Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It's been a month since my last post and several people have asked what's up with the blog? I've been keeping myself busy getting ready for my Denali (Mount McKinley) trip. I leave in 7 weeks and still have so much to prepare for. Physical training has been a non-stop activity for the past several months. For example, this past weekend I hauled a 60 lb pack up Mount Defiance, ran the 8 mile Maple-Wildwood loop and then attempted to climb Mount Hood. We got turned around on Hood at around 10,500 feet on the Hogsback due to complete whiteout conditions and freezing rain. My Denali team has been meeting monthly for over a year to work out logistics, develop teamwork and improve technical skills.

Gear purchasing for Denali has been non-stop as well. Even though I have an enormous pile of climbing equipment most of it is for the relatively warm temperatures of climbing in the PNW. I've had to purchase a whole new set of clothing able to keep me warm at temperatures down to 40 below zero. The route we are climbing (West Buttress) is not very technical so fortunately I haven't had to purchased much technical climbing gear. However, I have added a bunch of expedition quality gear - tent, stove, backpack, etc - to my ever growing pile.

I'm very excited about this expedition. It will be by far the most difficult challenge I've ever taken on. Besides climbing a 20,320 foot mountain, we're snow camping from the moment we get off the plane. Every drop of water has to be melted from snow. Every piece of gear and food for 4 weeks is carried on our backs. Daytime temperatures hover around freezing. Nighttime temperatures can dip to 40 below zero. Winds can shred an unprotected tent instantly and storms can keep you trapped in camp for days on end.

We're planning for a 4 week trip but hope to be finished in 3 weeks. We fly to Anchorage on June 2nd and then take a shuttle to Talkeetna. Weather permitting we fly onto the Kahiltna Glacier on June 3rd. After a series of intermediary camps we hope to reach High Camp at 17,200 feet on June 16th where we have a week of possible summit bids. Our return flight to Portland is July 1st. If we finish early we could possibly climb something else in the area, explore Alaska or return home early.

We're looking into the possibility of making real time updates of our climb. This might be just text messages or could include some photos. I'll post something when I know more. Of course when I return I'll have the full blown LLC Report to share.

Anyway, that's all for now...