Sunday, July 20, 2008
The link and password below will take you there.
Click the link, then enter the user name (Denali) and password (ORCA). These are case sensitive.
It may take a while to load. Then turn your sound on and click "watch photoshow" or click on any thumbnail to look at individual pictures.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Naperville man dies atop Alaska's Mt. McKinley
Climber apparently suffered a heart attack
By James Kimberly, Chicago Tribune, July 7, 2008
James Nasti was an avid runner, cyclist and mountaineer who had been on an 11-year quest to climb the highest points in all 50 states. But upon reaching his 49th high point on the 4th of July, the Naperville father of three collapsed and died on the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska, apparently of a heart attack.
Because of treacherous conditions atop the 20,320-foot peak, Nasti's body could not be recovered. Instead, an expedition from the tour company he climbed with buried him there Sunday.
It was a fitting finish to a full life, family and friends said. "It's actually kind of comforting," Chris Nasti, 24, his eldest son, said Monday. "If he was going to die of a heart attack, there's probably no better place to have done it than that. If he was to be laid to rest anywhere, the top of North America is probably the best place for him."
Nasti, 51, was the first person to die on Mt. McKinley's summit, according to the National Park Service, although 101 have died on the mountain since 1932. One of those was a climber who died in 1988 while descending from the summit, said Maureen McLaughlin, a public information officer at Denali National Park and Preserve.
Altogether, 38 bodies, including Nasti's, have not been recovered from the mountain, she said.
Nasti's quest to reach the peak began June 20, when he and a friend joined three other climbers and two guides. After Nasti collapsed after reaching the peak Friday, the guides tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him. Denali National Park rangers at a 14,200-foot camp were notified and told the team with Nasti to descend to a 17,200-foot camp.
The apex of the summit is an exposed flat area about the size of a single-car garage, McLaughlin said. Just below the summit is a 500-foot-long "knife-edge ridge." Park service officials determined that neither a technical rescue involving a rope-rigging system nor a helicopter rescue attempt was safe enough to try.
Because members of Alpine Ascents International were going back to the summit Sunday, they asked—and were granted—permission to bury him.
Another climber dies on McKinley
Mystery: As with a Friday death, there's no obvious cause.
By Lisa Demer, Anchorage Daily News, July 9, 2008
The second climber in a week died suddenly on a guided trip to Mount McKinley on Monday night, and mountaineers are looking for answers: Why did two seemingly healthy men collapse at or near the top of the big mountain.
Pungkas Tri Baruno, from Jakarta, Indonesia, was 20 years old and apparently fit, one of three young climbers on an expedition connected with the country's national scouting organization. Baruno made it to the 20,320 foot summit Monday and almost back to high camp at 17,200 feet.
He descended the West Buttress route slowly but steadily. The wind picked up, clouds moved in and it began to snow. His guide kept asking him whether he felt nauseous or dizzy. Baruno said he didn't feel sick, according to Todd Rutledge, co-owner of the guiding company, Mountain Trip.
Then, roped to his guide, maybe 15 minutes from camp, Baruno gave out. "I can't go on," he told his guide, then collapsed. The others had gone ahead. His guide radioed for help, then he and other guides spent more than an hour trying to revive Baruno, said the National Park Service. But they couldn't bring him back.
He was the fourth mountaineer to die on Denali this climbing season.
Three days earlier on July 4, 51-year-old James Nasti of the Chicago area collapsed and died just as he reached the summit of North America's tallest peak. He was in good shape, too, a man who had climbed Mount Rainier twice -- middle-aged but with no history of heart trouble, his family said.
"It really seems like a horrible coincidence. We don't know what happened to either of these two climbers, really, but they were both very sudden onsets," Rutledge said.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Click the link, then enter the user name (Denali) and password (ORCA). These are case sensitive.
It may take a while to load. Then turn your sound on and click "watch photoshow" or click on any thumbnail to look at individual pictures.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
It may take a while to load. Then turn your sound on and click "watch photoshow" or click on any thumbnail to look at individual pictures. I will probably revise it when I get pictures from the other team members.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Denali mountaineering rangers led a life-saving technical rope rescue of a fallen solo climber on Mt. McKinley the evening of June 3.
Claude Ratté, age 44, of Montreal, Quebec was descending the West Buttress route from the 17,200-foot high camp to the 14,200-foot camp when he fell almost 2,000 feet down to the Peters Glacier. The climber fell from an elevation of approximately 16,400 feet down a 35 to 40 degree snow and ice slope, suffering facial trauma and a leg and ankle injury in the fall. Ratté was able to use his satellite phone to dial 9-1-1 shortly before noon on Tuesday. Alaska State Troopers connected the distressed climber with Denali National Park rangers who initiated a ground rescue. The high altitude Lama helicopter was unable to fly due to heavy cloud cover.
Denali's West Buttress route. Claude Ratté fell 2,000 feet down the steep snow slopes to the left of the ridge crest, below the 17,200-foot camp. Rescuers hauled him back to the ridge and then lowered him to the 14,200-foot camp to await evacuation. Image courtesy of Costnet.com/denali.
Denali's West Buttress route. Claude Ratté fell 2,000 feet down the steep snow slopes to the left of the ridge crest, below the 17,200-foot camp. Rescuers hauled him back to the ridge and then lowered him to the 14,200-foot camp to await evacuation. Image courtesy of Costnet.com/denali. _______________________________________________________
A hasty team led by NPS mountaineering ranger Brandon Latham mobilized immediately from the 17,200-foot high camp, reaching the injured climber within three to four hours. A second rescue team led by mountaineering ranger Mik Shain climbed up the fixed lines from the 14,200-foot camp to assist in the elaborate technical rope rescue.
After an initial medical assessment was performed by the first responders, Ratté was secured in a rescue litter and the labor-intensive technical rope rescue commenced. Using multiple anchored rope systems, the patient was first raised 2,000 feet back up to the 16,200-foot elevation on West Buttress ridge, before being lowered 2,000 feet down the Headwall to the NPS ranger camp at 14,200 feet. From the time of the initial distress call, the entire ground rescue operation took 10.5 hours and involved 14 ground rescuers including mountaineering rangers, NPS volunteers, mountain guides, and independent climbers.
Denali mountaineering staff estimates there have been at least 10 significant climbing falls onto the Peters Glacier, including three separate fatalities in 1998. The technical rope rescue of Ratté involves the longest raising operation in Denali mountaineering history.
As of the morning of June 4, Ratté remains in serious but stable medical condition at the 14,200-foot camp awaiting helicopter evacuation. With improving weather conditions on the mountain, the patient is expected to be flown off this afternoon and transferred to an Anchorage-based air ambulance for further medical care.
By Maureen McLaughlin, Climbing Magazine
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Weather is supposed to get worse overnight, so if it doesn' t clear today who knows when they will get out. Again the phone was cutting in and out, so no more details of the climb.
This am I got a phone call from Bobbi that they were down at 7000 feet , expected to fly out today to Anchorage today and hoped to be home by Thursday.
Bobbi and I planned our trip to Tahiti for next year. Danielle, are you available?
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
George's blog (6/1) - The GORCA team (Steve, Ben + George) made it today!!! Congratulations. They reached the summit at 7:30 PM after a 9 hour climb, stayed for a few minutes and decided that the below zero temps and +20 winds was enough and headed back to 17K. Good to be in the land of midnight sun for a long day of light and climbing. Paul decided to hold back given the near whiteout conditions. It was a 4 hour return trip and the team is tired and resting up.
Paul's blog (6/1) - We only had two possible summit days left, today and tomorrow (Monday). We really wanted to attempt the summit, especially after being at 17,200 foot camp for a week. After that much time, you think you are going out of your mind from boredom. Try to imagine what life would be like being stuck at high camp. You lay in your bed, eat only dehydrated food, without a shower and have little to do except stare at the ceiling for 16 hours per day for a week. It is a test of your sanity. It is the sacrifice mountain climbers have to make at times for that ever elusive summit. Of course, when you have been in a situation like this for a week, it adds significantly to your desire to reach the summit and go home.
In order to have enough food to summit and get to the bottom of the mountain, today and tomorrow were our only options for a summit. This obviously made us very determined to head to the summit today. However, we woke up to poor weather conditions. It was nothing but a cold, windy and a white out because of the snow. Regardless, we proceeded to get ready to summit while hoping for the weather to change. It did not change. We even got to the point of roping up. Meanwhile, I had a bad feeling in my gut. It kept getting stronger with each passing moment because of the the weather conditions. Finally, I told my teammates that I was not going to join them for the summit attempt. If they wanted to try for the summit that was ok with me. I was not comfortable with making the attempt in the white out conditions we were faced with. It was very tough to take a stand against the majority but I knew I was being true to my climbing phyolosophy. In addition, I was being true to the promises I made to my family and my wife. Hopfully, the weather is ideal tomorrow so I can reach the summit. For now, I know I made the right choice regardless of whether my partners make it to the top or not.
George's blog (6/2) - The GORCA team is planning to start the trek home today. They are looking forward to warmth, pizza and beer. It has been three weeks of zero-temps and tent-bound days and nights, time now to return to the comfort world.
No update from Paul yet to see if he was able to summit on 6/2.
Andy flew home on 6/2 and was in his own bed by 2 a.m. on 6/3. My knee is still swollen - may see an orthopedist. Peter was scheduled to fly home on a redeye, leaving Anchorage at 1 a.m. and getting to Salt Lake on 6/3.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Andy and Peter
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Last night they choked down an awful freeze-dried dinner of chicken and dumplings. They brought 6 days of food with them, but hope it will be extra. They slept reasonably well.
Peter summited yesterday and headed down today to 14,000 where he will meet up with Andy and they will hike out together.
Paul started out with Peter, but got cold hands and for safety turned back. He plans to go up with the other 3 tommorrow, weather permitting. Today is a beautiful day so they considered going for the summit today, but they were all tired due to the trip yesterday and we hope for another day of good weather tommorrow. Packs will be as light as possible on the way to the top.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
#3. In twenty words, or less, explain the phenomenon of the Steve Vortex.__________________________________________
It's very windy again. Peter & Paul are hunkered down at 17,000, they couldn't attempt the summit today. The other 4 are getting blasted by 50mph winds with horizontal snow. Steve & George reinforced the snow wall, while Andy and Ben made dinner. It was fair(?)as Steve and George needed exercise, since they didn't join Andy and Ben on their foray up to 15,000. Andy was very happy to make the trip; viewing camp from above was really cool; plus he enjoyed having "Shelley" tape up his knee. Thursday will be another "rest" day; they hope to go to 17,000 on Friday. The weather looks better through Monday.
There is an Italian group who is hoping to set the speed record for climbing Denali. They have people and tents set up at each camp (although their tent at 17,000 blew away) and one guy with minimal gear hopes to climb form the start to the top in 10 hours with their support. Sounds really insane to me.
Happy 70th Birthday to Mrs. Naxera, from your son and everyone else at 14,000 feet!!!
Ben sends his love to Bobbi for their anniversary this Saturday!!!
Answers: The balaclava. The Steve Vortex: the phenomenon where all lost items seem to make their way to Steve's corner of the tent.
In summary, all are fine but going a bit stir crazy. Danielle
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
What items belong in a sleeping bag?
a. 2 water bottles
b. 1 thermos
c. 2 boot liners
d. nasal spray
e. pee bottle
f. Ipod and head phones
j. wet socks
k. all of the above
Andy, Steve, Ben and George are all resting in camp today. Peter and Paul stayed up at 17,000 last night and tried today to go for the summit today but were turned back due to high winds.
Most important gear of the day is a zipper. Apparently this was a big focus of Ben's day. No further details of the issue, save to say all is working well.
The team got a bunch of food from the climbing for Christ group so it has been like Halloween( Isn't that a heathen holiday) ; they have eaten well.
Andy has been tremendous moral support. All are feeling well. They are waiting on better weather and feel they are well positioned if they get a break in the weather.
After speaking with Danielle, I got information from the satellite phone company- they had used 115 minutes as of 5 days ago. They had initally purchased 250 minutes. Anticipating that they may still have had about 70 to 100 minutes left, I purchased an additional 150 minutes, to leave them plenty so as not to worry about each call.
P.S. Trivia Quiz answer: k
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Andy is planning to stay in camp. Steve and Ben are feeling strong and they are all acclimating.
They are working with the other team of 3 and also have become aquainted with some other teams up on the mountain. Some bartering is going on.
Tomorrow they hope to take up a carry to the next level.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
For those who asked- the nurse's name is Shelley and she is a "sweetie" per Andy.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Steve and Ben went to 13,200 feet to retreive the cache they had left there. Andy stayed in camp today. He did go to the medical tent and flirted with the nurse as well as being checked out. He is safe. The back is better and apparently fine; the knee is swollen and may not be fine. At this point, there are several days to determine plans for Andy and the rest of the team. One day at a time. R&R day tomorow.
They are all tired, but in a good mood; Andy said "you couldn't ask for better team mates!"
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
They have reorganized and have left a bunch of extra food to decrease the weight for tomorrow's trip up to leave a cache at 13,200 around windy corner. They are on schedule as planned.
They had a good burrito dinner and a large greasy breakfast of bacon and eggs. Even Andy ate the bacon!
" One day at a time" per Steve.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
No major problems encountered.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
On Friday at 8 a.m., we take a land shuttle to Talkeetna, arriving at around 11 a.m. We'll register with the National Park Service and go to the required orientation. Then we'll head to the Talkeetna Air Taxi and stay in their overnight facility (where we can leave our non-climbing gear).
Assuming the weather is good, on Saturday, we will fly on the Talkeetna Air Taxi to the base camp, landing at 7,200 feet on the glacier. If we land early enough, we will travel that same day with all of our gear to camp 1 at 7,800 ft (about 5 miles).
The latest date we need to be back at base camp is June 10 to catch our flight home from Anchorage on June 12. Hopefully, we will have good weather and beat that date by up to a week.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
"We are at Camp 2 today, taking a rest day. At some point today, we will go down to cache at 10,000, but return to Camp 2 for the evening. And tomorrow, we will head for Windy Corner and make another carry.
Everybody is doing excellent, and the team's spirits are high. The bad weather never came, and although it was overcast today, the skies have been blue and sunny. Yesterday we ate a hearty breakfast of cereal and bars, and had some pasta for dinner. The team worked like clockwork to put together camp last night, and we are completely on schedule. This morning, we really relaxed by cooking a big dish of eggs and hasbrowns, and we all slept in late.
Overall, the conditions are great here - the lower Kahiltna is in incredible shape, compared to last year when there were four serious crevasse falls. This year, the snow has really set up well on the glacier."
Saturday, April 26, 2008
For the first two weeks in April, Andy dried industrial quantities of veggies in a food dehydrator that his mother-in-law, Laurette, bought for his birthday. Altogether, Andy dried 12 lbs of onions; 6 lbs each of mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, carrots, zuccini, potatoes, and eggplant; and 3 lbs each of celery and corn. After drying, a full produce bag of mushrooms, for example, fit in 1/4 of a quart zip lock bag.In mid-April, Ben flew up to Portland for a long weekend to pack food and climb Mt. Hood with Steve (Andy had to work). We made 6 different dinners (3 of each) for 18 days to be eaten at 14,000 ft. or below, and we bought 7 days of freeze dried dinners for high camp. Breakfasts alternate between hot and cold cereal, breakfast bars and "greasy breakfast" for rest days (powdered eggs, dried potatoes and onions, and bacon - all fried in Crisco). Lunches alternate between peanut butter & honey, turkey salami, and lunch bars/GORP. In addition, we have soup, various drinks and treats. When we checked out of the grocery store, the cashier told us we were his "career high" order - about $1,000.
Here are the dinner main courses:
We took everything to Steve's basement, layed it out on tables, and started assembling. We removed all packaging and combined all ingredients for a meal into one or two zip lock bags. We then grouped three meals for each day into a larger bag and labeled everything. That way, when we take a carry to a higher camp, we'll know for sure we have the right number and type of meals. Our goal was 2 lbs/person/day, and we came in right on budget.
Here is what the meals look like assembled. We will mail the food, stoves and empty fuel containers to Talkeetna so we don't have to deal with security restrictions on the airlines.
Since we are going without a guide service, we had to provide all of the group gear and personal gear. Steve and Ben already had a lot of the personal gear from their previous trips to Denali, but Andy had to start from scratch. Luckily, he was able to borrow some of the most expensive gear (extreme temperature sleeping bag, down parka) from Mark Morford, who climbed the mountain in 2004.
Here is the list of group gear and personal gear for the climb. A few things will change, but this is pretty close. The price tag was several thousand dollars each.
Andy has had Denali on his list for a long time, but Steve's attempt in 2005 really focused his attention on the mountain. He set a goal of climbing Denali in 2008 to celebrate his 50th birthday. Some of Andy's other notable climbs include Mt. Shasta (California, Avalanche Gulch, 1993 & 1995), Mt. Hood (Oregon, South Side, 5 times from 1994-2007), Mt. Jefferson (Oregon 1993), Mt. Rainier (Washington, Disapointment Cleaver, 1994 with Steve), Everest foothills to 18,000 ft. (Nepal, 1997), Mt. Kenya (Kenya, 2000), Mt. Kilamanjaro (Tanzania, Machame route, 2000), Glacier Peak (Washington, Sitkum Glacier, 2003 with Steve), North Sister (Oregon, NW Ridge, 2007 with Steve), Mt. Stuart (Washington, West Ridge, 2007 with Steve), and the Zanskar range to 16,000 ft. (India, 2007). Andy's wife, Danielle Erb, was also on many of these climbs. The picture was taken on the way up Mt. Stuart (August, 2007).
Ben is from San Diego, California. Ben has attempted Denali twice before - with a guide company in 2005 and on a non-guided trip in 2006. In both cases, a combination of weather and team mate problems prevented him from reaching the summit, although he did spend an incredible 10 days in a storm at high camp (17,000 ft.)! Some of Ben's other climbs include the Sierra Nevada range (California, multiple routes including winter climbs from 2000 to 2006), Mt. Rainier (Washingon, Disapointment Cleaver, 2004), and Pico de Orizaba (Mexico, 2005).
In addition to our team, we'll be climbing with a second team called GAP, which consists of George Naxera, Paul Elwell and Peter Gram. We hope to climb within site of each other for safety and flexibility.
Though he is from the Midwest, George is very passionate about climbing. He has climbed 23 state high points and plans to climb all 50. He has also climbed 2 of the 7 summits to date, and hopes to do all 7. George has climbed numerous snow covered or glaciated peaks in the US, including Whitney, Elbert, Rainier, Gannett, and Hood. He climbed Aconcagua in December 2005 (South America’s highest point) and Kilimanjaro in February 2007 (Africa’s highest point). He is also on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Mountaineering Club.
This is George on the summit of Aconcagua. Here's a link to his Denali trip report: http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/399039/Denali-Expedition-2008-Daily-Updates.html
This is Paul. Here's a link to Paul's web site: http://www.paulelwell.net/
Peter Gram enjoys mountaineering, and has climbed internationally on Aconcagua, Peru, Ecuador's volcanoes, the Mexican volcanoes, and in the Alps. In the states, Peter has climbed over 100 peaks above 13,000 feet. Other outdoor interests include rock climbing and ice climbing. On rock, Peter has climbed big wall routes such as the Salathe Wall and Lurking Fear on El Capitan, and several walls in Zion National Park.
This is Peter on the summit of Mt. Shasta in February 2008.
Our teams met on Mt. Shasta in February 2008 to get to know each other and to practice rope travel and crevasse rescue. We benefited from Ben's previous experiences on the mountain - he showed us more efficient ways to set up our gear and travel when roped up. Here we are hauling sleds on Mt. Shasta. Front row, left to right: Ben, Peter and George. Back row: Steve, Andy and two additional climbers who are not going to Denali. Paul had not yet joined the group.Everyone has been training hard since January, and we all feel like we are ready. In addition to working out at the gym, Steve and Andy have been going on steep hikes (4-5,000 ft.) in the snow, with progressively heavier packs. For extra weight, we each add 5+ gallons (40+ lbs) of water to our packs, bringing them to a total of 60-70 lbs. To save our knees, we dump the water at the top before hiking down. Danielle captured the water dumping ritual on video.
Friday, April 25, 2008
There are more than 30 routes up Denali - some extremely technical. Denali's most used route - and the one that our team will follow - is the West Buttress (80% of all climbs). More than 20,000 climbers have attempted the West Buttress, of which about half reached the summit. In 1997, there were 257 teams on the West Buttress, with 1,099 climbers. Of these, 150 teams and 513 climbers reached the summit.
We will be leaving for Alaska on May 15th, 2008, and we've planned about a month for the trip. The following is our approximate climbing schedule, which will vary depending on weather and how we feel.
Day -1: Meet in Anchorage. Final shopping and packing.
Day 0: Travel to Talkeetna and fly to the glacier. We'll travel overland to Talkeetna and register with the National Park service.
Day 1: Fly to the glacier and move to camp 1 (7,770 ft.). If the weather permits, we will fly into the Kahiltna Glacier (base camp) with the Air Taxi and travel to camp 1 near the junction with the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, about 5 miles. We plan to move all of our gear in one carry, with heavy packs and pulling sleds.
Day 9: Rest day.