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 Denali 2011: Marty Schmidt - 2nd dispatch from Alaska, USA


Hello everybody, it's Marty and Denali on... Denali, or Mount McKinley in Alaska.

Sent a dispatch a couple of days ago from Anchorage. We made it to Talkeetna just fine and went through all the permits and finished the organizing.

We ended up flying in on the 18th and it was a night to remember, it was beautiful, close to 24 hour sunlight. So we packed up one of our carries and skied all the way up to our Camp I and arrived back at our Base Camp at around 1 o'clock in the morning, not needing headlamps. Just magical as a first experience for the season. Denali loved it.

The next day we got up at a decent time, had a good breakfast and packed up the final gear and skied to our Camp I. Everything looked fine... then woke up early this morning to a major storm and we've been pinned down ever since. So we're probably going to be here for 24 hours and hopefully it'll clear and we can push up to our Camp II and mosey on up to high Base Camp.

That's our game plan right now. We're just sitting around acclimatising, eating, drinking and playing cards and waiting for the weather to clear. We will be in contact with you as soon as we make more progress on the hill. We're doing fine, getting used to this beautiful mountain range. It's very special to be up here with Denali, we're thinking of everybody at home, Giannina and everybody... it's magical to be here.

We don't have any cell coverage so we can only do sat phone right now. So we'll be in touch every 2-3 days. Cheers

Earlier:

Hello and greetings from Alaska. It has been a few months since the Aconcagua, Argentina climbing days went well. Giannina and I survived the earthquake in Christchurch, helped others where we could and fixed up the home after some damage. We have been busy exploring and living north of Auckland; Giannina having started her Ayurvedic study of medicine, giving back to the world in so many positive ways. We have never spent much time in the north of Auckland before and it feels good to get the feeling of this land and the people.

Since the beginning of May, I have been busy training and preparing for a climb/ski descent of Mt Shasta in Northern California and for Mt. Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, sitting at 20,320 feet / 6,196 meters. An old buddy of mine since childhood, Eddie Caldwell, a great person to explore this earth with, and I decided to ski tour the West face of Shasta. All went well with the skinning and climbing until the last 100 feet or so where we were caught in white out conditions. A lenticular coming down upon us with force, we had to make a quick decision to turn while we could. We had a beautiful 6,000 foot ski down to Bunny Flat with about 2,000 feet of perfect corn snow. It was a great mini expedition for us both. Next up is this wonderful expedition with my son Denali, 23 years of age, heading towards his name sake, Denali. It has been several years since I was on it, being called to the Himalaya and other mountains for the past 8 years. Now being back in Alaska is very special with my son, visiting good friends and training on the rock and running trails of the past. Anchorage is so beautiful and active, has been and will be forever more. For Denali to
see this land and it's people for the first time will move him in ways never felt before. He just saw his first moose in the wild. The midnight sun is creeping upon us more and more with each second, approaching the climax on the 20th of June, the summer solstice and having close to 24 hours of light to climb and ski in. No headlamps needed on Denali.

Our plan is to have our 26 days of food, fuel and gear with us on the Kahiltna, heading off to the West Buttress to 14,200 feet to acclimatize. From here we will look at the upper West Rib, checking out the snow conditions and a ski descent... it is all about the snow conditions and weather to make these experiences happen. From there a few other options will be revealed for us always making sure to have safety under our feet and skis.

Thanks to Gavin, Daan and the Macpac gang for their support and enthusiasm towards making the best gear on this earth. I just received yesterday the special single wall two person tent that needs to be tested on the slopes of Denali. We'll also put to test the new 3 person Plateau tent. Denali is the intense mountain that will put all gear on the edge. Looking forward to these days ahead.

Unfortunately Denali has already had a few deaths, I say this in my dispatch to confirm that the world news has already spoken about this. What we can let you know now is that we are aware of this, can only send out our condolences to the families, be fully prepared for our routes to climb and ski and know when to move, sit or turn around. We will be in touch with our Sat Phone through Daan and Macpac with our dispatches. Try to send them in every 2-3 days so that you can be apart of our climb. Looking forward to flying into the Kahiltna Glacier in the next few days. All the best and we'll be in touch.
Cheers,
Marty and Denali

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