Back in Talkeetna!

Post by blogger | June 19, 2010      

It was like some kind of military operation this afternoon. To the cheers of over a hundred climbers, some of whom had been stranded for five days, dozens of bush planes began landing at Kahiltna base, plucking us off like they were harvesting Alaskan salmon (which is probably what most of the pilots were doing this morning, before a little bit of glacier flying, ho hum).

Kahiltna Glacier from the air.

Kahiltna Glacier from the air.

Flying the Kahiltna Glacier, this area is probably about 5 miles wide, still a ways from the toe.

Flying the Kahiltna Glacier, this area is probably about 5 miles wide, still a ways from the toe. Now you know why the Park Service doesn't really worry too much about a few climbers going to the bathroom on this thing, for a few weeks a year.

Lucky for Louie and I, we got a flight on a souped up Cessna 185, and the pilot opted to fly out the fulll 30 or so mile length of the Kahiltna Glacier down from our location, then make a left turn to Talkeetna. I think out of a lifetime of adventure, and even beyond the flight in to Denali, this has to be the highlight of my experience with mountaineering aviation. The crevasse fields; the toe of the glacier and resulting rivers; scale so gigantic it again felt like a fantasy novel rather than reality.

To top it off we had to loft over a lower mountain range, through a wall of clouds. The bush ace banked it over, punched through, and nonchalantly stated “when you can see light on the other side of the clouds, you know it’ll work.” I had to take a deep breath just now, even thinking about it…

Lou and Louie flying out from Denali.

Lou and Louie flying out from Denali. The question is, should the old man keep the Grizzly Adams look? And how do you like those glacier glasses and nose guard? High style on Denali, anyway.


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12 Responses to “Back in Talkeetna!”

  1. Deb and Dave June 19th, 2010 12:07 pm

    Truly amazing accomplishments and super photos. We followed your summit on SPOT and we were cheering all the way. Thanks for the shot of Caleb on the summit. Have a safe journey HOME and love to all.

  2. tal June 19th, 2010 10:37 pm

    Congrats fellas!!

    Since you are out, and now truly done, go ring the bell tonight…and treat yourself to a full standard tomorrow morning….you’ve earned it!!

  3. Franklin Pillsbury June 20th, 2010 5:14 am

    Very neat post.Love your play by play!! I like the GRIZ look. If you are up to it.I would like to do a live interview with you on my “Lets Go Outdoors Texas” radio show next Saturday.
    Cool that you guys are having a wonderful setting for Fathers Day.
    I am going over to East Texas to Frank & Sues.

  4. Lou June 20th, 2010 12:16 pm

    And a testimony to 50 and 100 block sunscreen! You do not have to come back from Denali looking like you have leprosy of the face.

  5. Geoff and Lindy June 20th, 2010 1:41 pm

    Happy Father’s Day, Lou! Thanks for being with all of the guys!

  6. Njord June 20th, 2010 9:46 pm

    Nothing like “punching-in” in mountainous terrain… great way to get killed!!

    (and this is from a guy who just crashed a helicopter this week)

  7. Franklin Pillsbury June 21st, 2010 3:39 am

    Would you be avalable next Saturday for a Radio Interview on our Show?

  8. tap dawson June 21st, 2010 9:11 am

    Go Grizzly all the way! And Happy Fathers Day!

  9. Lou June 22nd, 2010 7:28 pm

    I’ll be interested in your show, but have to wait till I’m back in Carbondale as we’ll be on road through Yukon etc. pretty soon and phone connections will be spotty. Stay in touch and ask again.
    Thanks, Lou

  10. Franklin Pillsbury June 22nd, 2010 8:06 pm

    will do…..have a safe drive

  11. Sheldon Air July 13th, 2010 3:56 pm

    Hi Lou! So happy you enjoyed our little town of Talkeetna! Flying is by far one of the BEST excursions, especially when the weather is good 🙂 You really develop a newfound perspective and appreciation for life and nature… Next time your in town we would love to take you up! SHELDON AIR is the ONLY local and family owned and operated Air taxi in Talkeetna! Go with the local guys not the corporate big wigs! We have two Bush Pilots with over 30 years of experience and more than 30 years of stories to keep you laughing and having fun on a one of a kind flying experience! If the Sheldon name doesn’t say enough….GOOGLE us haha

    Hope to see you on your next trip LOU!!!! P.s we have a Cessna 185 and a Dehavilland Beaver! 907-733-2321

  12. Lou July 13th, 2010 4:16 pm

    Hey Sheldon Air,
    Since you’re the real Alaskan deal we’ll let your PR comment stand (grin). TAT worked out pretty well and we were happy with them, but we just as easily could have gone with you, and if we come up there again it’ll be a hard choice! Keep up the good work.


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