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Expedition Dispatches From Around The Globe!

Posts for every team can be found under the drop-down menus at the right of this page.  We have organized our expeditions into Denali, International and Mount Everest categories, with further organization by their Team Meeting Date.  We try to post from each team on each day, but this is not always possible, due to communication challenges in mountainous regions, so keep in mind that “No News Is Good News!”

Click on the audio dispatch icons to hear phone calls from our climbers and guides, so that you can better enjoy the experience through their words, not ours.  Click on a post’s title to open it in its own window to leave a comment for your favorite climber.  Above all, have fun and dream big!

June 26th Team—Final Dispatch from Guide Jacob Schmitz

By: Mountain Trip

Hello everyone and thank you for following our expedition.
This was a special trip as everyone knew each other and the guys from Dallas Fort worth were raising money for Sons of the Flag, an American Burn Association program.
It was good to climb with such a strong, focused, motivated team. When weather delayed our flight onto the glacier, the team was undeterred, and we took advantage of this time in town to review crevasse skills, rope management and rigging packs and sleds. Once on the glacier, the teamwork was solid and everyday team members motivated each other to get the job done.
Because of the strength of the team, we were able to move up the mountain through tough conditions and stay on schedule.  At High Camp the conditions turned against us and quickly breeched the safety margin; high avalanche hazard above camp was multiplied as high winds and snow continued.
After five nights at High Camp and a forecast of more snow, we decided that we did not want to define our Alaska experience to be sitting in a tent counting squares in the fabric, or reading the labels of half eaten energy bars.  We pulled the plug and made the long hike down to Base Camp, stoping at 14,200 Camp to spend the night, 11,000 Camp for hot pastrami sandwiches and then enjoying the amazing twilight view of the Alaska range from the Kahiltna Glacier.
This was a classic Mountain Trip expedition; Safe and fun with new learning and teaching everyday.
I am really looking forward to climbing with this group again, next time to the SUMMIT!

Take care everyone, it’s a small world.
Jacob Schmitz

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 23rd Team – Final Trip Dispatch From Caitlin

By: Mountain Trip

What a trip! It started rough with heinous trail breaking in thigh deep snow with heavy sleds tipping over every 10 minutes. But we put in our dues and got a week of warm sunny high pressure that allowed us to move to 14k and then put a cache in at the base of Washburn’s thumb, as well as plenty of tanning time.

The move to 17k was followed by horrendous weather that had us pinned down in our tents by high winds and blowing snow for five days. Unfortunately, we did not get a summit window but did get the pleasure of again breaking trail, this time down the mountain!

Thank you to all the climbers for being so hilarious and having the best attitudes throughout the climb. I have never seen a group of strangers come together and work as a team like this crew did. There were many outrageous moments that I will never forget and I hope to have the privilege of climbing with you all again. So fun and so tan!

-Caitlin Hague, Girdwood, AK

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team | Tagged | 1 Comment

Everyone is back in Talkeetna!

By: Mountain Trip

The weather cleared after a snowy morning at the Kahiltna Glacier Base Camp Runway, and all of the climbers were able to get on a plane back to the relative civilization of Talkeetna.   Congratulations to all the teams for putting working hard and giving it their best shot!  It’s not an easy mountain to climb, and this season the weather was particularly challenging.   It’s not all about getting to the top, and we hope everyone had a rewarding and challenging experience.

We’ll ask the climbers to post a final dispatch with some pictures from their trip in the coming days, but everyone is back home safely for the 2014 Denali climbing season for Mountain Trip!

 

June 26th “Mr. Hugo” Team back to base camp awaiting some planes

By: Mountain Trip

The guys made it down to base camp this morning and once again the weather has the last word.    It’s snowing and white at the Kahiltna Base Camp runway right now, so they are waiting for the weather to clear enough for everyone to fly out to Talkeetna for the cold beers that await them.   Good work team, even if you don’t make the top, it’s a great adventure!

Here’s the call from base camp:

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 26th “Mr Hugo” Team Heading Down

By: Mountain Trip

The team headed down along with all of the other climbers at high camp today.  It was another stormy day, with more in the forecast, and they decided it was time to get out of there.  It sounded like a pretty exciting trip down the ridge from high camp with some pretty high wind on the exposed ridge.   They are all down tonight at the 14,000 ft camp where they’ll rest and regroup before beginning the descent to base camp tomorrow.

Here’s the evening dispatch:

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 5 Comments

June 23rd Team Descends from high camp

By: Mountain Trip

The team headed down along with all of the other climbers at high camp today.  It was another stormy day, with more in the forecast, and they decided it was time to get out of there.  It sounded like a pretty exciting trip down the ridge from high camp with some pretty high wind on the exposed ridge.   They are all down tonight at the 14,000 ft camp where they’ll rest and regroup before beginning the descent to base camp tomorrow.   They worked hard, but ultimately the unrelentingly bad weather just never gave them a break.

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team, Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 23 Team – Waiting and Watching at High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

The team did not call in yesterday, but we did hear from the guides, who reported that they spent the day keeping warm in their tents, eating, hydrating and doing repairs to the snow walls that they constructed to protect their tents.  Wednesday night was a rough one, and the team had to get out to do some wall repairs in order to stave off the wind’s attempts at sweeping their snow blocks off the mountain.

Each block of snow that the climbers cut from the firm surface of camp and stacked to build their walls weighs anywhere from 10 – 30 lbs.  From the comfort of home, it is hard to fathom a wind that might move such a chunk, but it has been howling pretty fierce up high and blocks began to tumble off and slide away during the night.  In a windchill somewhere below -20F, it takes a good reason to get out of your sleeping bag at 2 a.m., bundle up in four to five layers of clothing and go outside!

Today, they will awaken and start looking for any signs that the conditions might be improving.  If they see sufficiently encouraging signs, they will give the summit a go!

Let’s think warm, calm thoughts and hope that the winds start to abate.  We’ll keep you posted on what happens!

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team | Tagged | No Comments

June 26 Mr Hugo Denali Team – Hanging Tight Up High

By: Mountain Trip

Clint Brewer called in a post that was, as expected, full of energy and good spirits, as befits the Mr. Hugo team!  The guys spent another day in really foul weather, with snow and high winds buffeting their tents.  We heard from guides at High Camp that last night was not all that restful, due to the need to get up and rebuild the thick snow walls that were being constantly disassembled by the high winds.

At High Camp, the team stacked large blocks of snow so as to construct double or even triple thick walls around all their tents.  Each block weighs 10 – 30 lbs, and a single thickness, ten foot wall might have up to 50+ blocks.  These are rather substantial structures!  When the wind is blowing hard enough to require middle-of-the-night attention, you know it is honking up there!  The forecast has called for 40 mph winds, which the guides stated sounded pretty conservative, based on what they were actually experiencing!  If the low temperature last night was the forecasted 5 F, and the winds 40 mph, the windchill outside the tents would have been in excess of -20 F.  Brrrrr…..

The plan for tomorrow will be to hope that the forecast for winds is wrong, which they often are.  The team will continue to watch for any change in the weather pattern and will eat, hydrate and keep cajoling each other to keep their spirits and motivation levels high.  It is something like a different planet up at High Camp after four or five days of tough weather, and we need to keep sending the team or good thoughts and best wishes, as the days tick past.

Hang in there guys and thanks for the fun post Clint.  We hope your bollocks come through in fine order!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 7 Comments

June 26 Mr. Hugo Team – Jacob Calls From 17,200′

By: Mountain Trip

Lead guide Jacob Schmitz called in a message from High Camp, which was unfortunately cut short, when the signal was dropped.  Today was the team’s fourth day at High Camp, and they are just waiting for the wind to diminish so the team can better assess the steep slopes above them for avalanche hazard, and then, hopefully, make a shot for the summit.

High Camp is a tough place to live, as the altitude makes it hard to eat sufficient calories to not embark on what we (only half jokingly) refer to as “The High Altitude Weight Loss Program.”  Minor tasks leave you winded, and bending over to tie your bootlaces can leave you panting and dizzy.  That being said, it is also a remarkable place, with stunning views when the clouds part.   The team has plenty of time, food and fuel, so they just need to remain motivated, which shouldn’t be too tough for this crew.

Here is Jacob!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 4 Comments

June 23 Denali Team – Rest Day at High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Cody called in from High Camp on Denali, after the team spent the day recuperating from their big day climbing to 17,200′ yesterday.  Most climbers really benefit from spending a day resting and acclimatizing at this camp before even considering attempting to go to the summit, so today was a planned day to hang out in their tents.

From tomorrow morning on, the team ill follow a practice of “hurry up and wait,” preparing themselves for a summit bid each morning, and watching the weather for their shot at the top.

Here’s Cody!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team, Alaska | Tagged | 2 Comments

June 23 Denali Team Climbed to High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Dan called in from High Camp on Denali with a spirited post.  I’m hoping that his good humor and the fun with which he provided his dispatch are the results of his enjoying the experience thus far, and not the rarefied air of 17,200′!  On Denali, this elevation has roughly one half of an atmosphere of barometric pressure, meaning there is effectively one half the oxygen per given inhalation, but my money is on Dan having a darn good time up there!

The team had a long, tough day moving up to high Camp, where they joined another Mountain Trip team as well as some other groups.  The steep slopes above High Camp had received a good amount of snow in recent days, and the guides who were already up there spent part of the day evaluating the resultant avalanche hazard.  The June 23rd team will most likely elect for a rest day after their big push up high, which will also give the slope some time to settle into a more favorable condition before they make their attempt for the top.

Well done everyone and thanks to Dan for the fun post!

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Posted in Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

June 19 Denali Team Hustled to Base Camp and Flew off the glacier!

By: Mountain Trip

I just received word that Rob, Con and Nick made short work of the descent from High Camp, arrived at Base Camp and flew off the glacier a short while ago.  After 19 days spent in the snow and wind, they were motivated to get back to civilization.  They are back in Talkeetna and we are dispatching a van to bring them back to Anchorage.

Well done guys!

Posted in 2014 Denali - June 19 Team | Tagged | No Comments

Mr. Hugo Denali team took a weather day at High Camp

By: Mountain Trip

Dusty called in from the 17,200′ High Camp, perched below Denali Pass, the low point between Denali’s north and south summits.  The team had a windy night, but it did not snow too much, so their sleep was not interrupted by having to get out and shovel their tents free from powder.

Here’s Dusty!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 3 Comments

June 19 Denali team checks in after the summit

By: Mountain Trip

Nick Aiello called in after a well deserved night’s rest.  He, Rob and Con had a tough go reaching the summit yesterday.  The morning was clear, but conditions changed as they got higher and the team needed to dig deep to make it to the top in somewhat windy conditions.

The plan is to head back down to Base Camp over the next day or two, depending on the weather.

Well done team!!!

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June 13th Team Final Dispatch

By: Mountain Trip

After pushing up the ridge in moderate winds and light snow, the team was rewarded with a calm and sunny rest day at 17,200′.  The day offered plenty of good photos and a chance for everyone to get ready for the summit attempt the following day.

The alarm in the guides tent went off at 5:30am.  As the door opened that morning the view confirmed our fears for the day.  Overnight, winds had increased, clouds had rolled in and it was snowing lightly.  After watching the weather trend worse for the next five hours, the team decided to call off the attempt and and retreat.  The trip back to base camp was disappointing for all, but went smoothly.  Now everyone is back in Anchorage and preparing to head home.

Overall it was a successful trip, unfortunately we were not able to touch the top.  I know I speak for the rest of the guide team when I say this was an excellent group to work with and we hope to see all you back in Alaska in the future!

Travis Williams
Assistant Guide
June 13th, 2014 West Buttress Expedition

Denali high camp

Looking across the 17,200′ high camp, with the steep upper section of the West Rib in the background.

Denali

The June 13 Team descending out of the 14,200′ camp in the alpenglow of the Alaskan evening.

 

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Mr. Hugo Denali Team – Moved To High Camp!

By: Mountain Trip

Lead guide Jacob Schmitz called in from the team’s new home- High Camp!  They worked hard yesterday to push up to 17,200′ and everyone is tucked into their warm sleeping bags for the evening.  It sounded like to day was a pretty nice day to travel and the team took advantage of the break in the otherwise often challenging weather of this climbing season to get to work and move up.

The plan now is to sort of , “Hurry up and wait.”  They will awaken each morning as if it were a summit day and begin their preparations for heading to the top.  This involves eating, hydrating and making certain they have all the necessary kit for the day.  All the while, they will monitor the weather to see if it looks like “a go!”  The forecast is not perfect, but we have learned over the decades that those forecasts are often quite wrong, so the team will look at the conditions above their camp and make a decision.

Here is Jacob!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | 5 Comments

June 23 Denali Team – Carried Loads to the Ridge

By: Mountain Trip

Dave Bull called in after the June 23 team carried loads up the steep fixed lines and cached them on the ridge that leads to high camp.  This is a tough day, both physically and mentally, as descending steep terrain like the fixed lines are stretched across can be unnerving to most mortals.  Everyone did well and they are now looking for the chance to move up to High Camp for their summit bid.

Here is Dave!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team, Alaska | Tagged | 2 Comments

June 19th Team on the Summit!

By: Mountain Trip

Rob called in from the top of Denali just minutes ago!   They battled the weather a bit today, but they are doing great and moving really well.   Congratulations Rob, Con, and Nick!   They’ll head back down to high camp in just a few minutes where they’ll spend the night and rest before beginning their long descent to basecamp tomorrow.

Here’s the guys from the top of Denali.

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June 23 Denali Team Carried to 16,500′

By: Mountain Trip

We might need to come up with a new, more fitting team name for this crew.  They have been signing off each dispatch with a cacophony of jungle and/or farm animal calls.  If this had only just begun, I might suspect Cerebral Edema of the entire group, but as they have been consistent for days, I’ll wager they are expressing the very good time they are having together.

In any case, today was a big day for Team Animal Farm, as they carried supplies up the steepest part of the West Buttress route.  They climbed 1,400′ of moderate snow up and out of camp, arriving after an hour and a half of work at the base of the Headwall, a 600′ bit of snow and ice that is affixed with ropes, anchored at regular intervals for its length.  Each climber has a mechanical ascender (fancy term for a climbing rope clamp) tethered to his or her harness.  Clipping their ascenders onto a fixed line gave them some additional protection against a slip on this steep terrain.

They are excited to move higher in the coming days.

Here is Garratt!

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 23 Team, Alaska | Tagged | 1 Comment

Mr. Hugo Denali Team – Rest Dat at 14,200′

By: Mountain Trip

The June 26 Denali team called in (Ross, I believe?) after today’s rest and acclimatization day at the broad 14,200′ camp.  Today they took a short hike over to “The Edge of the World.”  This spot truly feels like such, with a stomach dropping view of 1000m of nothing between you and the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier below.  It is a memorable thing to scramble up a granite rock at the glacier’s edge and poke your head off the other side.  Yowzer!!!

The plan is to make a carry of supplies up the steepest part of the West Buttress, referred to by Ross (?) as “The Wall.”  This 600′ section of 40-50 degree snow and ice guards access to the spectacular ridge that will take them an additional 1000′ up to their High Camp, located at 17,200′.  The Wall is reached after the climbers ascend 1,400′ of slightly less steep snow, over the course of an hour and a half of climbing.

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Posted in 2014 Denali - June 26 Team "Mr Hugo", Alaska | Tagged | No Comments

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