Update From WildSnow Denali

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 16, 2010      

Well, a beast of a storm has moved in and the air service may not be flying until Friday. Due to the storm we realized our other sub-goals for the mountain, like skiing some big lines such as Messner or Orient, were not going to happen. That’s the way it goes on Denali; you’re really controlled by the weather and have to accept it. This is one reason only about half of the people who try for the summit make it.

But we’re all of course very satisfied to have planned and executed a trip that got us a summit ski descent of the highest mountain in North America. This especially true for the young guys for whom this was their first Alaskan mountaineering expedition.

Last evening, though still feeling incredibly worked, we descended back down to the 11,500 foot camp. The descent was rather epic, as the storm was blowing 60 mph winds around Windy Corner and Squirrel Point. The winds were so bad and our sleds so difficult that Louie and I finally resorted to crampons and lowered our sleds in front of us down Motorcycle Hill. Luckily we’d already skied that section during a double carry, otherwise I’d be bummed to have skipped one of the classic downhill sections!

Louie and I are being conservative, staying here and hydrating and resting for a few hours before trying to continue down. The other guys have pushed ahead and seem to be doing fine with that. So either style is probably fine. My guess is the air service won’t be flying till Friday, so no hurry, but nothing like a little dose of optimism.
We set up our Hilleberg Nammatj 3 last night in wind resistant mode. Meaning all guy lines taut, rear into the wind. The tent was amazing, as I was told it didn’t need snow block wind walls for this kind of wind (around 40 mph), as they just cause turbulence. Instead, the tent just let the wind slip around it with a low pitched humming sound, no flapping. Truly good stuff.

Nammatj fully depolyed, wind slips around it like, well, you can imagine the metaphors that come to mind after spending a month with 20-something guys. At any rate, it worked great and the weight to usefulness ratio really is good.

Nammatj fully deployed, wind slips around it like, well, you can imagine the metaphors that come to mind after spending a month with 20-something guys. At any rate, it worked great and the weight to usefulness ratio really is good.

WildSnow signing off for now, we’ll try to get down the glacier to the airstrip so we can make that our last camp, but we won’t push it.


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7 Responses to “Update From WildSnow Denali”

  1. Paul Andersen June 16th, 2010 10:35 am


    As a father and husband, also born in 1951, I marvel at your endurance, commitment and terrific relationship with your son. My thoughts also go to Lisa, the stoic mother and wife, and wonder about her process through this incredible climb.


  2. Bill June 16th, 2010 12:38 pm

    Congratulations Lou, louie and team
    What a great blog. Really insping to see.
    Thanks for taking us with you.

  3. andrew C June 16th, 2010 12:50 pm

    Congrats to you, your son and the whole crew Lou. You are inspiring on so many levels. I really appreciate your hauling all the gear that allowed you to stay in touch with your site’s visitors too. Wow. Safe home!


  4. JR Udall June 16th, 2010 2:00 pm

    Spectacular, old dog! And young dog, too!

    We are beaming down here, thinking about you.

    I forwarded something about it to Auden, who has been on the mountain, and
    he wrote back:

    That’s fucking outrageous. You really have to be fit to do that—and or you need to have really acclimatized and then you need great weather, and you also need to strip down your pack, though I guess if you’re not camping at 17, you have less weight. But you need bivy gear if you’re safe. Anyway, when I was up there I was in pretty good shape and the idea of doing that RT from 14 seemed out of reach.

    R Udall

  5. George Reinhardt June 16th, 2010 3:28 pm

    Hello Lou and Louie, congratulations from Crested Butte. Terrific father/son adventure. Waxed a little nostalgic, thinking too bad that RP wasn’t there for a sort of reunion, perhaps he was. It was that last ascent, afterall, when waiting around for RP to return to CB that Pat invited Bobbie and I in for dinner commencing a now 37 year friendship… and counting. Number two son Eric and I are going to Alaska in August to float a river in the Bristol Bay region, likely the Arolik. Coincidentally, I am currently reading “View From the Summit” – Hillary’s autobio and can easily immerse myself in your adventure after reading about his slogs. Glad to see that growing a little long in the tooth hasn’t dampened your excitement for adventure. Well done

  6. Matt Kinney June 16th, 2010 9:42 pm

    Good stuff lou.,,thanks.

  7. daniel June 17th, 2010 2:16 pm


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