Update from the WildSnow editors: Looks like they’re moving down the Kahiltna Glacier to get in position for Mount Hunter. The crew is probably working hard, we hope that’s the reason we’ve had very little communication from their satphone system (position info is being received from one of their SPOT units). All ears and eyes here. Wishing them the best!
This from the crew about 48 hours ago: It’s almost midnight and we are dialed into our big circus tent at Kahiltna Basecamp. We didn’t fly out of Talkeetna until almost 5 pm, so moving down glacier isn’t really an option for us as it is actually getting dark now in Alaska. It’s time for sleep but, the one thing we will say is that we are all like kids in a candy store. It’s hard not to let your jaw hang open, even if you have been here before.
Yesterday, the guys flew in from Talkeetna to Kahiltna Base on Denali. I got a phone call from Jordan while they were waiting next to the airstrip. The unique sound of DeHavilland Turbines taking off in the background brought back memories. As far as Alaskan mountaineering is concerned, this is the sound of music.
Anton sent us this report:
It’s finally done. All the preparation. All the planning. All the packing. It’s all done. Climbing and skiing is what awaits us. The reason we came. Tomorrow we will fly in and go for our fist objective: Mt. Hunter.
After finishing the seemingly never ending chore of food preparation we loaded the truck up to well beyond its capacity and happily drove away from Anchorage. Once in Talkeetna we met with Talkeetna Air Taxi to go over our flight. After the meeting we exploded all of our gear at the bunkhouse to put together for the flight into the Kahiltna. We gave up after a short time knowing we had a full day to get everything together and decided to hit the town.
With so many climbers either getting ready to fly into the Alaska Range or getting out, the scene in Talkeetna is quite colorful. The range has had some great weather as of late so the vibe of the climbers coming back off their trips was high. Let’s hope this pattern stays for a while. After a few too many Alaskan brews we stumbled back to the bunkhouse for the night.
1,227 pounds. Our final weight, not including ourselves. Mostly food. The day today consisted of last minute preparations and long calls home to our loved ones. Then all our gear got weighed and left at the air strip. I can finally say with confidence we are ready to go.
The mood of our crew is excellent. We are confident that if we get some luck with weather and route conditions we have a good shot at completing our goal. But we also know how brutal and unforgiving the Alaska Range can be. We will only take what it gives us.
Next stop, the world of snow and ice!
For those of you curious about the exact location of Kahiltna Base, check this Google map. Note locations of Mount Hunter and Denali.
(Ski the Big 3 is a 2014 Alaskan ski mountaineering expedition attempting to ski Denali, Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter all during one trip.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.