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Denali 2004
Trip Report

Denali 2004

 

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Alaska, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 63.06920°N / 151.0036°W

Object Title: Denali 2004

Date Climbed/Hiked: May 26, 2004

 

Page By: kovarpa

Created/Edited: Jun 5, 2004 /

Object ID: 169394

Hits: 4017 

Page Score: 70.59%  - 1 Votes 

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This was my first big mountain (above 15,000 ft). I could not find partners locally (Bay Area, CA) so I hooked up with a couple of people from back home (Czech Republic).

Our itinerary:
May 13, 2004 - meet in Anchorage
May 14, 2004 - transfer to Talkeetna, go through NPS briefing, arrange flight to Kahiltna glacier with TAT
May 15, 2004 - fly to Kahiltna, sleep at Kahiltna base camp, weather turns for worse
May 16, 2004 - move to 7,800 ft at the bottom of Ski Hill. Snow all day, visibility couple hundred feet, winds not too strong
May 17, 2004 - move to 9,800 ft. Snow for most of the day, visibility "from want to wand", sometimes less, I am very grateful I brought a compass
May 18, 2004 - move to 13,500 ft at the bottom of Motorcycle Hill. Poor visibility all the way to Tahiltna Pass. Once making the right turn at Kahiltna Pass, visibility miraculously improves - the view of the glacier and surrounding mountains is spectacular
May 19, 2004 - switch from snowshoes to crampons, double carry around Windy Corner to Basin Camp at 14,200 ft. Great weather.
May 20, 2004 - move from Motorcycle Hill to Basin Camp. Good weather with awesome views turns worse at the end of the climb - wind and snow.
May 21, 2004 - rest day and conveniently also bad weather day
May 22, 2004 - bad weather in the morning turns into crystal clear in the afternoon. From here onwards we climb unroped. Double carry to 17,200 ft. IMO, this is the best climbing day from the whole trip - fun climb along the 16 ridge, spectacular views of Foraker, Hunter and the rest of Alaska Range
May 23, 2004 - rest day and conveniently (again) also bad weather day
May 24, 2004 - move to 17,200 ft. I ascend the Headwall too quickly with my pack being too heavy and fell sick at the notch. This is probably the worst I felt during the whole trip - I have to rest an hour, hydrate and drink. I take it slowly from now onwards - this is probably the difference between climbing in Sierra and bigger ranges....
May 25, 2004 - pick up my tent mate cache at Washburn Thumb on 16 Ridge in the morning. Rest in the afternoon
May 26, 2004 - good weather and therefore a summit day. We start around 10.30, I make the summit at 18.00, then descend a couple hundred vertical feet to meet my tent mate and go back up to take his summit photos (as I promised to him the night before). Second time to summit at 20.30. Back at High camp around midnight.
May 27, 2004 - descend from High camp to Basin camp (14,200)
May 28, 2004 - descend all the way from Basin camp to Kahiltna base. Great views along the lower portion of the glacier which we did not see on the way up because of the whiteout conditions
May 29, 2004 - fly to Talkeetna (it breaks my heart to leave). Have a "summit burger" at West Rib pub - feels like one of the best burger I have ever had.
May 30, 2004 - say goodbye to my teammates, transfer to Anchorage, fly to California. Kiss my wonderful wife who supported me throughout this, from the beginning to the end.

We were really lucky with the weather on the upper parts of the mountain, with bad weather days being our rest days anyway - otherwise we would not be able to summit that fast (12 days). Although I have not climbed with any of my team mates before, all turned out OK to deal with (except for one who was a real idiot), physically fit and dealt well with the altitude.

I am so happy I could have done and experienced this!!


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