Saturday, April 26, 2008

Our Team - ORCA

Our team consists of Steve Evans, Andy Ginsburg and Ben Barlin. We named our team ORCA, for Oregon (Andy and Steve) and California (Ben).

Steve and Andy have been climbing together since they met in 1989. They met though their wives, Sally Niles and Danielle Erb, who have known each other since they began medical school in 1982. Both couples live in Portland, Oregon. The picture above is Steve and Andy winter camping on Mt. Hood, Oregon (2007).

Steve has a (loose) goal of going to the high points of all 50 States - some are easy (Kansas) and some are hard (Alaska). He attempted Denali in 2005 with a guide company, and got as high as 16,000 ft. Unfortunately, the other clients dropped out one-by-one due to fatigue, illness, blisters and loss of will. Although Steve was in top shape and ready to go on, the guides decided to take the group down. Needless to say, he was disappointed and swore off climbing with guides.

Some of Steve's other notable climbs include Pico de Orizaba and Popocapatepetl (Mexico, 1982, third and fifth highest peaks in North America), Mt. Baker (Washington, Coleman Deming Glacier, 1983 & 1984), Mt. Hood (Oregon, 16 times by various routes from 1991-2008), Mt. Rainier (Washingon, Disapointment Cleaver 1994 & Emmons Glacier 1997) Glacier Peak (Washington, Sitkum Glacier, 2003), Mt. Stuart (Washington, West Ridge, 2007), North Sister (Oregon, NW Ridge, 2007), and all of the other Cascade volcanoes (Washington, Oregon & California, 1981-2003). The picture is looking at Middle Sister on the way up North Sister (June, 2007).

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:

This is Paul. Here's a link to Paul's web site:

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.


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