We just received word that the team headed out of High Camp at approximately 10 AM today. The team is strong and the weather is favorable, so they are giving it a shot. Best of luck to everyone and the team will be in our thoughts today!
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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.
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. Above all, have fun and dream big!
Congratulations to the team on a successful summit yesterday evening. We don’t have a lot of details, but we know that the team reached the top of Denali at 20, 320 feet at approximately 8 PM last night. All team members descended safely and are resting at High Camp.
Klara called in to report that all is well and everybody is great. Today the team moved up to Camp 3 at 11,200 feet. The weather is holding and it sounds like the team is excited to keep moving up.
Here’s Klara, with a special message for her friends back home:
Mary called in the report tonight. The team cached equipment and supplies at 16,400 feet yesterday, and exhausting effort, and today they are enjoying a well deserved rest day at 14,000 feet. It sounds like the team is enjoying the beautiful views of Foraker and sitting in the sunshine. Not so bad!
Today the team moved up to High Camp at 17,000 feet. It’s a long, hard day of climbing and it sounds like everyone did great and is feeling really good. Bob reports that the team is being well taken care of by the guide team, they are eating well and preparing for the next step in the journey.
We heard from the May 3 Team late last night. They pushed up towards the summit yesterday, but the weather deteriorated as they climbed. They reached a prominent flat area known as The Football Field at about 19,500′, but the winds above them were guarding the final 800′ of the mountain too ferociously.
They are back in camp, having waited an hour on The Football Field for the winds to slacken. The team did great, moved well, but ultimately, Mother Nature didn’t give them the opportunity to stand on top. What is important is that they made good decisions and opted not to push their luck in such an unforgiving environment. Well done to all the climbers!
John Niedermeier called in the team’s report tonight. Sounds like the team is feeling good and moving well as they make their way up the glacier. They have enjoyed good weather, beautiful sunsets, and a surprise visit by a Black Hawk!
Peter Horsman called in a very nice post, which unfortunately became a bit garbled towards the end of his post. The team spent the day at 17,200′ today, resting and acclimatizing. This was a planned day of rest, and designed to help them when they move high. They are planning to head up to the summit tomorrow, if the weather permits.
Here is Peter:
Lead guide Karen Bockel called in to report on the team’s carry up to the base of a prominent rock formation called Washburn’s Thumb. The team did well today and put their cache in higher than most teams do on the ridge up to high camp.
Jay called in to report that the team made the push up the Kahiltna Glacier to about 7800′, the site of their Camp 1. The weather was really good today, and they will get an early start tomorrow, so as to beat some of the heat on the lower glacier.
We just received word that Andy, Sean and Brian are headed up towards the summit of Denali! They left about 20 minutes ago and it looks like a beautiful day, so let’s hope that the weather holds and that the team members have enough gas in their tanks to make it to the top of North America and back.
We’ll update as we hear, but we might not post for 8+ hours, until we hear from them on the summit, at 20,320 feet above sea level!
Lead guide Eli Potter called in from Denali Base Camp on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. He, Jay and Klara all flew in on a beautiful, sunny day and were treated to a great view of their intended route, the West Rib of Denali.
Lead guide Adam Smith called in a report from Kahiltna International Airport, otherwise known as Denali Base Camp.
The team flew in yesterday and spent about a day and a half reviewing and practicing skills before they head up the massive Kahiltna Glacier tomorrow. The weather is perfect and everyone is doing great. They will leave early in the morning to travel the first part of their trek in the shade of the midnight sun. This gives them a bit more security on suspect snow bridges as they freeze during the night and can weaken during the heat of the day. Yes, that’s right… heat. It can get blazing hot when the sun comes out, even on a glacier!
The team is doing great, and everyone feels great about how they are doing. As well they should, because they have been making great progress and today carried loads up the steepest part of the route. The terrain immediately above the big 14,200′ camp starts out pretty mellow, but the slope increases as the climbers ascend. After about an hour of hiking, the snow starts to get quite steep, culminating with a headwall that can reach 45 degrees.
This steepest section is about 600′ high, and it protected by two lengths of rope, each affixed to the surface of the slope with deeply buried anchors at semi-regular intervals. These are referred to as the fixed lines, and one is for ascending climbers and the other used by those on their descent. Climbers clip into one of the lines with a mechanical rope clamp known as an ascender, which will slide in one direction, clamping down and holding the climber to the fixed line when weighted in the other direction (down!).
This is an arduous stretch of the route, but leads to some of the most spectacular climbing of the entire West Buttress, the ridge that leads to high camp! This rock and snow ridge has some big exposure with steep drop offs and makes for really fun climbing. The team climbed about 200′ of the ridge before burying a cache at about 16,400′.
Here is Greg Blasic with a report:
Yesterday a team of climbers from around the globe met in Anchorage to begin an epic journey. The climbers have spend many months training, collecting the appropriate gear, and dreaming about their upcoming adventure. It was a busy day in Anchorage, starting with a team meeting and equipment check at the Millennium Alaskan Hotel. The team met their guide, Alaskan Eli Potter, and they spent some time picking up last minute items in Anchorage. Today the team headed up to Talkeetna, the stepping off point for Denali expeditions. After participating in a mandatory National Park Service climber orientation, the team will get their bags weighed and loaded in to one of Talkeetna Air Taxi’s glacier planes. Then it’s off they go!
Let’s meet the climbers:
Klara Polackova from the Czech Republic
Jay Richards from sunny San Diego, CA.
We will endeavor to post updates as often as we receive them and the team will call in audio updates as often as possible. As simple as making a call sounds from the comfort of home, it can seem a bit challenging at times while on a big, cold mountain like Denali. If the wind is howling and the snow flying, the team may not ring us, so please hold onto the old axiom, “No News is Good News.” We encourage you to post comments for the team, but please understand that it is not possible for us to regularly pass your comments along to the climbers while they are on the mountain. They will certainly appreciate your good wishes and kind thoughts once they return to “civilization” and read your posts, so please add your voice to their dispatches.
Andy Forbes just called in an update on the team. They are enjoying a rest day at high camp, getting prepared for a summit attempt tomorrow, weather permitting. Best of luck to the team! After nine days at 14 Camp, it must feel good to be on the move again.
The team took advantage of the break in the weather to push up the fixed lines to the 17,200′ high camp. I don’t have much other information, but they made good time and are nestled in at camp, hoping for a good day to go to the top. Today looks like it might be a good day, so we should stay tuned for the possibility of our first summit attempt of the 2013 season.
Bernd Horsman called in a nice post, which was unfortunately the victim of the vagaries of satellite communication. It is not too intelligible, but I’ll leave it up, as it’s nice to hear his voice.
The team pushed up a load of supplies and gear to the narrow ridge line at 16,400′ today. This involved climbing about 1.5 hours up a moderately steep snow slope and another hour of the steepest climbing on the entire route. Along this steep section, are two lengths of rope, fixed into the ice at semi-regular intervals.
These “fixed lines” are maintained in a collaborative effort between the National Park Service and the mountain guides, and allow climbers an additional level of protection on the steep terrain. Each climber clips a mechanical rope clamp known as an ascender onto one of the ropes. These ascenders will only move in one direction, and will clamp onto the rope if weighted in the other (down!) direction. Attached to the harness of a climber, they can help provide protection in the event of a slip.
The weather sounds glorious and the mountain was very clear, so let’s hope for a few more days of the same!
Grant Ritchie called in a very nice post, which contained some good news – the team moved up to 14,200′, but also some sad news – they Tylers have descended to base camp and flew off the mountain.
Ariel was exhibiting signs and symptoms of altitude sickness, and given the complex terrain ahead of them, they decided that the prudent course of action was to not push their luck and say farewell to their team mates. Both Isaac and Ariel are fine and Ariel feels like a different, healthy, happy person down in the thick, luxuriant air of Talkeetna. Our guide and Alaska Range Manager Joe Butler, who climbed with the Tylers in Antarctica, drove up to pick them up and take them back to Anchorage.
Grant, Mary and Karen are continuing their ascent. Brian and another Mountain Trip guide from our May 5th trip, Josh, are making their way back up the Kahiltna to catch up with the team. The weather looks great and the forecast looks favorable, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that they can keep in motion upwards!
Jacob called in a post that did not fully transmit over the temperamental satellite phone service available at such northern latitudes. I’ll leave his brief message live for those who will enjoy hearing even a brief snippet of his voice.
The team was finally able to move up out of the 11,200′ camp! They pushed up and around Windy Corner on a somewhat windy day, but it was clear and they were all motivated to get a change of scenery. They established themselves at the big basin camp at 14,200′, along with a growing population of other climbers. The high winds of late have resulted in well over 100 climbers setting up residence in the broad Genet Basin.
Everyone did well and tomorrow they will have a fairly easy day when they drop back down to retrieve the cache of supplies they left at about 13,500′ a few days ago.