After a day of waiting for the snow to stop falling at Base Camp, the team members of our June 26th crew loaded up and flew the 45 minute flight into the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier this morning.
We call getting stuck in Talkeetna the “Talkeetna Hang.” This team got off pretty easy, with just one night’s “Hang.” This meant that they were able to treat themselves to the iconic “Full Standard” breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse this morning. The Full Standard is world renowned for its size and density and will provide most mortals with several day’s worth of calories. For a Denali climber, it will get them part-way up to Camp 1, so it’s a good thing that they had this opportunity.
The flight from Talkeetna is a nice transition from the relative warmth and humid greenery of southcentral Alaska to the cold, dry air and stark white, grey and black tones of the Alaska Range. The planes took off and flew over a network of lakes and creeks before they passed over the first snowy foothills of the Range. A bit farther, they flew over the massive terminus of the Ruth and Tokositna Glaciers, tumbled folds of rock and ice. Shortly thereafter, the planes headed through a tight pass affectionately known as One Shot Pass, which allowed them to access the Kahiltna Glacier for the final approach to Base Camp.
Landing on a ski plane for the first time is an experience not soon forgotten! It seems rather improbable as the plane lowers above the snow, skips a time or two before rapidly losing velocity and making the 180 degree turn at the end of the runway so that it faces downhill for it’s departure.
The team will be busy setting up camp and reviewing glacier travel skills that they will put to good use in the wee hours of the morning. They will get up and travel in the Alaskan nighttime, making their way up glacier when it is at its most frozen.
We’ll post more as we hear news from the crew.
Here’s the crew in Talkeetna yesterday.