Denali Climb I

Discussion in 'Travelogue' started by Jim Dockery, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Jim Dockery

    Jim Dockery Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2017
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    Lake Stevens, WA
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    I'm going to break this into 4 threads because I got a lot of shots on a 19 day trip up the standard West Buttress route in 2005. This was my first expedition using a digital camera. I went with a Canon Rebel XT for it's light weight with an 18-125mm Sigma lens. I brought a solar charger which didn't end up working when I misplaced the cord:mad: Luckily the two batteries I had lasted a long time, but forced me to be very selective in my shots. On summit day I relied on my trusty little Olympus XA film camera.

    My 2 young partners and I intended to ski from the summit, but high winds and poor snow conditions foiled those plans. Two of us did make the summit on a training day without skis. We went up from the 14,000 ft. camp for an acclimatization day, figuring we'd turn around at 17,000 where most teams set their high camp. It turned out to be a perfect calm day, which you don't want to pass up. After a good rest at 17,000 with a friend who was camped there who cooked up a load of drinks for us, we carried on to see how far we could make it and found ourselves on the summit a few hours later.

    I'd always intended to climb in the Alaska range, and figured I had to climb Denali sometime in my life. By the time I got around to it my 50th birthday seemed like a good time to get er done. So glad I did.

    Going away dinner at my friend Tom's house. My wife Debbie is on the left, Tom (one of my oldest climbing friends who helped teach my first climbing course) in the back right, and his son Patrick (my partner on the climb) in the front right.

    The flight into the Alaska Range was one of the highlights of the trip that I would highly recommend to anyone heading up to the area. I couldn't talk my wife into taking one when she came up after the climb, but she wants to do it next time we visit.

    Take off from Talkeetna

    Approaching the mountains


    Mountain in the mist

    Approaching landing on Kahiltna glacier

    View of the awesome south face of Denali. My friend Tom (Pat's dad) did an early alpine style ascent of the difficult Cassin Ridge (between sun and shadow) back in the late 70s.

    Me modeling the shirt that was signed by the students at the elementary school where I taught P.E. I got permission to start summer vacation a week early for the climb as an example to my students that I was doing the homework I assigned them every day, "Go outside and play!"

    Our first night skiing up the lower mountain was the toughest for me. Because it is very low angle we decided to do it in one load instead of the double carry system we would do for the rest of the trip. Our packs ,and sleds we pulled, had all our gear and food for a month and weighed over 100 pounds.

    Mt. Foraker at night

    Sunrise on Foraker

    Resting in the heat of the day with friends we met. The snow is much easier and faster to ski on at these low elevations at night, plus the heat and reflecting sun during the day literally burns you out.

    West Buttress Route and camps

    Part II
    #1 Jim Dockery, Feb 13, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    BarryHamilton, MonikaC and AlanLichty like this.
  2. AlanLichty

    AlanLichty Moderator

    Aug 16, 2017
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    Vancouver, Washington
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    Wow - now that's an adventure of a lifetime (at least it would be for me). I love the aerial shots of the region - not somewhere I have ever been even close to and it looks amazing.
  3. MonikaC

    MonikaC Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2017
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    in the red zone west of Boulder, CO
    Awaiting the next installment!
  4. BarryHamilton

    BarryHamilton Founding Member

    Aug 14, 2017
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    Cabot, AR
  5. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jul 19, 2017
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    How interesting Jim! To climb Denali had to have been such a thrill.

    I like how you are documenting this, and taking us along for the ride. You have me at the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment also.
  6. Rafael

    Rafael Active Member

    Mar 13, 2018
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    Southern California
    Wow. I just discovered the Travelogue part of FocalWorld. This is a very cool one!

    "Go outside and play!" That sounds like a great homework assignment for students!
    Ben Egbert likes this.

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