WildSnow Road Trip and Denali Climb Factoids

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 5, 2010      

Some of you Wildsnowers are probably wondering when we’re going to quit blogging about Denali, as in ‘enough already!’ We’ve got some summary posts coming up I think you’ll all like, then that’ll be it other than the occasional gear review or retrospective. Here is one of the summations for your intellectual edification.

Number of RV parks used: 9.

Number of RV parks kicked out of: 1

Amount of diesel burned to AK and back: 850 gallons.

At the Golden Nugget RV Park in Anchorage, review.

At the Golden Nugget RV Park in Anchorage. We spread our Denali expedition gear around during organization, and they kicked us out for being too messy. That was a surprise, as you should see the junked cars over by the grungy bathrooms, and I thought I was going to catch a disease in the shower; it made the slit trench latrine up on the Kahiltna look like paradise. What's more, they were running a road grader along the dusty gravel where we and others were camped, which totally amazed me. Yeah, even though the view of the Chugach is nice, not recommended. We stayed in a lot of other RV parks from Anchorage to Colorado, every single one was nicer.

Gallons of white gas fuel used on mountain: 10 1/2.

Pounds of pre-cooked bacon carried on mountain: 28.

Estimated number of near-miss crevasse falls during trip: 3.

Estimated vertical skied downhill on Denali by the WildSnow expedition: 168,200 feet.

Golden Nugget Anchorage

OK, to be fair, this is more what we looked like at the Golden Nugget RV park. But still, couldn't they stand a bit of baggage along with the road grader and abandoned vehicles?

Total amperage of inverters and voltage converters used in truck cab: 120.

How many times 2,600 lb. cargo trailer was disconnected, spun by hand and pushed uphill to make a U-turn: 1

Number of Forest Service roads driven with Caleb riding on camper roof to defend antennas and vent covers from tree branches: 1.

Number of hiphop tunes injected by Jordan into the innocent aux input of the Silverado: 37

Footage of wire used to build electrical patch cable from under hood back to camper: 24.

Amount of hand sanitizer used on mountain: 1 gallon.

Estimated crankcharger revolutions of Eton music player while on mountain: 158,400.

Number of extra gallons of diesel burned because of Garmin Nuvi bad directions: 30.

Number of miles one-lane Forest Service road suggested and then driven due to Garmin Nuvi: 50.

Times GPS used on glacier to find route: 1.

Beers poured out in Whistler parking lot due to visit from local constabulary: 2.

Number of ski poles bent or broken by the WildSnow crew: 2.

Number of hours spent by Lou writing and sending blog dispatches from the mountain: 43.

Cell phone minutes used on mountain: ZERO, ye hah!

Satphone minutes used on mountain: 609, ho hum…

Number of PBRs consumed at Kahitna Base: 36.

Number of PBRs we should have cached at Kahiltna Base: 136.

Number of animals actually requiring use of truck brakes: 8.

Number of moose that could have aborted trip: 3.

Pounds of sockeye caught: 120.

Number of inflatable pad repairs while on Denali: 1.

Number of Denny’s stops before squatting that rabbit: 1.

Talkeetna Roadhouse eggs consumed by expediton: 63.

Max speed achieved on ATV in AK bush: 52 mph.

Number of helmets worn on ATVs in AK bush: 0.

Leg strength lost by Lou during drive north: 20 %.

Number of pink fur handcuffs on expedition: 1.

Number of times pink handcuff ownership has been covertly transferred: 35.

Number of times pink handcuff transfer was requested: 1.

Number of hours spent listening to Coast to Coast AM: 12.

Best thing heard on Coast to Coast radio: “If it’s not an act of God it’s a conspiracy.”

Weight of skis in trailer: 120 lbs.

Number of nights Caleb and Jordan spent sleeping outside: 48.

Number of days it rained at night while on the road trip: 12.

Biggest ripoff according to Lou: XM Radio in Alaska.

Biggest ripoff according to Caleb and Jordan: $55 24-pack of Molson bought in Whitehorse.

Depth of pee hole at Kahltna Base Camp: Unknown, but you couldn’t hear it hit bottom.

Width of pee hole at Kahiltna Base Cam: One average man’s shoulders.

Number of times Lou used his pee bottle: 72

Number of times Caleb used his pee bottle: 8

Most dangerous crevasse on Kahiltna glacier: Base Camp pee hole.

Number of pages Plutarch read by Louie on his Nook: 970.

Name of the woman that causes the boys to cringe the most: Karen.

Name of voice on Garmin Nuvi: Karen.

Number of girls picked up in bar by single boys on trip: zero.

Number of dudes picked up in bar by single boys on trip: 1.

Number of guns owned by above dude: 16.

States and provinces driven through: 10.

Years between Denali summits for Lou: 37.

Prayers prayed by Lou during 2010 trip: 87.

Number of men at 14,200 foot camp while we were there: 180.

Number of women at 14,200 foot camp while we were there: 20.

Crampons lost on mountain then returned to Lou by good Samaritan from Massachusetts: 1

Number of ice tool placements Park Service volunteer ranger used to climb out of new pit toilet at 14,200 foot camp: 14.

Number of Walmart/Fred-Meyer stops during road trip: 14.

Turns made on West Buttress headwall by Lou: 47.

Turns made on West Buttress headwall by Tyler: 12.

Number of turns it takes to unscrew lid of CMC container: 4.

Number of Denali related WildSnow blog posts to date: 82.

Anything else our esteemed WildSnow commenters want to know?

(Some of the above are close approximations and estimates.)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


24 Responses to “WildSnow Road Trip and Denali Climb Factoids”

  1. Tony July 5th, 2010 12:36 pm


    Second time I requested this, the last might have been buried in an old blog.

    Could you talke about perscription eye correction used by your crew on the Denali expedition as well as on other overnight backcountry excursions?

    I use disposable lenses, and sleep with them on if its only a day or two. If the trip is longer than that, I bring a new pair for every day (if I am going light) or store them in a case with all purpose solution overnight.

    I am staying away from laser eye surgery because I hear it can aggravte dryness in your eyes, and I already have dry eyes, as well as the rare possiblity of other side effects.


  2. Lou July 5th, 2010 1:02 pm

    Hi Tony, I was hoping Louie would get on that, but he left today on a short fishing trip to the high country… I’ll make a note and put it on his desk. He really messes around with stuff a lot, so he’d be good for some answers. Caleb got the laser surgery and sings praises up and down, so I wouldn’t discount it totally. Louie is interested as well.

    Thanks for reminding me about this issue, as it is indeed important.

  3. Mark W July 5th, 2010 1:07 pm

    I was also wondering about corrective lens and eye surgery issues addressed by members of the esteemed Denali crew. I’ve had corrective lenses of various types since about age six. I like using prescription glacier glasses, but they aren’t the perfect solution.

  4. Lee July 5th, 2010 1:21 pm

    With 20 women at base camp I think you didn’t take enough pink fur handcuffs.

  5. Lou July 5th, 2010 1:47 pm


  6. Charlie H July 5th, 2010 1:53 pm

    Hey Lou and company – your blogging about this trip has been the best thing I have ever read on WildSnow. Great job on the mountain and your crew’s success shows how important it is to be fully prepared and have tested your gear before the trip. And certainly you guys were in great physical shape which allowed you to skip the 17,000 camp.

  7. Lou July 5th, 2010 1:59 pm

    Thanks Charlie! Doing this has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life as a writer. My only regret is I would have liked to have done more in-depth writing up there, but one has to climb, eat, sleep and stuff like that (grin).

    Thanks also to Caleb and Jordan, along with ground folks Nick, Lisa, Mark, Dave for keeping the site humming along. Without them this whole deal never would have worked.

    Also, don’t forget the WildSnow advertisers, without whom this NEVER would have happened.

  8. Caleb Wray July 5th, 2010 2:27 pm


    I wore glasses and gas permeable contacts from age 10 to 28. I climbed, skied, and took many extended backcountry sojourns with them, including a 23 day trip up the West Butt. At 28 I finally had enough money to get laser eye surgery, so I did it. Best thing I ever did for my eyes. 5 years later, not a glitch, in fact I can’t even remember what it was like to live any other way. I got the custom PRK surgery which is a little more invasive, but the long terms studies that were starting to come in at the time indicated fewer side effects and better long term success. So I have nothing but praise.

  9. Halsted July 5th, 2010 6:25 pm

    How fast did it take to burn your underware on the Talkeetna runway? :blink:

  10. John S July 5th, 2010 7:16 pm

    I for one am NOT tired of the Denali posts!! They’ve given me some ideas about improving our own ski mountaineering trips. I love to hear about all the little things that worked/failed. Also, as the father of an 11 year old skier/rock-climber that begins mountaineering this summer, I cheered for Lou & Louie to summit together. AWESOME!

  11. Jim July 5th, 2010 8:01 pm

    Still love to hear more analysis after the trip on strategies that worked, that didn’t, the social dynamic scene on mountain in group and out of group, gear (of course) , training and recovery tactics. Thanks.


  12. Omr July 5th, 2010 10:54 pm

    My wife likes the 20-180 odds at 14.2. Made me laugh till I clued in to her meaning. I’m slow even at 4700 ft.

  13. Franklin Pillsbury July 6th, 2010 4:59 am

    What was your “tow rig” with the camper…and how did the “utility” trailer hold up ??

  14. Lou July 6th, 2010 7:04 am

    Oh, don’t worry you guys, more Denali stuff is coming!

    Franklin, it’s the Silverado Duramax 2009 and an Eagle Cap camper. The truck is awesome, the camper has had some bugs that I since corrected. Lesson learned. I’m told that nearly all RVs come out of the factory less than 100% in terms of finish and component performance. Key is to use thoroughly before warranty expires, and be diligent in working with dealer to get things fixed in a professional manner. Sometime a bug has a hidden advantage in that it identifies something that could be improved or upgraded.

  15. Njord July 6th, 2010 8:32 am

    +1 for PRK. I had the procedure done in 2000, and still have 20/10 vision! No dryness issues, but I am a little more sensitive to bright sunlight (which gives me an excuse to wear sunglasses ALL the time!)


  16. joe July 6th, 2010 8:58 am

    Tony, my story is very similar to Caleb’s. Custom wavefront PRK at age 26 after a decade wearing glasses and contacts. Best medical decision I have made by far. No issues with halos or dry eye, and no contacts in the tent! It will save me money as well over the long run.

  17. George July 6th, 2010 4:07 pm


    Being much closer to your age than your son’s I have a question or 2 relating to fitness. You mentioned about hip pain and past injuries which impacted your performance on some of the slogs to the 14.2K camp. Did you experience the same level of discomfort during your training days under load or was the cumulative effect of daily hard efforts the issue? I recall reading about your Highland Bowl avy experience with resultant broken bones in your youth so just wondering.


  18. Ari July 6th, 2010 6:55 pm

    While I’ve loved all the posts, I think this one paints the best picture of the trip! It’s all the little things that make trips like this such an adventure. Thanks for all the great reading!

  19. Lou July 6th, 2010 7:14 pm

    Ari, thanks, it actually took a bit of work to get this one up and running. Caleb, Jordan and Louie had a hand in it as well as me. I like it too! Brings back good memories!

  20. Lou July 6th, 2010 7:24 pm

    George, during some of the training I was in pain, but I was taking the right number of rest days and taking a lot more anti inflamatories so it wasn’t that bad. While on the mountain I totally quit Celebrex as it gives me an irregular heartbeat which could be scary or dangerous at altitiude, and I cut back on the Ibu and aspirin because of potential stomach or other side effects. The lack of rest days and the dehydration exacerbated things. Careful training is about getting enough rest and not making injuries worse, so I was being super careful for the months leading up to the trip, and did get quite strong, though I lost a ton of strength during the drive up, which was one of the bigger disappointments of the expedition as I was planning on giving Jordan a run for his money on some of the carries (just kidding). Seriously though, the lack of strength affected my downhill skiing quite a bit as well, and I was definitely not skiing up to my own standards during most of the descents. Overall, really really hard for a guy my age to include a ski descent in the mix for a Denali climb, but other guys in my age group have done it, so it can be done. Training hard then flying up there is what I’d recommend, or do a lot more working out on the way up if you drive. I was also concerned about the lack of acclimation after driving so much near sea level, but the double carries and rest days pretty much take care of getting enough acclimation, if you’re careful. Nonetheless, it would be cool to go live in Leadville, Colorado and climb 14ers for two weeks before flying up there, then jump on the glacier that acclimated and go up to the 14,000 foot camp as quickly as possible. Fantasy, anyway. Lou

  21. Jonathan L July 7th, 2010 1:31 am

    Gas permeable hard contacts for… around 33 years. Opticus custom lenses (polarized, transitional and photochromatic) for Julbo Explorers. While no attempts at Denali I’ve done some Haute Route and Kili with this set up. Retinal detachment runs in the family, a little concerned about any eye surgery.

    I will offer a A+ for Opticus. They were wildly expensive and worth every penny. One of the all time best gear purchase I have ever made. And I have given Dynafit the price of a decent used car.

    For whatever it’s worth. before Kili I borrowed a hypoxic tent for 6 weeks and was sleeping at 13K for a week before we left. As I live at 1K, this was an amazing toy. We flew up the Western Breach, skipped a camp and did the summit a day early. Healthy. And happy. Ran into a a guy in full HACE on the way down. Scary stuff.

    Rock on, Lou.

  22. doug self July 7th, 2010 8:24 am

    so, what’s the story on this guy your group picked up with all those guns? is that why you prayed 87 times?

  23. Lou July 7th, 2010 8:40 am

    Hi Doug, yeah, when the boys took off on those ATVs off into the AK bush, I prayed more than once!

    Seriously, what happens up there is you do meet these crazy Alaskans who want to show you their lifestyle. This guy took the boys out to his property outside of town, where he regaled them with stories about grizzly bear attacks and Alaskan politics.

    Don’t want to compromise the guy’s privacy so we’ve not gone into details. Like I said, he owns lots of guns and doesn’t hesitate to use them (grin).

  24. tony July 7th, 2010 10:52 am

    Jonathan L., what do you do when you have to use googles and glasses on the same day? It doesn’t seem practical to put contacts in or out on a summit, and I haven’t heard too many good things about perscription goggles, and that really limits your goggle choices also.

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