Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Denali Expedition May 29, 2012

My home for the Last 10 years other than the Van.
A summit shot from the top of rainier on may 27th Summit Climb with RMI  .
Denali the High One!
 This made for my 14th expedition to Denali. The trip was run through Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. with a super crew of guides Erick Frank and young gun Logan Randolph. The group was a wonderful group of gentlemen from throughout the US and two kind Canadians from Quebec and New Brunswick.
The trips on Denali always starts well before the go date, compiling a mountain of gear, goose feathers, and lunch food for 20 days, one hundred pounds in the duffels,  plus a carry on with twenty-five pounds. Not sure how I'll get it up but here we go.  I departed on a midday flight to AK, landing in Anchorage, meeting the guide boys and enjoying a pizza. We meet the crew around 4 and pack the 11man Team in a Denali overland shuttle and depart North toward Wasilla for a last minuet food shop before arriving in the quant drinking village of Talkeetna. A day of packing, prepping, and rigging for our flight from K2 Avation Otter Ski Plane. The Timing and weather were on for us we got our park briefing and departed with our kit on time and arrive to the glaciers of Denali by 10:30 am on the 31st of May. The trip is Now up to us and our mountain skills; to safely climb and descend in good style.

Part of the Denali 12' Crew 

As the snow settled from  the prop wash of or departing air craft we organized to head out in the afternoon as the temp were cool and the glacier still firm and supportive. Our pack up and departure from base camp were flawless. The only thing not working was the wight of close to 110lbs each dragging us up to 7,800ft. Five hours of walking and two hours of camp set up and we were already functioning as a cohesive team.

Living in Luxury 7,800

Nice view from our porch at 11camp
 The fallowing days we took carry to ten thousand feet had a great recovery day and then moved our camp to eleven thousand camp and set up for another round of carry, rest, move. The seventh day of our trip we moved to 14 camp and set up a deluxe camp, kitchen, and restroom as a handful of days would be used acclimatizing and prepping high camp and resting for our summit push. A number of snow filled days at 14 camp started to get us antsy to climb higher and after 7 nights spent in 14 camp we got our break in the weather and moved to hight camp having the benefit of brent's group leaving some equipment and tent for us which lightened our load and the work once we arrived at camp.

Eric Frank showing that puppy how we dance. My that is a nice top hat you have.

The crew actively resting on a jane to the edge of the world in Genet Basin 20 min from 14 camp.

Our dig out at 14 with Big Denali in the mist 
 The next morning we had moderate winds and chilly temps but beautiful blue skies. The crew was in great shape summit day morning the 16th day of the trip. We started our summit clim at 9:45am breaking trail up to Denali pass. The wind was pesky throughout the day and temp remained near -20. We all made extra effort to keep our faces and eye wear in functioning order. We had just a wonderful day topping north america out at 5:15 pm on june 15th. After 35min enjoying and snaping photos on the summit we descended in evening light still battling with the wind and the nip in the air. The decent of denali pass provide light wind and warm solar charge for out final hour of climbing back to high camp.
Fast forward I had a lot on my mind and now were at the Summit Ridge on a blue bird day.

Summit #9 Denali

Our bad boys. The 2012 crew

My Man Larry and I holding the vintage cigar from Ben Alverez. Cheers From Us!

Oh what a cutie little boy Its Logan Randolph On his first trip to the top of NA Super strong work little brother!

Down the pig hill we go with the proud North summit watching us. 

The crown of North America visited and a safe decent ahead.
  We congratulated each other in camp 11hr after departing all happy and un scathed. We spoke of memories from the day while the guides watched water melt and food cook it self. We were content for the day and drifted of to our bags.
Down the buttress from high camp 

The climb down from high camp got under way after 3 hr effort to excavate the tents and button up the gear. We enjoyed light wind and clear skies on the most picturesque part of the west buttress climb making good time we descended to 14 camp  and are greeted to Jakes's camp which provide a hot snack, water, and our cache dug out and on the surface. Praises JB. Sorting our equipment for the cache we split the group equipment and descend around windy corner to 11k camp just in time for heavy snow to start falling and the wind to rage for the better part of the next 18hrs keeping us in a holding pattern until a break in the afternoon saw us packing for the final five hour stretch to base camp.

Snow storm layover at 11camp on the decent allowed us to enjoy some pancakes, just like my grandpa made them.

Back to the other world....
 Upon our arrival to base camp the guide dug up the cache and retrieved the salty snacks and Beers we left upon our arrival tot the glacier. We celebrated and had a late dinner sitting in the snow. As we chatted the reality of what we accomplished started to set in knowing we were all done but the flying. The best part is always flying out to the shades of green and the contrast that the mountains gray and white don't express.
The experiences in the Alaska Range never get old and Ill be back again next spring. 

In Talkeetna we unpack and dry the kit before heading for a pizza fest for lunch and then some down time to shower contact the family and eat more. The Crew reunited for a final celebration dinner at Denali Brewing Co fallowed by a unforgettable trip to the river in talkeetna for a sunset view of Denali and Certificate presentation. Most importantly we went to the river to reflect, tell stories of our experience, and enjoy each others friendship new and old.

We just could not part each other until after the team drove back to anchorage airport said our final good buys. I would like to thank to each individual on this expedition in was a true pleasure climbing with you all. Hope we can all climb again soon.

Back to Green!