This is the story of my trip to climb and ski Denali in the spring of 2014. Continue reading
About a week ago from right now, I was flying off the Kahiltna after successfully skiing off the summit of Denali. I may put some words to these later but if you want to hear the whole story, you’ll have to sit down with me over a beer or two. Enjoy!
This trip was a long time coming. Though discussions started last autumn, things were cemented on this fateful night when Hans convinced me to join him (Lauren assisted) on a 12-day mountaineering course with AMS. Six months (and a plane ride, and 6 hours in the Ted Stevens International Airport and a 3-hour shuttle) later, we were dropped off at the Talkeetna Hostel, where we would be spending a night before flying out to the Pika glacier.
Alright, finally back up and running here. These photos are from a 4-wheeling trip to Chinaman Gulch taken last weekend, which coincided with my birthday. I was the designated photog, and did no driving.
After getting home from work, I threw everything in the car, went to Nate’s, and we hit the road for Buena Vista. It was cloudy and rainy on the way up, which made for a spectacular view from just outside of town.
This pose looks familiar.
Last year was Mt. Democrat, a pretty easy hike. This year was Mt. Sherman, which is similarly easy (if not easier). It was chosen for the sake of a girl who bailed at the last minute. Next year we’ll be forced to move on to more difficult ones, which is fine by me. This was about as leisurely a hike as is possible; I felt no effects from thin air (including breathing hard), which has never happened before. This is mind boggling as we were all up pretty late enjoying the camp fire. Anyway, on to the pictures.
We left Denver about 4:30 on Friday, which was a terrible idea. I-70 was a parking lot. A few hours later we grabbed dinner in Leadville, and eventually found the road to the trailhead. It was getting late, but there was plenty of light left for setting up the tent, and taking a couple photos.
As we got up to the ridge, the dogs found a few snow patches to play in. Dogs don’t get enough credit on the intelligence side. They love snow as much as I do, and there’s got to be something going on there.
This one is from the summit ridge. Not sure of the elevation, probably somewhere around 13,500′.
An hour and a half of leisurely hiking and we were on top. Someone had taped a miniature American flag to the summit post.
Nate neglected to bring a jacket, and it was cold and windy on top, so Andrew and Katy helped him keep warm.
It felt amazing up there, like standing inside a windy refrigerator. Most other people up there didn’t appreciate it the way I did. After hanging out on top for a while, some rain showed up on nearby mountaintops, so I decided it was time to go. I stashed my camera and moved, so no pictures were taken until I got back to the sunny meadow. There was a stream we crossed at the very beginning, and Scout and I were a ways ahead of the group when we got there, so we decided to soak our feet in the ice cold snow runoff.
The rest of the folks showed up a few minutes later, and we walked a couple more minutes to the cars, where Nate and Matt had been waiting after practically running down the mountain. We went back to camp, and celebrated with beer, burgers, and hot dogs. Matt had 5, it was ridiculous.
Scout was absolutely exhausted. I put a bowl of food in front of her and she just dipped her head in and nibbled. She’s just
now starting to get back to full energy. I don’t know where I’ll take her next, but I’m sure she’ll be similarly worn out.
8 miles RT, approx. 3,950′ of elevation gain. Just under six hours camp to camp.
Last weekend, it was decided to head up outside of Leadville, camp a night, then hike Mt. Massive in the morning. It was Nate’s turn to drive, so he picked me up from work and we took off for the mountains.
It was pouring rain most of the way up (which is all good and well, but it still hasn’t rained in Denver all summer), leading to some concern that we’d be miserable setting up camp, having dinner, etc. Fortunately it stopped as we got there, and it was nice and cool. As we got to the trailhead, an unnecessary river crossing was made, twice. The water was up to the bottom of the doors on Nate’s Cherokee. On to the pictures:
Scout hanging out while we set up camp.
The main beverage for the evening:
The view from camp:
Andrew getting dinner going:
Andrew drinking, Nate screwing around with the fire:
Andrew enjoying a Backwoods:
On to the morning. There were Columbines everywhere – more here in one day than I’d ever seen combined.
Another marmot, captured with my new lens:
Not a bad view.
After hanging out and eating Doritos on the summit for half an hour or so, we headed back down, grilled up a few more burgers, and took off.