Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
So, as it turns out, renting a satellite phone for six weeks actually costs a significant amount of money. We may end up simply buying a SPOT beacon for a lot less.
If that turns out to be the case there may be no more blog updates, but check in, you never know what Jacon and I are capable of pulling out of our asses at the last minute!
Until next time!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Without Tavian's contribution of workshop space for our pain cave, Max and I would never have been able to properly train for this trip.
And all three have gracefully loaned us enormous amounts of gear: stoves, mukluks, down booties, sleeping bags, packs. snow stakes, etc. etc. They did so with minimal complaint.
And of course, there's the dubious thank-you I must extend for getting me into all this crazy shit in the first place. And by "thank-you" I mean "forgiveness," and by "must extend" I mean "probably will never offer."
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Solved. The Western Mountaineering bags CLEARLY have more loft than either of Stefan's bags, and loft=warmth. But... since we're still apprehensive about -20 or colder temperatures, we're each going to bring a lightweight (30-deg) bag as a liner. We're also going to have vapor-barrier liners and bivy sacks so that should be plenty.
So Stefan has generously loaned us his -20 and -30ish degree sleepings bags and thus the debate rages on.
Is 2 pounds 7 oz of 700 fill down going to be as lofty and warmer than 30 oz of 850+ fill down?
Is 2 pounds 9 oz of polarguard going to be warmer?
Is the slight boost in warmth going to be worth the significant increase in total weight of the bags.
These are the last minute questions we're struggling with. Hopefully we'll figure it out and bring the right gear or else we'll be spending some very cold nights together.
With a few days left all that's left is dinner with the family, seeing a few friends, and finalizing our packing and checklists and figuring out how to get to Boston for our flight on Tuesday (potential ride from Jacon's mother?).
Should make for an interesting, fun filled weekend.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
JWolf was instrumental to this trip because after moving to Talkeetna, she convinced her friend Lisa Roderick (the base-camp manager on Denali) to put us on her crew for base-camp set-up. Without that offer, we likely would not have been able to afford the expensive flight to the glacier.
So: THANK YOU JULIE WOLF. You inspire us.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Dates: We fly out Tuesday, the 26th - a week from today. Our flight is Boston-Houston-Anchorage, because obviously Houston is the sensible place to connect. We fly home Anchorage-Houston-Boston on June 9th.
In-town: We will spend the night of the 26th in Anchorage with a friend of Max's. The 27th is going to be a busy day: we have to buy a bunch of food (freshies, mostly, but there is a long list), go pick up my rental skis at Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking, stop by a hardware store for some stuff to make wands and improve the sleds, drive to Talkeetna (still not sure how that's going to happen), meet with the rangers and get an hour-long-briefing, and then pack everything for the flight to the Kahiltna glacier.
The flight in / Kahiltna International Airport: A few weeks ago we received an amazing offer from Lisa Roderick, who runs Denali base camp (affectionately known as the Kahiltna International Airport). We're going to help her set up base camp in exchange for a free flight. More on that to come. Anyway, we have to be ready to fly in on April 28th, or the soonest day after that weather allows.
Warm up / Approach: Because our permit doesn't start until May 8 (we reserved it before we got the offer to set up basecamp), we can't go pass Kahiltna Pass (about 11,000') on Denali until then. That means we have about a week of enforced warm-up time, which we will hopefully spend on some warm-up climbs. We've discussed the Mini-Moonflower, Mt. Frances, Kahiltna Queen, and even the Moonflower Buttress itself on Mt. Hunter. In early May we are expecting temperatures to hit -30 F at night, so perhaps we'll just spend it building ourselves a pimp snowcave.
After the permit starts: We'll begin moving the majority of our stuff to the camp at 14,200', which should take several days at least, depending on whether we decide to "double carry" or not. Then we'll acclimate at 14, spend a few nights at 17, etc. Since we've got plenty of time, we want to use it getting really well acclimated. We're going to approach the Cassin via the West Rib Cutoff in order to avoid the northeast fork of the Kahiltna, the so-called "Valley of Death."
The climb: Will be single-push style. That means no stopping to sleep, just stopping to rest. I think we're going to bring one sleeping bag and one bivy sack, to discourage stopping. Light is right.
Then it's back to the KIA and home, and after that who knows. Feel free to offer us employment at this juncture.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
There's a lot to think about. The exact style to climb the Cassin in, how many stoves to bring, what sleeping bags to bring. Do we bring two sleeping bags on the route, two bivy sacks?
Nineteen days until we leave and we have our work cut out for us.
I have moments of complete confidence and then moments of doubt. Overall I think we've worked incredibly hard to prepare and we have extra time on the glacier to gather our strength, maybe get a warm up climb in, and just get acclimated in general.
It's going to get interesting...
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Yesterday, after a painful five plus hours of organization and rations planning we bought food from two online bulkfood sources. The food total came to about $380, the shipping total came to about $105. Not entirely sure if buying bulk online and getting it shipped to Talkeetna was the best way to go though I don't imagine that buying food in the amounts that we need in Alaska would be much cheaper, nor would buying it here and shipping it ourselves.
We still have at least a couple hundred dollars to spend on food when we get to Alaska, not to mention the booze putting as way over our food budget.
We're both pretty strapped for cash, I know Jacon's running low, my credit card is maxed out, so this should get interesting. I have no doubt that we'll make the trip happen without any financial hitches, however what happens when we get back to civilization with no money or jobs to speak of is another question.
Regardless this trip is entirely worth it, only 21 days until we leave for Alaska!
Monday, April 4, 2011
That's what we're getting and also how I feel about this whole nightmare. We're primarily going to be using a NOLS-style ration, with bulk food and no planned meals (the only practical way to handle a 37-day trip), but we're also bringing some freeze-dried meals for the climb itself. I think we're going to be able to order most of our food from BulkFoods.com and Emergency Essentials, which is really good because we have very little time in Anchorage.
To give you an idea of how complex this is going to be, we're planning four ration periods, with the ration amount gradually increasing from 2.25 pounds per person per day to 2.45 pounds per person per day. We then need to multiply by the category multiplier (.35 for breakfast, .37 for dinner, .26 for cheese), etc., and then split up the resulting poundage for each section of each ration period among the different foods so we have variety and such.
Wish us luck, we're going to need it.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
So we're giving it up. We're going to use the funding we've received and the money we've saved to take up a far more civilized sport: yachting. It's warmer, Type 1 fun, there are babes.... all around a better option.
We're switching our flights from Anchorage to Newport - that's right, fabulous Newport, Rhode Island. We're trading in the dumb yellow boots for nice comfy deck shoes. Our feet will now be encased in leather, which is what they deserve. And we'll be getting a tan. That's right, a tan.
Look for us on the high seas. We'll be sipping rum, flirting with girls in bikinis, and generally enjoying ourselves. F*#% mountaineering.