Scaling Denali, the highest peak in North America
We are following along with Perpetual’s very own Huw Rothwell as he climbs North America’s highest peak and one of the world’s 7 summits: DENALI. We find Huw a week into his trip today as part of his personal mission to climb the highest peak in each of the 50 States.
Follow along as we chart his progress and learn a little about what it takes to create a vision and put in place a well thought out and executable plan that will accelerate towards ultimate success. We are proud of you Huw – You are truly living what we preach during our High Performing Team programs! Good luck with the trip.
HUW & TEAM FLY TO KAHILTNA BASE CAMP
Date: May 27, 2021 – Elevation: 7,300′
Our expedition led by RMI Guides Mike King, Alex Halliday and Abby Westling arrived in Anchorage on Tuesday, May 25th. The team made our way to Talkeenta with a stop for groceries and fresh food to fly us onto the mountain. Once in Talkeetna we sorted and packed gear, met with the National Park Service and prepared to begin our adventure on Denali. The forecast for Wednesday evening looked to have a break in the weather that would allow us to fly to Kahiltna Base Camp. And sure enough, the team loaded up in the K2 Aviation Twin Otters and headed into the mountains around 5 pm local time.
HUW & TEAM MOVE TO BASE OF SKI HILL
Date: May 28, 2021 – Elevation: 9,600′
The team and I flew onto the glacier late yesterday and did little else but get camp set up and ate some dinner. By midnight there was a blizzard that moved in until 9 am. After rigging our sleds and packs the wind had died down to a dull roar and the sky turned blue. We packed up and headed out around 12:30 pm with the sun to help balance the cold breeze. The route down heartbreak hill and onto the Kahiltna glacier was straightforward but windy. The wind would not abate for the next 5 hours as we leaned into it and got to camp. Heavy packs and sleds have us happy to be eating dinner and getting ready to sleep.
We’ll see what this storm brings tomorrow, but for now our full bellies and tired legs could care less.
HUW & TEAM CACHE GEAR AT 9500’
Date: May 29, 2021 – Elevation: 9,500′
We had another stormy night here at the base of ski hill. We woke to clear skies and decided to try and move some food and fuel towards Kahiltna Pass and the turn up to 11,200’ camp. 30 minutes into the day the wind picked up and the loose snow started spinning. With some warm gloves and a few layers we leaned into the very consistent and very cold 15 mph wind and took it an hour at a time. Eventually we got to 9500’ which met the goal for the day. The ravens will dig up shallow caches so we dug a deep hole and buried our food and fuel. We beat feet down to camp and are currently enjoying some sun on the tents while that very consistent 15 mph wind spins snow everywhere.
We’ll see what we get tomorrow and a move to 11,200’ is planned.
HUW & TEAM WAIT OUT THE WEATHER AT CAMP 1
Date: May 30, 2021 – Elevation: 7,800′
With snow falling through the night and low visibility in the early morning we decided that a weather day at Camp 1 was better than packing up a wet camp and moving to a crowded 11,200’ Camp. We got some solar on the tents which makes for good napping. Lots of good conversations over a big breakfast of hash browns, eggs and bacon. Our plan is to move to 11,200’ tomorrow in better conditions. Everyone is doing well and looking forward to moving uphill
HUW & TEAM MOVE TO 11,200FT CAMP
Date: May 31, 2021 – Elevation: 11,200′
I woke to the sound of song birds chirping by our dining tent. That could only mean one thing, that the storm had broken and we’d likely get a nice day to move camp. We woke up at 5 am and we were walking by 8 am. The storm had put 18” of new snow down. Since there were no early risers to break trail, we took that on ourselves. The day was hot and included lots of deep snow. We pulled into 11,200′ Camp at 4 pm. Camp setup, dinner and bed was all the bandwidth we had. Tomorrow we will back carry to 9500’ to retrieve our cache of food and fuel. It’ll feel like a rest day compared the effort put forth today. Goodnight.
HUW & TEAM RETRIEVE GEAR FROM 9,500’
Date: June 1, 2021 – Elevation: 11,200′
After going to bed last night there was an earthquake that shook camp and caused some ice to fall waking up the guides and a few in the group. The others were too deep in sleep from our exhaustive day of trail breaking. Today we got a casual start with a big bacon and cream cheese bagel breakfast. Around 10:30 we headed down to our 9,500’ cache and by 11:30 we had started back up hill in the sunny weather and thin clouds that can feel like your being microwaved. The team did well and are all back in their tents enjoying some down time and their luxurious accommodations. Hard saying what will happen tomorrow cause there is stormy weather in the forecast. We will shoot for a carry of food and fuel around Windy Corner. Thanks for following along.
HUW & TEAM HAVE A REST/WEATHER DAY AT 11K
Date: June 1, 2021 – Elevation: 11,200′
The forecast ended up being accurate for a change. We got light snow and wind beginning around midnight that has intensified over the morning. Between the wind, snow and lack of visibility we are staying at 11,200’ today in hopes of making a carry to 13,500’ when the weather allows. Until then we are enjoying the heavier meals and lot of good stories in the kitchen tent. While not the most exciting part of the trip, days like this let the legs rest and the heart/lungs acclimate which will only help us up higher on Denali.
HUW & TEAM CACHE SUPPLIES AROUND WINDY CORNER
Date: June 3, 2021 – Elevation: 11,200′
We had a cold clear night and woke to blue skies. The goal today was to cache food and fuel around Windy Corner at 13,500′. The route would take us up Motorcycle Hill and Squirrel Hill. From there it’s across the Polo Field and into the Saddle before Windy Corner. Windy Corner lived up to its name but the winner of the strongest winds today was the Polo Field. The Team did well and enjoyed the amazing views of the surrounding Alaska Range. We are back at 11K Camp eating food and enjoying some warm tents. We hope to move to 14K Camp tomorrow if the weather permits. There is a weather system forecasted that might keep us here for a few days. We’ll let you know when we know.
HUW & TEAM MOVE TO 14K CAMP
Date: June 4, 2021 – Elevation: 14,200′
We got up and packed up camp this morning with blue skies and little to no wind. Having just put in a cache at 13,500’ the terrain would not be new. A warmer day than yesterday had us stuck at times behind slower moving parties. We got to 14,200’ camp located in Genet Basin having done a lot of hard work but the Team built camp and we are getting ready for a late dinner. We got a chance to see 2 of 3 RMI teams as they descended from high camp this evening. Tomorrow we will sleep in, pick up our cache and continue to improve camp. No need to go up high until we get a few nights here and some well earned rest. Thanks for following along.
HUW & TEAM BACK CARRY AND ACTIVE REST DAY
Date: June 4, 2021 – Elevation: 14,200′
It’s different living at 14,200’. The air is colder, you get winded easier and stoves don’t burn as efficient. We slept in today and waited for the sun to hit our tents before heading down to get our cache at 13,500’. The group did well and we were back in camp for an active rest day. The guides finished the kitchen/dining tent and the climbers enjoyed the views of Mt. Foraker and Mt. Hunter. Our 3rd RMI team descended from 17K Camp after a successful summit. Warm tents and good conversations passed the afternoon quickly and we are getting ready for dinner. To better acclimate we’ll take a rest day tomorrow and see what the weather brings.
HUW & TEAM CACHES AT 16,000’
Date: June 6, 2021 – Elevation: 14,200′
We got an early start from Denali’s 14K Camp. The route up to the fixed lines was in the cold shadow of the mountain. This let the team feel how cold their toes and fingers will be on summit day. We climbed up the fixed lines that allow us to access the West Buttress of Denali. The weather was clear and calm at the top. We got some pictures and decided to cache there and head back to camp instead of dealing with descending traffic later in the day. Another active rest day has us enjoying warm tents and sport eating to decrease the amount of food weight we down carry. We’ll likely rest tomorrow and see what the forecast says about a move and summit attempt mid-late week.
HUW & TEAM R&R AT 14,200’
Date: June 7, 2021 – Elevation: 14,200′
We got some more snow last night and woke again to calm and clear weather. After yesterday’s trip up the fixed lines we figured another night at Denali’s 14K Camp would help people acclimate and sleep better before moving to high camp at 17,200’. We are expecting a low pressure weather system to roll in this evening. If it does then we will likely be at 14 for a few more days. If it doesn’t appear then we will likely move up to high camp tomorrow. Time and weather will tell. Until then, warm tents and some card games will keep us occupied. The team is healthy and happy but looking forward to moving up. Thanks for following along.
HUW & TEAM TAKE WEATHER DAY AT 14,000 CAMP
Date: June 8, 2021 – Elevation: 14,200′
The weather front that was forecasted finally arrived in camp last night. While the winds and snow were light the weather above 14,000′ Camp looked foreboding. We are planning on a move to 17,000′ camp on Thursday unless the weather breaks in the morning. With the last push up in sight the team is busy playing cards, engaged in spirited debates on various issues and enjoying walking around camp meeting other climbers.
HUW & TEAM MOVE TO 17,200FT CAMP
Date: June 10, 2021 – Elevation: 17,200′
The weather forecast has been calling for a tapering of the wind and clouds above 17,200’ beginning late Thursday. After being camp and tent bound for almost a week we decided to move camp. The weather was warm, cloudy, windy, hot and cold all over the 7ish hours it took us to move. There was some uphill and downhill traffic that we dealt with. The climbing on the West Buttress is by far the highlight so far. With expansive views of the Peter’s glacier and the black rock of the North Summit the team kept their heads down and did the hard work. We are safe in camp working on dinner and drinking water. A rest day is likely tomorrow as Friday seems to be the day for a summit attempt. Thanks for following along.