiting for the right weather to ensure their summit success.  

AMS 5/14-6/4 with Nate Opp checked in from 7,800' camp yesterday night.  Nate Opp AKA The Operator and Special Opps is guiding with Mike Gardner.  Mike and AMS Guide Jimmy Voorhis put up an impressive new line on the Father and Sons wall last year at this time of year.  The Father and Sons Wall is prominent from the top of Motorcycle hill (just above 11,200' camp).  Check out some more info about their climb here: 
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201214067/Denali-Fathers-and-Sons-Wall-Mothers-Day-Variation
Nate and Gardner's team members are going to hear some great stories from an impressive first ascent as they move up the mountain.

Our team locations on Denali
The AMS Advanced Mountaineering Course with John Sykes got a cache of gear flown out yesterday and are planning on traveling down the Ruth to Glacier One.  

The AMS 5/16-5/21 6 Day Mountaineering Course had a huge day of classes yesterday.  They flew onto the Pika glacier at 5:00pm and before bed went through fixed line ascension, campsite selection, probing safe zones, tent setup, stoves and cooking, bombproofing camp and sleeping warm and dry.  The first day on a mountaineering course is a huge brain-dump of skills and knowledge but, don't worry, they've got five days ahead of them to practice those skills and to learn much, much more.
Special Opp cooking up a storm in a typical (extremely nice and well planned out) AMS kitchen setup.  Note the apron; it's the little things that make the trip great