Saturday, May 31, 2008

17,000 foot camp

Call from Steve this morning. Steve , Ben, and George made it up to 17,000 yesterday after a very hard carry. They picked up the cache at 16,300 on the way, so packs were verry heavy.
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

The team splits

When Andy called this morning, Peter and Paul were heading up to the summit. GORCA (Steve, Ben and George) were heading to high camp (17,000). Andy is feeling really good, but they all decided that it was safer if he did not go for high camp. Even though his knee is a lot better, the headwall is very steep and strenuous, and there is no margin for error. Also, since he was unable to take a cache up to 16,300 when the others did, his load would be unrealistically heavy. He is a little disappointed but safety comes first. GORCA may be able to summit by Sunday or Monday. Andy hopes to join Peter and Paul as they descend and come home earlier.


May 29th update delayed blog entry

Steve called last night with news of plans and little else. Ben, George and Steve are planning to go to 17,000 foot camp today. Paul and Peter are hoping to go to the summit. Weather is looking better for today. The weekend may remain windy, but predictions are better on Monday.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Steve Vortex

Quiz #2. The essential piece of gear for the day is:
a. tent?
b. tape?
c. balaclava?

#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

Hanging out in camp

Trivia quiz question of the day.

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
g. batteries
h. camera
i. booties
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

There is something to be said for youth!

Team GAP is now PP and ORCA has become GORCA. Today Paul and Peter, both in their 20's, decided to go from 14,200 to 17,000 in one carry. PP will then go for the summit tomorrow and then spend a few days at 17,000 waiting out the next storm. George, who is closer to 50, has joined Steve and Ben. Today they did a carry to 16,300 and returned to 14,200. The snow was frozen and it was hard work just getting their crampons to grip. They did well but are exhausted. They'll wait until Wed. or Thurs. to pick up their cache on their way to 17,000, then rest one day, do the summit, rest at 17,000 again, and then rejoin Andy at 14,200. By then Andy will know everyone at camp and he'll have taught them all the nifty ways one could rewire their house or the wonders of the CatGenie!!!! His knee is still swollen, but he can walk ok. The medics will tape it before they come down.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Except for the cold, the weather is unpredictable.

Steve called at 7pm. He and Ben as well as the other team of 3 started up to take a carry to 16,000 feet. The weather looked as if it was getting worse, so they turned around. Now it is beautiful! It is very cold, 20 below last night.

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

Playing Cards at 14,200 ft.

There is a significant storm; at 14,200 the winds are 40mph, but at 17,000 and above they are 90-110mph, therefore they are staying put for a few days. Also, they expect 6 inches of snow and a chilly 5 below tonight. They have enough food to wait out this storm, but it may last until Thursday. If there is a break in the weather they'll take a cache up to 16,300. This next part is very steep, a 50 degree slope with fixed lines. Andy's back is fine and his knee is improving but considering he'll still have to hike out he's pretty sure that he won't make it to the summit. He hopes to be able to go to 16,300. They are happy and relatively warm in their tent. Dinner was a scrumptous fried bagel with turkey salami and cheese! Steve is losing the card game of hearts, but he says that Andy's cheating and Ben's changing the rules.

For those who asked- the nurse's name is Shelley and she is a "sweetie" per Andy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

May 23, 2008

Steve called at 9:30. They are hunkered down at 14,00 feet in the high winds. Weather has warmed today form 20 bleow yesterday to about zero. Tomorrow's high expected to be 15 degrees. The prediction is for several more days of high winds. High winds at 14,000 mean even higher winds at 17,000 feet. So they are likely at this camp for a few more days, which is appropriate given the schedule and need to acclimate.

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.


Thursday- up to 14,000 feet

They have made it to 14,000 ft. It was a hard day for them, especially because Andy is having a hard time with a swollen knee. He decided it was better to go up to 14,000 feet and recuperate there than to hike all the way down to base camp and possibly prevent the rest of the team from summitting. Steve, Ben and the GAP team had to take some of his weight. Andy said "they are animals" and is very appreciative of their help. He used the ice axe and a ski pole to take some weight off of his knee during the climb from 11,000 ft. back up to the cache. At the cache, he picked up his sled which GAP had hauled up for him, and pulled it most of the way to 14,000 ft. When they got to 14,000 ft there were no available snow walls left, so they had to build their own, which took many hours. Andy melted snow and cooked dinner while Steve and Ben built the wall. They got to bed at about midnight. It is about -10 outside and a storm is coming in, so they probably will be at that spot for a number of days. Guess they'll get some reading in and I suspect they'll sleep in tomorrow.

They are all tired, but in a good mood; Andy said "you couldn't ask for better team mates!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hill climbing with sleds

It has been very cold, well below zero each night. It was -5 this morning as they were packing. They hiked up Motorcycle Hill which was quiet long, took a short break then went up Squirrel Hill, which was even steeper. Fortunately it was not windy as they went through Windy Corner. They buried their cache at 13,500 and went back to the camp at 11,000. The 2 teams travelled together today. On the way down, Andy started feeling back and knee pain, and when they got to camp he had a muscle spasm in his lower back with pain radiating down his leg and a swollen knee. They decided to assess the situation in the morning. -Danielle

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Election Day- May 20, 2008

Steve called at 9:30pm. The team is camped at 11,000 feet. They are all in the cook tent sipping tea, almost ready for bed. They all feel good today. It was sunny much of the day and is a little snowy now.

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

Hiking to Camp 2

Sunday night they slept at 7,800. Monday they carried the second half of their gear to Camp 2, passing their cache at 10,500. Today was very hard, especially for Andy. Steve and Ben helped out by carrying some of his weight, later in the day, however after resting for an hour at Camp 2 he regained some energy. He believes the problem was slight dehydration on Sunday. Tuesday they get to sleep in since they only have to hike down 500ft. to get their cache. Wednesday will be difficult as they will haul half their gear up to 13,700 ft. then return to sleep at 11,000. Danielle

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday May 18, 2008, 9 pm

Steve called at 9pm tonight. Weather is good. It got down to zero degrees last night and 2 inches of snow fell last night as well. They are sleeping at the 7800 foot camp tonight, after carrying a large load to 10,500 feet. It was a long but productive day. They are all feeling strong. They are happily ahead of schedule due to arriving ahead onto the mountain. Team ORCA is getting along well and the food is 'mostly' OK. Supplies and equipment are good.
No major problems encountered.



Paul, on the GAP team, will be posting pictures to his website: It is listed below in the second Blog in case this one doesn't work. -Danielle

Saturday, May 17, 2008

They are on the glacier!

On Friday they flew out of Talkeetna towards the glacier and made it through "one shot pass" only to be told to turn around because the runway was fogged in.  They flew back and waited a few hours and at the last minute got the clearance to try again and made it.  They spent Friday night at Base Camp, and Saturday hiked to Camp 1.  They struggled, carrying about 150 pounds each.  Sunday they will carry about half their gear up to 9800 ft.  and then return to Camp 1.  It is about 6 miles round trip with a 3000 foot elevation gain.  The GAP team plans to take all their gear to 9800 ft.  The ORCA team will join them the next night.  Ben has a cold and is improving.  Andy tweaked his back on Friday, but did well today.    Danielle

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Steve and Andy left our house at 5:15 this morning and had great weather to fly to Anchorage. Ben joined them; they rented a car, did their last minute shopping, verified their plans for the land shuttle and decided not to wait up for the GAP team as their flight was not slated to land until 11pm and they were tired. They hope to enjoy their next to last night sleeping in a bed until june 10th!!!!! -Danielle

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The trip starts tomorrow!

After all of this planning and training, its hard to believe that we leave for Alaska tomorrow. Steve and Andy have a 7 a.m. flight out of Portland on Thursday, stopping in Seattle and arriving in Anchorage at 11:30 a.m. Ben arrives at about 11:30 a.m. We'll rent a car, do some last minute shopping and meet the GAP team at a hotel in Anchorage.

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

Current conditions on the mountain

We're leaving for Alaska next Thursday. Conditions on the mountain look good at this point. The following report was called in yesterday morning from a guide (Paul Ivaska) who is leading a group up the West Buttress route:

"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."