New Blog

Well, folks the Denali post was SO BIG I ran out of room and had to start a new blog!  So check out all the pics and the whole story of climbing Denali on the new blog.  The post was literally so big (and I couldn't just post half) to see all the pics (especially the best ones....summit photos) you have to click on the Older Posts option at the bottom of the page or use the links under the blog archive on the right side of the page.  Enjoy and continue to travel with us on the new blog from now on!


Finally, the time has come to climb the BIG mountain!  The adventure that we have been preparing for over the last three years.   We are as ready as we'll ever be!  Now, it's just up to the weather and our bodies.  We have a 24 day permit and are scheduled to fly to base camp May 17th (weather permitting).  Our three person team is called The Highest World Expedition in honor of our Belgian partner Aruand De Laveleye.  We are starting with approximately 150 pounds of food and 5 gallons of fuel.  In fact, we will be climbing most of the mountain twice due to the amount of food, fuel, and gear we have to carry.  Meaning one day we will carry half our stuff up to the next camp or a cache site in between and go back down to camp for the night, then the next day we will carry the other half of our stuff to the next camp and set up then retrieve our cached supplies.  If all goes perfectly (which it rarely ever does mainly because of weather) we could be done in 12 or 14 days.  If we are tent bound for days waiting out a storm or multiple storms, then it could take 24 days or more.  I guess just keep on eye on our Spot Tracker to find out.  Which some days it might not work real well if we are socked in by the clouds.

Andrew pointing to the south summit of Denali.  The south summit is about 1,000 ft. higher than the north summit. 
Below are a few pictures of the West Buttress route that we are taking.  This is the most commonly climbed route on Denali.  As of May 15th, there are 234 climbers on the mountain, 16 have already come off the mountain, and 2 of those 16 have reached the summit.  Plus, the NPS has issued 1,020 permits to climb the mountain this season.

 Also, some other websites to keep track of while we are on the mountain are the current weather forecastTalkeetna Web Cam, and the AMS blog (Alaska Mountaineering School, who we did our 12-day glacier course with a couple of years ago).  AMS does guided expeditions and they have expeditions in front of us now and will have expeditions behind us starting on the 25th of May.  The guides check in with Talkeetna via satellite phones whenever possible to give updates on movement, weather, and such.  Their motto with that is "no news is good news," so keep that in mind.
Think good thoughts for us over the next few weeks, and picture the three of us on the summit (healthy and happy) on a clear, calm, blue sky day! 

Welcome Home Ride

We have made it safely back to Alaska!  We are doing a quick transition from Two Rivers to Healy, then to the BIG mountain next week!  Boss was glad to see a little bit of snow left on the ground at his Two Rivers home, and we were thrilled to get some some wind in our faces with a ride around the neighborhood! 

Colorado Rockies

As we were headed back to Alaska we decided it was a good idea to stop in Colorado for about 40 hours and spend some time at elevation.  It will help jumpstart our acclimatization process for the Denali trip next week.  We did two hikes around 8,500 feet with Boss, hiked above 12,000 feet twice by ourselves, slept one night at 8,500 feet and then slept the next night at just under 12,000 feet.
The air is shockingly thin at this altitude when you come from elevation less than 2,000 feet.
Chilly too, but Andrew is just made for these temps.

Boss as well, he loves the snow!

En route to a 13,000 ft. peak.
Walking the ridgeline to another 13,000+ ft. peak.
What a view!  So worth the effort!

Crossing a snow patch while hiking to another peak.
This was one of the lower hikes we did with Boss.  He was really breathing hard at 12,000 feet but did very well at lower elevations.  He has gotten to the point where we can only do fairly flat hikes with him.  Actually he can still go up all day long, but the down hill is what hurts him.  He has arthritis in his front shoulders.

Beautiful hike around a small lake.

At the halfway point the bridge across the creek had broke down so we had to seek an alternative crossing point.

Cascading falls a little ways up the creek.

The other hike we did followed a jeep trail up through a fragrant sage brush area overlooking a local reservoir and the snowy mountains.

Pasque flowers in bloom already.
Such a great stop, wish we had more time to spend.

Family Time in TN

Well, we finally did it!  My immediate side of the family all got together for a visit.  It's been too long....six years exactly.  We made a couple different trips to the playground, spent lots of time running down the hill behind my mom's house and climbing trees, and ate some good meals.

Lots of energy expended at the playground climbing on things and playing chase.

Andrew giving underdogs!
Boss giving kisses!
This is one happy dog!  I have never seen a dog that actually loved the playground.  You can see the excitement in him as we near the playground.  Without being prompted he will climb the stairs to the slides and different play areas.  He has actually gone down slides more than once, but thankfully he didn't this time.  I think he knows how age and bodies work and sometimes certain things aren't worth it anymore.  Smart dog!

Bouncing and jumping!

We all love this rope climbing tower.  Believe it or not we manage to play "chase" on this thing (closer to the bottom of course).
Superheros in the house!
Flash and Spiderman at once!  Oh no!
Spiderman has got moves!
But so does Uncle Andrew!  It was a good match.
The beautiful princess bride treated us with her presence as well. 

What a fun gang!

Knox finished up the bubbles for us.
Everybody enjoys walking the Boss dog (except Boss).  He is not fond of leashes.  He thinks he is too good for that.

A few practice throws turned into a family ball game at the park.

Everybody on the rope jungle gym!  Fun times!
Here, Alex had put his Flash cape on Boss so we got a group picture.  He was so happy.  It was precious because normally he is not happy about anyone else wearing his Flash cape, but it was ok for Boss to wear it.  I loved it!  And Boss was so cool with it when he doesn't normally tolerate such things very well.  It was a bonding moment for Alex and Boss! :)