May 10 Team – Last Words from Lead Guide Karen

Well, We have returned to civilization!  It’s been a couple days since we flew off the Kahiltna glacier, and the world has got us back.   We completed our trip in Talkeetna with a big feast of burgers and fish sandwiches at the West Rib, after flying out of basecamp on the evening of May 27th.  It was a great trip all around and I am very happy with our climb.  Sitting in bascamp waiting for TAT to pick us off the ice, I was reminiscing about our days spent on the mountain as a team.  We started as a fine group of six, with 4 climbers and two guides.  A lot of grunt work and heavy loads got us through the lower part of the mountain.  It big was great to see everyone pitch in and shares the chores.  We gained 11K as a storm settled in on the mountain, requiring us to build walls and fortify our camp.  After several days spent at 11K, it became clear that Ariel and Isaac would not continue the expedition climbing higher on the mountain for altitude related reasons.  It was a tough day for all of us, seeing half of our team leaving, Ariel and Isaac, who were so strong and so well prepared, and such a part of the team.  In my mind though, they climbed with us the entire way…

On to 14K went our now small team.  Assistant guide Brian was on his way to join back up with us after descending to basecamp.  We had beautiful weather and views from our camp at 14K and over a few days put in all the work to set us up for moving to up to 17K.  High camp was warm, sunny, and calm. Our summit day was just spectacular. We had some cold temps and wind up high, but one of the best rewards of that day were the amazing views from the summit ridge, approaching the top.  Standing on the summit with Mary Scannell and Grant Ritchie was a special moment! It was so rewarding after both had climbed so well for the entire expedition and then really stepped it up for summit day, climbing with purpose and determination.  I was proud of our team.

Our descend to basecamp was completed in two days, spending a short, but well-deserved night at 11K on the way. After a few hours spent waiting in basecamp in the hot glacier sun, we flew out of the Alaska Range and arrived in Talkeetna.  The expedition was completed.

I would like congratulate Grant and Mary on climbing to the summit of Denali. Well done! I would also like to offer my appreciation to Ariel and Isaac for their awesome effort on the expedition.  And to everyone I would like to say Thank you!  It was great climbing with all of you.  And I hope the teamwork we built, the friendships we formed, and the memories of this beautiful mountain will last for you as they will for me!

Karen Bockel



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