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 ALPINE ASCENTS INTERNATIONAL Denali 2001

Join ALPINE ASCENTS INTERNATIONAL with guides Wally Berg, Todd Burleson, Vern Tejas for a season on Denali.

Welcome to the Spring 2001 cybercast of Denali!

There are certain mountains which need no explanation as to "why climb." Denali is such a mountain as its natural magnetism constantly draws climbers to the great Alaska Range. This type of ascent is one which touches the psyche of all alpinists and those who have undertaken this challenge have been rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As Everest is to the Tibetans, Denali is inseparable from indigenous Alaskan lore. Every native who saw Denali towering over their horizon, named it accordingly, The Great One or The High One.

We wish all of the teams the best of luck and look forward to following their adventures.

ALPINE ASCENTS INTERNATIONAL Denali Team lists

Current Dispatch:

This ends the Spring 2001 cybercast of Denali!

July 1, 2001 6:21pm, Summit of Denali, Alaska. Team X

Hey folks this is Dave Bangert, and we're on the summit.  At about six o'clock everybody got up here we had a very nice ridge climb it was rather sporting, but everybody did just fine.  Everybody's in good spirits, we're just getting a bunch of photos, the weather actually cleared or us, I'm looking out at the North Buttress of Hunter right now it's pretty hard to beat.  We're going to be heading down pretty soon, hopefully we'll be flying back to Talkeetna by the third and be able to celebrate the fourth of July in Talkeetna Alaska, Let me go over to Matt,

"Hey there I'd like to try to describe what we're looking gat out here, we've got some patchwork cotton clouds, real low and some high wispy clouds, but no wind up here, we're enjoying about thirty degree temperatures, the warmest, I've ever seen up here.  The team's in great spirits, everything's looking fantastic for the descent.  I'm looking around at the team here, they're all snapping photos of each other, we've got a couple of banners, we got some underwear on people's heads, a doll, and an American Flag, I think probably commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the first ascent of the West Buttress, so that's I think tomorrow, so hopefully we'll be down by the airstrip tomorrow (we'll see) celebrating ourselves.  This is Matt Szundy clear, and Team Nutmeg, talking to you from the summit of Denali, take care.

July 1, 2001 5:26pm, Summit Ridge, Alaska. Team X

Hey guys this is Dave Bangert with Team Nutmeg and we are on the summit ridge, it's about 5:30 everybody's here and healthy, we've probably got another half hour to go to the summit, we can't actually see the summit right now, we've got some drifting snow, but it's nice and toasty, so no complaints.  I'm going to pass the phone around, everybody can say hello, because the summit's probably not going to be a place to talk...

"Hey mom and Dad and family in Milwaukee, we've got about three hundred vertical feet, wish us good luck, send us your prayers, and hopefully we'll talk to you soon, we're almost there, this is Parker, from Milwaukee."

"Hey this is Dave from Atlanta just want to say I love you very much Gail and make sure that you go to the office on Tuesday, bye, I love you sweetheart."

"This is Eric, I just want to say hi to my wife Shelley, my daughters Kendall and Christine, I love you all very much and thank you for your love and support, we'll talk to you soon."

"Scott Gilbert, want to say hello to mom and dad, I love you, and hopefully I'll see you in a few days,."

"This is Gary Meeker, want to say hello to family and friends back home and say hello to my wife Gladys, I love you a lot, I want to talk to you soon, so we'll be getting ourselves off this mountain, all right I'll pass the phone on to Matt"

"Hey there, Matt Szundy here, as Dave mentioned, we just climbed up Pig Hill, it's called Pig Hill because it's quite a grunt. And all we have left is the beautiful summit ridge, we can just hazily see the summit from here, but we know it's up there, so we're just going to commence to cruising across the ridge an we'll be there in half an hour.  Talk to you then, bye."

Dave: "Hey Shar got your special item that's going to make it to the summit, Yamaguchi Baby! Later guys." 

June 29, 2001 5:15pm, Summit of Denali, Alaska. Team IX

Hey this is John Race with Team Gus Smokewood, it is Friday, at about 5 pm and we have been to the summit (cheers in the background) and we're on our way down, everyone summitted, they all kicked butt, these guys did great, we're hoping to be back at high camp maybe by eight o'clock, this evening Friday, then we'll be working our way down the mountain, then flying out Sunday or Monday. That's it for now, this is John Race with Alpine Ascents' Team Gus Smokewood, saying goodbye.

June 29, 2001 11:37am, High Camp, Alaska. Team VII

Hey folks this is Allen Carbert calling with good news from the Habaneros Eight.  Yesterday afternoon we left camp at about 4pm and at 12:09, all expedition members and two guides stood on the summit!  We were greeted by beautiful views, the sun dipping down over the horizon, a beautiful half moon, the colors were spectacular and we had unbelievably warm temperatures considering we were very close to the Arctic Circle, at the coldest time of day on the highest mountain in North America.  So we're all doing really well, we're a little bit tired, but our plan now is to descend the mountain safely and get to the camp at 11,000 feet which will put us in the position to arrive at the landing strip sometime tomorrow afternoon.  That is if all goes well, if people are tired we might take an extra day here or there, I know I wouldn't mind, I'm pretty knackered myself.

The group did an outstanding job on summit day, we had a return trip time of eleven and a half hours, which is well above average given that the park information has it that many expeditions take eighteen hours, so we all move very well together, work well together and manage our safety very well. So I think what we're going to do is maybe later on this afternoon when we descend down to 14,000 foot camp and pick up our cache I'll pass the phone around and the expedition members can say hello to their friends and families back home. But for now I just wanted to let everybody know that we did have 100% success on our summit climb and we also descended back down to our high camp safely.  We're going to continue moving down the mountain with safety in mind, and you should expect to hear form your loved ones in the next forty eight hours, I should hope.  So for now this is Allen saying goodbye and we'll talk with you later on this afternoon.

June 28, 2001 8:00pm, High Camp, Alaska. Team IX

Hey this is John Race with Alpine Ascents and Team Gus Smokewood, and it is Thursday the 28th of June, 8pm.  We didn't make our summit attempt today, the winds were a little too high, so we're probably going to try for it tomorrow morning, and have at it.  Everybody continues to be very healthy, and no teams have made it up in the last couple of days, but there are three teams out trying to climb tonight, including Allen and Lhakpa's Team with Alpine Ascents, so with any luck we'll pass them on their way down or they'll get down before we head up.  We plan to summit Friday, We've got our fingers crossed, hope to have good weather, and we're all doing well and we'll give you a call from the summit.  Okay, this is John Race out.

June 28, 2001 7:51pm, Camp IV, Alaska. Team X

Hey web cruisers, this is Dave Bangert with Team Nutmeg, we're still at 14,000 on Denali.  We did a carry up to 16.2 today, we actually kind of broke the team up a bit, I took three of the guys up early this morning and Matt took a couple of other guys up later this afternoon.  Jim is still feeling under the weather, so we had somebody stay with him at 14, he's doing fine but we're going to wait until Allen & Lhakpa's group to come down to escort him out.  Right now it looks like Allen and Lhakpa's group and John and Terry's group are probably be going for the summit tomorrow and right now we may move up to 17 or we may take another rest day tomorrow.  We'll have to talk to Allen tonight and see how they've progressed.  But everybody's in good spirits, we had a good carry, and the weather's great, we're looking out at Hunter and it's quite spectacular.  Shar, sorry we got cut off the other night, but I'll talk to you soon, bye.

June 28, 2001 4:42pm, High Camp, Alaska. Team VIII

Hey folks it's Thursday June 28th and this is Allen calling you from 17,000 feet.  Last night we gave it a go, the clouds parted and the winds calmed down we made it as far as Denali Pass before we saw some lenticulars starting to form, and we hightailed it back to camp just in time, we had quite a wind storm last night.  Today it's generally calm, despite some wind in the morning hours, and right now it's about four o'clock and it looks really really good.  So we're going to give it a go, we expect to be at Denali Pass in a little under two hours and we're hoping to be at the summit about four or five hours after that.  Yep, It'll be a nighttime ascent, but we have unusually warm temperatures up here today which is a real blessing and we have absolutely no wind at the moment.  So as the saying goes: "When the weather is good in Alaska, point yourself uphill."  So that's exactly what we're doing, everyone's really excited, we're just going to see how it goes, we'll get to Denali Pass and kind of do a gut check, and look around in the sky for any clouds developing, and if everything looks good, we should be able to reach the summit soon after that, and we'll definitely give you a call from there provided the batteries aren't frozen; I don't like carrying them in my pocket too much, that's, well, we won't get into that.  At any rate everyone's in great shape, everyone's in good spirits, and Today is our big day, we're going to make a push for the summit and we're going to make this one count, so I'm hoping that the next call will be from the top.  For now this is Allen saying, see ya.

June 27, 2001 5:57pm, High Camp, Alaska. Team VIII

Hey everybody this is Allen Carbert at 17,000 feet on Denali and yes indeed, today was the day that we have all been looking forward to with much anticipation: today was to be summit day.  However as it turns out, today was our first bad weather day.  We woke up to winds and cold temperatures.  We waited for about three hours to see if the winds would die down and conditions would improve, but our window of opportunity closed up on us.  Huge lenticular clouds over the top of Denali, huge lenticular clouds over Mt. Foraker and Mt. Crosson.  Lenticulars generally indicate poor weather and high winds, it's a mixing of jet streams, and it's a bad thing to see when you want to go to the top of a 20,000 foot mountain.  

So we spent much of the day securing our camp, building thick wind walls, some of our wind walls are in fact two and a half feet thick.  We spent time re-anchoring our tents and trying to make life a little more livable up here.  The group is doing fine, we still have all six expedition members that started with us in Talkeetna, and all six individuals are in good health and good spirits and still highly motivated to reach the top.  We will make our second attempt tomorrow should the weather improve as we expect it to.  We still have several days to make our summit bid so we're waiting patiently, eating all sorts of good food and drinking lots of hot chocolate.  So until I have something more exciting to say I am going to hang up the phone and dive back into my nice warm sleeping bag because the winds haven't let up as I might have mentioned.  It's still probably 20 mph winds and we have temperatures probably close to minus five, making it very very uncomfortable for me standing here with the cell phone in my hand.  I will call you all tomorrow, I hope from the summit and we'll pass the phone around and you can hear from your friends family and loved ones.  So until then everybody sit tight and stay tuned, just as we're doing, this is Allen signing off.

June 27, 2001 1:32pm, High Camp, Alaska. Team IX

Hey this is John Race with Team Gus Smokewood, this is Wednesday June 27th, and we're at 17.2.  We decided to take a rest day, and it actually turned that we couldn't go up because the weather's not good, a little windy, not too cold though, and we plan to go for the summit tomorrow. And when I can find the time to call when it's not so windy I will. 

June 27, 2001 12:58pm, High Camp, Alaska. Team X

Hey guys this is Dave Bangert with Team Nutmeg, we're out on the Edge of the World right now, looking down onto the NW Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, better known as the "Valley of Death"  We've got a pretty interesting day, it looks like up high we've got some pretty high winds, Allen's group and John's group are probably pinned down up there, looks like they've got a big lenticular.  Our group's doing well, we're just taking a rest day, we're eating a bunch, we're going to go back and work on fixed lines and running protection an basically just chill out.  We'll be doing a carry up to 16.2 tomorrow and we'll probably check in with you then.  This is Team Nutmeg out.

June 26, 2001 5:09pm, Camp IV, Alaska. Team X

Matt: Hello friends and family of Alpine Ascents Expedition #10 on Mt. McKinley.  We are doing really well here at 14.2, we are having a rest day.  It's a beautiful sweltering day here, we just did a back carry down to the corner, to Windy Corner and picked up our cache of food and fuel, brought it back up here and had a big bowl of ice cream, as we stand around in our underwear here on Mt. McKinley, pretty odd sight.  Anyway, just thought I'd check in, and we will be probably doing a rest day again tomorrow and then a carry day the day after that, so we'll keep in touch, thanks for listening, take care, bye.

June 26, 2001 2:26pm, High Camp, Alaska. Team VIII

Hi this is Ivan, I want to say hi to the whole gang who is following along, we're standing at 17,200 feet right now.  Absolutely spectacular day, we are overlooking Mt. Foraker, and the spectacular glaciers below.  It was an unbelievably exhausting climb up to the 17,000 feet yesterday from 14,000 feet with a 50-pound pack, that was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life.  We spent today resting and hydrating and getting ready for a summit push tomorrow if weather permits.  I want to say hi to everybody, love you all, especially Aeaja, love you miss you and see you soon.

Hey this is Brian, (static) to my sister and Ellen, I love you guys, (static) Tomorrow hopefully, God willing we'll make it to the top otherwise I will call you when I get to the bottom and get back to civilization." 

"Hi this is John, at 17.2, just wanted to say hi to everyone who's following this especially Pub(?), I may get back a couple of days early, so look forward to seeing you when I get back hopefully. Buh bye.

"Hi this is Mike, how you all doing, everybody's resting up here at high camp, it was a pretty exhausting climb yesterday, and we've got half of the oxygen now but we're getting ready for summit day tomorrow.  I just want to say I love you to Donna, Christy, Matthew, Buddy, Cloud, and to my family, and Happy Birthday Mary Ann, I'm sorry I missed it earlier, and hopefully we'll have a good time on summit day tomorrow, Okay talk to you all later, bye, bye.

This is Mel from 17,000 foot camp, Less air up here obviously, can tell the difference distinctly, but hope all is well, I appreciate all the support friends and family have given to get me this far.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow, to summit day, which I think will be the final push that all the support you've given me has allowed me to do.  Take care.

Hi this is Jan from 17,000 feet, This is a great, surprisingly I feel really good.  Hi to Joe, I love you and (Hellos to several other people that were unintelligible due to static) tomorrow's the big day.  Yesterday was really, really tough, and tomorrow's not going to be any easier at all, so you all keep me in your prayers, please.  Talk to you later, bye bye.

June 25, 2001 8:19pm, High Camp, Alaska. Team VIII

Hey everybody this is Allen Carbert calling you from 17,000 feet on Denali.  Yep, the Habaneros Eight, arrived this afternoon in good form.  We've been greeted by some light snow and poor visibility, but that's okay, this camp is a very social place, and everybody's talking to people from all over the world, we just had a delicious dinner.  And boy, you know that's about it, everybody just pretty much wanted to let you folks back at home know that everything is going just fine.  And tomorrow we'll probably take a rest day, before we make our bid for the summit.  We do have a very favorable forecast and unusually warm temperatures right now, so we're all sleeping well and living the good life here in the mountains.  Well, I guess because we are a little short on air up here at 17,000 feet, I won't be long-winded with my message.  But stay tuned for tomorrow as we will give you a call and let you know what's going on.  Bye bye.

June 25, 2001 8:01pm, Camp IV, Alaska. Team X

Hey there cyber folks, this is Matt Szundy, checking in with you from Mt. McKinley.  We're at 14,000 feet right now, our team just moved to what is basically our Camp IV.  We are just finished a nice dinner and are enjoying some dessert.  It was a little bit overcast today, our first sort of bad day of the trip, weather-wise.  Otherwise everybody is doing great, we made a real strong move today and tomorrow we're going to do a back carry down to Windy Corner about 13.8, to pick up the rest of our food and fuel that we have cached there. And then we will continue with resting and acclimatizing here at 14,000 feet.  So we'll check in with you again when we continue on up the mountain.  Probably make a carry to 16.2 in approximately two or three days.  And then move up to high camp after that.  So we'll touch base with you then, this is Matt Szundy standing by, thanks.

June 25, 2001 6:32pm, Camp IV, Alaska. Team IX

Hello all you cyber climbers, this is Lawdon with Alpine Ascents' Gus Smokewood Denali team, here at 14,000 feet.  We're taking a rest today after tackling the headwall yesterday and making a cache at 16.2.  We've had spectacular weather up to this point, so we're all having a hard time believing our luck that the one poor weather day we had, fell on a rest day.  Actually it's not so bad, cloudy with light snow, but not great climbing weather.  The team is feeling strong and we are all excited about the next few days, looking forward to a summit bid on Wednesday or Thursday if all goes well.  I think our climb up the headwall did wonders for our confidence.  We made great time and moved well as a team.  Those of us who were a little intimidated by the steepness of the terrain discovered that we are certainly up to the challenge.

I'd like to thank John Race and Terry Ahern for their excellent guiding abilities, some of us might not have made it this far without them.  And I'd like to send my love to Angel, I think of you every day.  And finally, to Todd and Giles, keep believing, dreams can come true.  Happy trails to everyone.

June 24, 2001 8:44pm, Camp IV, Alaska. Team VIII

Hey folks this is Allen Carbert calling you from 14,000 feet on Denali.  It is Sunday, June 24th and today was our rest day at 14,000 feet.  We did have a little bit of excitement: we walked out to The Edge of The World, and we managed to come close to burning down the Posh House, as Lhakpa was busy working with the stoves. and Ivan managed to get lost in a whiteout coming back from the outhouse this afternoon.

We have probably 200 feet of visibility right now, no wind, real light snow, a good rest day for everybody, but we're champing at the bit to move higher on the mountain to put ourselves in position for a summit. Tomorrow look forward to a brief phone call from us, we should be calling you from 17 if all goes well.  For now that's all, and we'll talk with you later, bye, bye.

June 24, 2001 1:08pm, Camp II, Alaska. Team X

Hey cyberland this is Dave Bangert again, with Team Nutmeg, although, I'm leaning towards team Yamaguchi, but we'll let you guys know in a bit.

"Hi everybody this is Jim, I want to say hi to all of our family and friends in San Diego.  Spectacular country up here, but I'm battling a very nasty cold and it's giving me a lot of trouble.  Anyway, I'm going to hand off to Dave..."

(unintelligible) who's up in Connecticut, Gail, I miss you very much and I'm looking forward to seeing you:  yeah you really would love it up here. bye.

Dave: "We may be taking a rest day tomorrow, we not, but if we're heading up we'll be in touch.  The weather's looking pretty good right now, although it looks like we've got a forest fire going on, a lot of smog out there.  Shar, love you much, bye."

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