Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rest Day!

The crew slept in and enjoyed a beautiful day at Camp 3 today, resting, and recharging after a hard day of work yesterday. It takes a while to get used to the thinner air at 14,200 ft, so they'll spend several nights at this level to give their bodies a good chance to acclimate before pushing higher on the mountain.

Sounds like they had a really nice day, here's Tony with the evening dispatch.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Camp 3, 14,200 ft!!

The morning started off pretty blustery today, and it didn't look like they were going to be able to move up to Camp 3. It started to get a bit better as the morning wore on, and by 11 am, they were on the move. It turned into a beautiful afternoon, and they had no troubles moving on up to the next camp at 14,200 ft. The views just continue to get better as they get higher on the mountain, and everyone was thrilled to be able to make this next big step towards the top. They'll spend about 4 nights at this camp, so it will be home for a while now.

The whole team did very well today, but they are a bit tired tonight and feeling the affects of 14,000 ft. They'll have a relaxing day to recover tomorrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An extra day at Camp 2

The wind was blowing at windy corner today and the team decided it was too stormy to battle up to Camp 3. It's pretty typical to get several days where you are waiting for bad weather to clear on a Denali expedition. Windy Corner has earned it's name over the years, and lived up to it today. They spent the day reading, relaxing, playing with their iPods, and eating. Not a bad day in the mountains really...

Here's the call from David Marchi this evening.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Carry around Windy Corner

The team is cruising right along and had another beautiful day. The guide team carried a load of food and fuel up to Camp 3 at 14,200 ft while the rest of the climbers and guides made a slightly more leisurely carry to 13,500 ft, just around "Windy Corner". It didn't live up to it's name today as they had beautiful weather and very light winds. They have been very lucky with the weather so far on their trip, hopefully that can hold out for another 8-9 days. Everyone is doing very well and having a good time together.

Here's Bill Dwyer with the evening call. He looses the signal on the sat phone towards the end, but you can listen to the introduction anyhow.

Bob and Art left the expedition and came down to basecamp with a couple of the guides. They are fine, but were done with the trip. They are on the way home by now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A relaxing day at Camp 2

They had a rest day at 11,000 ft today after a big day of moving yesterday. Everyone is doing great, and getting more acclimated with every day they spend there. Tomorrow they'll carry a load of gear up to 13,500 ft in preparation of moving up to Camp 3.

Pierre called with the evening dispatch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Camp 2, 11,000 ft

They moved up to Camp 2 this morning. They are moving right along under beautiful blue skies, and perfect conditions for traveling up the glacier. They joined another Mt Trip team at Camp 2 today, so had some company in camp. It has been beautiful up there for the last few days and they are enjoying it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another great day!

They are at Camp 1 again tonight after carrying a bit of gear up to 10,500 ft and making a cache this morning.
Here's the daily update from Shlomo. I think he does a pretty good job of explaining everything, so listen to his call...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Camp 1, 7,800 ft

The guys did great today (Monday) and made the move from Camp 1 to base camp. The snowy weather of the last few weeks is has finally moved on and they had a beautiful day yesterday. They got up very early in the morning on Monday to travel in the coldest time of day before the snow softened up in the afternoon. It is about 5 miles from base camp to Camp 1 up the Kahiltna Glacier. The elevation gain is pretty small, they really only gain about 600 vertical ft, but there is a bit of up and down, and it's hard work carrying a pack and hauling a sled up the glacier.

They've settled in for the night now, and here's the evening call from our guide Luke.

Base Camp

The team flew in to base camp this morning, and got right to work. Jason, Kelly, and Luke (guides) carried a load up to camp 1 this afternoon, and returned back to base camp. David and Bill spent the day in base camp with the rest of the team reviewing some of the skills they will need to travel up the Kahiltna glacier tomorrow.

They'll get an early start tomorrow to beat the heat of the day on the lower glacier. It's not uncommon for teams to travel at night for the first few days of the trip to take advantage of a firmer, frozen glacier surface instead of the soft snow of the afternoon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Planes Are Flying!

They are flying into base camp!! The weather improved this morning and the clouds cleared out of base camp so the Talkeetna Air Taxi fleet took off with our climbers. The flight takes about 45 minutes, and is amazing. Taking off from Talkeetna at about 350 ft elevation and flying into the icy world of the Alaska range and landing at over 7000 ft in just 45 minutes is a great way to start this expedition.

Here's lead guide David Marchi's morning audio dispatch from Talkeetna...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Waiting Patiently(?) in Talkeetna

Team Ice Agers drove up to Talkeetna this morning with great hopes of flying into base camp today. The weather in the Alaska range has been un cooperative lately, and today was no different. Late last night and early this morning several flights were able to get from Talkeetna to base camp, and many climbers who have been waiting for up to 5 days were thrilled to finally catch a flight either in or out of the mountain. By mid afternoon the clouds were settling back in and the flights were put on weather hold, it hasn't improved yet. The forecast is still looking good for tomorrow, and our first high pressure and blue skies are supposed to appear tomorrow.

They settled in to rooms in Talkeetna for the night, and will get up tomorrow and hope to see the sun. They are first on the list to fly in with our friends at Talkeetna Air Taxi, so they could go in right away if the weather is nice.

You can watch the live web-cam of the Alaska Range that the climbers and pilots watch to see the weather and views of the range from Talkeetna. There is a link to the right for the TAT Webcamp, and the NOAA forecasts for Denali.

You can also check out a video/slideshow that we made from last season to see what it looks like up there a bit.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

West Buttress Route Map

Click on the image to enlarge it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Ice Ager's Mountain

Mt McKinley, also known as Denali, requires a long journey to get to its summit. The team has contracted with Talkeetna Air Taxi http://www.talkeetnaair.com/ to fly them onto the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200' on June 19, 2010.

From base camp, climbers must travel 16 crevassed-riddled miles to reach the summit at 20,320.' Along the way they will establish four more camps. Note: we'll soon have a route map available for our family and friends to follow our progress.

Denali is a massive mountain with a greater rise than Everest. After leaving base camp at 7,200 on the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, climbers will carry supplies to camp 1. To accomplish this, they will have full backpacks and pull sleds laden with gear to last them three weeks on the mountain. This is the only time they'll make a single carry between camps. Subsequent camp moves will require caching equipment and returning for it later. Add to that any weather delays, and this is what causes Denali expeditions to be so long. Expedition followers will get a better sense of this as expedition reports are dispatched by the Mountain Trip staff and others.

Weather can be unforgiving on Denali and is a key topic in any discussion. Here's a link to help keep family and friends apprised of Denali's weather as we climb: http://pafg.arh.noaa.gov/wmofcst.php?wmo=SXAK49PAFG&type=public.

Of course, climbers start following this weather link weeks before their climb begins. Making weather matters inherently worse, is the fact that Denali lies in the higher latitudes where the atmospheric pressure is slightly less than at the Equator. This artificially makes Denali seem like it's almost 23,000' high. This puts even greater pressure on the team to acclimatize as they ascend the mountain.

(Photo by Alasdair Turner)

Although the ratio of oxygen in the atmosphere remains the same at high altitude, the reduced atmospheric pressure means less oxygen. The body adjusts for this reduced oxygen by enabling the red blood cells to absorb more oxygen, which thickens the blood. The heart rate will also rise to compensate for reduced oxygen saturation levels. Denali Ice Agers team member Art Huseonica will be carrying an oximeter with him to measure his pulse and blood oxygen saturation levels throughout the climb.

Art's sea level resting pulse is 52 with an oxygen saturation level of 99 percent. At times during the climb, his pulse will be 152 with an oxygen saturation level of 72 percent; a condition that at sea level, would send a person to the emergency room.

The stay at camp 4 (high camp) will be only long enough to make a summit bid. At 17,200,' the body is in a state of deterioration due to the low oxygen level in the atmosphere. Even a bowel movement takes great effort. All solid wastes are either dropped into a designated deep crevasse or carried in Clean Mountain Cans (see photo above) as mandated by the National Park Service. In addition, all trash is discarded in a designated crevasse or carried off the mountain.

Art Huseonica, team member, Denali Ice Agers Expedition 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Denali Ice Agers Itinerary

Climbing Denali is a serious endeavor with big mountain weather, geography and acclimatization issues. The following itinerary represents an outline of what the Denali Ice Agers Expedition 2010 team members can expect. The Mountain Trip guides know the mountain and may elect to stray from this itinerary in order to give the team the best possible shot at getting to the summit and safely returning. Injuries and frostbite are not an option.

June 18th is Day 1. Please keep in mind that subsequent days could vary on the calendar depending on weather and other factors.

DAY 1: MEET IN ANCHORAGE. Team Meeting for expedition review and equipment check.

DAY 2: TRAVEL TO TALKEETNA AND FLY ON TO THE GLACIER. Team members will travel by shuttle the several hours to Talkeetna where they will register with the National Park Service and obtain their climbing permits prior to flying on to the glacier. Weather permitting, the team will fly into the Kahiltna Glacier at 7,200 feet that afternoon. Once on the glacier, everyone will pitch in to get Base Camp established.

DAY 3: CARRY SUPPLIES TO CAMP 1. Departing base camp, the team will drop down the infamous Heartbreak Hill and onto the broad Kahiltna glacier. The goal is to carry loads to the site of Camp 1 at 7,800 feet, near the junction with the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. This is a moderate carry of about nine miles round-trip and is a good shake-down for the upcoming days. Depending on the team and weather, the team may or may not return to Base Camp. Throughout the expedition, the Denali Ice Agers will follow the “climb high, sleep low” technique, for better acclimatization, however the altitude difference between Base Camp and Camp 1 is minimal enough to permit a “single-carry” on this stretch. The team may also choose to do their climbing early in the morning to avoid the excessive heat and soft snow conditions on the Lower Glacier. In June, there is 24 hours of daylight.

DAY 4: MOVE REMAINING SUPPLIES AND ESTABLISH CAMP 1. (If the team double carries to Camp 1.)

DAY 5: HAUL LOADS UP TO KAHILTNA PASS. The team will head out of Camp 1 and carry loads up Ski Hill. Several options exist for camp sites between 9,000 and 11,000 feet, depending upon weather and snow conditions. This is a moderately difficult carry of 7-9 miles round-trip, with 3,000 feet of elevation gain and a return to Camp 1 for the night.

DAY 6: MOVE EVERYTHING TO CAMP 2. Camp is often in the 11,200’ basin at the base of Motorcycle Hill. This is an incredibly beautiful camp that basks in alpen glow when the sun travels around the north side of the mountain.

DAY 7: BACK-CARRY DAY. This is an “active rest day” during which the team drops back down and pick up the cache left down near Kahiltna Pass. It also helps give team members another day to acclimatize before moving higher.

DAY 8: HAUL LOADS AROUND WINDY CORNER (13,300 FEET). Steep snow climbing up Motorcycle Hill rewards the climbers with spectacular views. The total distance is four miles round trip with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Climbing with crampons and ice axe gets the team around Windy Corner where the upper Mountain comes into full view.

DAY 9: MOVE CAMP TO 14,200 FEET. Moving to Camp 3 is a long, hard day. Loads are getting lighter but the air is getting thinner. Regardless, the team will have to fortify this camp due to the possibility for severe weather. Climbers cut blocks of compressed glacier snow to build walls around their tents.

DAY 10: BACK-CARRY DAY. This is another “active rest day,” during which the team will descend from Camp 3 to the Windy Corner cache and bring everything up to 14,200 feet.

DAY 11: CLIMB UP THE HEADWALL TO THE RIDGE. The team will cache supplies on the ridge and return to 14,200 feet. Climbing up the Headwall (fixed lines run from 15,500 to 16,100 feet) with a heavy pack is one of the more strenuous days of the trip, because of the steep terrain, heavy pack and thinning air. The views from the ridge can be as breath taking as the rarified air!

DAY 12: REST DAY. The team will take a rest/acclimatization day prior to moving up to High Camp.

DAY 13: MOVE TO HIGH CAMP (Camp 4) at 17,200 feet. This is another tough day because loads are big and the terrain is steep in sections. Rewards for our work are in the great climbing along the ridge. Weaving in and out of the rocks and then walking a knife edged ridge, combine with high altitude exposure to create one of the most memorable parts of the route.

DAY 14: REST DAY. Moving to 17,200 feet and getting High Camp established and fortified against strong winds can be a huge day, so the team plans a rest day before attempting the summit.

DAY 15: SUMMIT DAY: If the weather is favorable, the team will make a summit bid. It is important to be patient! The team will only attempt a summit bid when the weather is good, meaning mostly clear and light winds. The round trip climb will take twelve hours or more.

DESCENT: The descent from High Camp to Base Camp takes two days. The descent can beat up climbers more than the ascent, because they'll be carrying the heaviest loads of the trip as they descend from High Camp. Weather dictates when the team can use Talkeetna Air Taxi to fly out of Base Camp to Talkeetna.

Art Huseonica, Denali Ice Agers Expedition 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ice Agers Bios

Hi, team.....thought it would be fun to post the climbers bios for all to see. It would be great if the rest of the team would email me their bios & I`ll post them. They can be formatted however you want. We'll also include guides bios as time permits.

Climber name: Bob Baker
Age: 66

From: Anacortes WA (Pacific NW)

Occupation: Underemployed Realtor

Personal note: Been playing in wild places since childhood. Started climbing in 1984 with my son, led to rock & ice climbing in NY Adirondacks, then mountaineering. Became fascinated with Denali after climbing a few 14`ers in CO. in `80`s & `90`s.

My favorite climbs have been a winter ascent of Mountaineer`s route on Longs Peak, Mt Sanford in the St Elias Range & of course my Denali attempts...up to the fixed lines.

I am thrilled at having this opportunity with MT. Love their approach, good vibes all around. See you soon in Anchorage, team!

Climber name: Art Huseonica
Age: 59

From: Originally Homer City, Pennsylvania; currently Crofton, Maryland
Occupation: Contingent Associate Professor and Warehouse Manager.
Personal Note: I’m retired from the U.S. Navy and higher education. Currently, I teach part-time for University of Maryland University College. To help stay in shape, I’m the warehouse manager at SchoolMart.com.

An avid extreme sports enthusiast, I've skydived at the Florida Spacecoast and Virginia's Dismal Swamp dive centers, raced bicycles for the Melbourne Florida Velodromes, paddled for the Honolulu Outrigger Canoe Team, and flew hot air balloons in Maryland. With numerous climbs in North and South America, this puts me at my current climbing endeavor. What's after Denali? - learn how to dance for my son Patrick's wedding.

Climber name: Tony Scheuller
Age: 65
I have wanted to climb Denali for a long time. I was in the Air National Guard in Reno Nevada and we deployed to Alaska many times but never had the time to really visit the Mountain. With this trip I look forward to learning the Mountain with gusto.

I was born in Ely Nevada but grew up and went to school in Reno Nevada. Except for my travels in the military I have pretty much been a Nevada boy. I look forward to meeting you all and consider this a once in a lifetime adventure.

Other climbers include Shlomo Waser and Pierre Godart.

Lead guide: David Marchi

I grew up in Mt. Shasta, CA where I was exposed to backcountry skiing and the big mountain environment at an early age. After attending Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, I longed for an outside job and began working as a mountaineering guide for Shasta Mountain Guides in 1999. Since then I have guided in Nepal, Indonesia, India and South America. In Alaska, I have guided trips on Denali and work as a helicopter ski guide for Chugach Powder Guides. In 2005, I was part of an international team implementing avalanche and safety protocols for a new ski development in Kashmir, India.

With my AMGA Ski Mountaineering training, Wilderness First Responder and AIARE Avalanche training I have collected a lot of experience and can provide climbers with challenging and fun adventures.

Currently, my wife, Petit, and I are traveling in a converted Ambulance/RV that runs off of waste veggie oil promoting our joint guiding business Globallines. As we travel we present fresh slideshows of inspiring images that remind people of their choices in life. Believing that our world is at the tipping point, we encourage our guests to awaken to the possibilities of their life and how they treat the environment.

Climbing guide Kelly Marie Ryan

Kelly Marie grew up skiing and climbing in the San Juan Mountains. She has been guiding since 2004 in a variety of disciplines including mountain climbing, ice climbing, sea and river kayaking, and wilderness therapy. Kelly Marie has also worked on ski patrol at Crystal Mountain, WA and holds Avalanche II, Outdoor Emergency Care, Wilderness First Responder, and Leave No Trace Instructor certifications.

Her personal adventures include a three month climbing trip in Greenland supported by kayak, a four month solo horse trip in Argentina, sailing trips from the east coast to Greenland and Puerto Rico, and extended backpacking trips in the Aleutian Islands and Bolivia. Kelly Marie has also skied and climbed throughout the US and is pursuing AMGA certification. She attended Colorado College graduating with a BA in History and Political Science and a Minor in Journalism. This spring Kelly Marie climbed Denali’s West Buttress with her father as well as the Cassin Ridge.

Other guides include Caitlin Hague, Bill Dwyer III, and Jason Buttrick.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Art of Denali Training

There are as many methods of training as there are climbers on Denali in any one year. To stimulate discussion and comments, here's a brief summary of my training process which includes mostly non-conventional methodologies.

Day job - for upper body strength, my day job is working at a warehouse that utilizes mechanical and human labor. I maximize the human labor by manually moving boxes that weigh up to 70 pounds. This helps to maintain my upper body strength and improve muscular coordination while in various positions. In addition, as a major climb approaches, I wear a weighted 40 pound backpack to maximize opportunities to do deep knee bends and increase aerobics while moving around the warehouse.

Winter mountain (hill) - during the brief periods that Maryland experiences snow, I drive to western Maryland and train for six hours. Wearing snowshoes, I have a weighted 50 pound (23 kilo) back pack and pull a Denali expedition sled loaded with two 50-pound (45 kilo total) bags of sand. Pulling sleds is a love-hate relationship, but is an invaluable tool when attempting the West Buttress route on Denali, according to Denali guide and personal friend Coley Gentzel.

Beach - on days when Maryland is vacant of snow and the inclement weather keeps the crowds away from the Chesapeake Bay beaches, I will drag a 42 pound utility truck tire to simulate Denali sled usage. Snowshoes work great on the soft sand. However, this training has its

drawbacks. Most significant are the delays caused by Homeland Security police investigating my unusual appearance and behavior near a key vehicle artery - the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided me with the tire because the sand was eating away at my expedition sled.

In addition, on alternating weekends, I will utilize the hiking trails of Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Maryland. This simulates trail approaches to glaciers. No directly applicable to a Denali expedition, it does provide an aerobic training opportunity while enjoying the natural wilderness.

My reliance on non-conventional training methodologies enables me to maximize my training time and to better simulate climbing conditions expected on this expedition. Despite a year-round regiment of training, I am still prepared to suffer with dignity and humor, as is any good high altitude mountain climber.

Art Huseonica, Denali Ice Agers Expedition 2010 team member

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Interesting Denali Weather Chart

This is an online weather chart for Denali that we just recently found. It should update itself daily, so please use it as a reference.

Weather by meteoexploration