You can see that I already have on the first few layers of light thermals, softshell pants and Koflach brand climbing boots. They are similar to ski boots with a hard plastic shell, rubber Vibram hiking soles and super warm inner liners. I am also wearing ultra thin liner socks, light hiking socks and heavy expedition socks over them. Note the snow on the ground at the Talkeetna airport. Do I look excited or what??!
The Route Up The Mountain
I am often asked "How many miles did you hike to get to the top?" and I don't have an answer. There may be some estimates out there but we measured time and distance in terms of reaching good spots to shelter at certain altitudes.
The Gear We Needed
It takes a lot of gear to survive the weeks on Denali. Once you are up there you cannot go back for the forgotten gloves or a missing carabiner. It makes you sort of paranoid about losing things because your very life may depend on that one item. You have to carry all of it in a pack and in a sled you tow behind you. We had no guides, no sherpas, no porters, no sled dogs, no snowmobiles. Just our own human power.
Here is a lot of expensive gear!
Loaded onto these wagons, it is ready to roll out and load on the plane!
How will it all fit?
It actually took two flights to haul us up there. If you ever get a chance to take a flight-seeing tour up there by all means go! The beauty of the glacier clad mountains is beyond description.
Be sure to fly up there via the company called Talkeetna Air. Great people and a company that a climbing expedition can stake their lives on.
When our team got the first batch of gear loaded I was lucky enough to go. I'll tell you, when I looked out the window it was really "living the dream" as the view was even better than all of the Alaska documentaries I ever saw!
The heavily loaded plane climbed steadily higher and labored towards the "Kahiltna International Airport" on Kahiltna Glacier.
It is jokingly called "international" because of climbers from all over the world setting foot there.
Here are a few of the many types of bush planes with skis. Note the large belly pod for cargo in this one.
A turboprop from K-2 Aviation
This is our our plane on ice; note that the skis have been hydraulically lowered below the rubber landing wheels
An unsophisticated country person
n. inexperienced climber
A frozen climber
a.k.a. Human Ice Cube or "Corpsicle"
Instead of Human Ice Cubes we were now Team Ice Rubes!