10 Days and Counting....

Following last year's adventure on Aconcagua (The Heights of Vacheron) I will be leaving for Mt. McKinley, Alaska, in just ten days.  Usually called by it's native name of Denali, at 20,320 ft. above sea level the summit is less lofty than it's South American neighbour.  But interestingly, it's vertical rise of 18,000 ft is greater than that of Everest!

10 Days and Counting....Karsten's Ridge

While altitude may not be the primary challenge on Denali, wind and weather more than make up for it.  The trip begins with a ski plane ride onto the Kahiltna glacier and you remain on snow and ice for the duration.  This year's climbing season has been plagued by high winds.  Unfortunately a fatality has shocked my guide company so things are a bit sombre too.  A 61-year old man suffered a heart attack after carrying equipment up to a higher camp.  According to reports, he appeared in good condition right up until the attack and, in spite of two guides and park rangers applying first aid immediately, he died on the mountain.  Another reminder that life is fragile...

But I'd rather focus on the positive.  Training has gone well and I feel strong.  Weekend hikes with a 60lb pack were greatly aided by weekday mountain bike rides carrying a 20lb pack and the usual exercise route.  Some practice was required to refresh basic rope techniques and prusiking (crevasse self-resuce).  Probably shocked a few residents of my apartment building by hanging off the balcony 10 Days and Counting.....

Now I'm sorting gear....do I really need that? Do I have a back-up if it breaks? Is there something lighter?

10 Days and Counting....
I think of the book,
05/20/2009 - 21:01
'Eiger Dreams' by John Krakauer, when ever I hear of Mt. McKinley!  Translated to Swedish as this that I have, it's re-named to  'A Mountain Higher Than Everest',  and for once I think that's a better title! Please bring a little stone piece from near the top,  I would love to get it when we meet! I read so much about Mt. McKinley, but there was never any time and now I'm to old , coording your report just one year from a heart attack! On the other hand when I for some years were medical officer, we made a commando march to the most Southern Glacier in Sweden.  140 km walk in the lower Swedish Alpine territory, with 28 kg on the back when we started our 5 days trip. I was than, 43 years old and the only Doc who had done it OK, go for it Dean! I'll be thinking of you What watch will you wear, I suppose the OS ? Enjoy the walk and climbing ! Doc
Which Watch?
05/21/2009 - 18:17
As to what watch I'll be wearing....Alex is attempting to arrange the loan of a new GenII OS that I can subject to cold weather testing .  Perferrably with rubber strap .
Of course you will forget it on the top :-) nt
05/21/2009 - 22:47
Not my style!
05/22/2009 - 03:10
I hadn't thought of that angle Doc . You know I'll share a secret...my original 23,000 ft. Overseas was sold to finance in-part the Denali trip.  I won't hesitate to trade a "thing" for an "experience".  I can always get another watch! As for marketing in general, it seems that the most common theme is to advertise "things" as substitutes for real life experience, or as Freud would say as sublimation of other desires.  Just recall how often sex, power and status are used to sell everything from cars to shampoo.  Same with watches, too. Now if Vacheron wants to break new ground with a new generation, they should encourage quality of life, of which a fine watch is a small but intrinsically rewarding part.  Just my humble opinion .
to trade a "thing" for an "experience" - I love that, Dean! (nt)
05/24/2009 - 10:12
Re: 10 Days and Counting....
05/21/2009 - 00:51
Wow, that's some equipment! How long will be the hike up? Hope everything will go fine. Enjoy the ride and the most important thing of all: take care!
Climb High, Sleep Low
05/21/2009 - 18:21
Hi Tacha.  The routine for this type of climbing is to take your time going up to get acclimatized to altitude and weather.  Also, extra trips are needed to man-haul the gear up.  So it will take about fifteen days to go up and two days to come back down!  Bad weather will add extra days .
Will your OS Chrono be taking the trip with you?
05/21/2009 - 03:33
Dean, I wish you the best fortunes and good whether for this adventure!  BR, Dan
Hi Dan
05/21/2009 - 18:23

Hopefully I'll have a new OS "test watch" in time for the trip...otherwise it will be my stand-by Timex Ironman.

Re: 10 Days and Counting....
05/21/2009 - 05:13
Dean, you have my best wishes for this awesome trip. I know you are ready for the challenge and excitement ahead. I will look forward to your reports and pictures of your climb. Be well and take care on the journey. You have our support here on the Lounge! Best wishes, Matt
Thanks Matt
05/21/2009 - 18:27
I certainly hope to have a good story to tell when I return...but also hopefully non-epic .
This is going to be one hell of an adventure. I need to see if I can
05/21/2009 - 11:35
have what we had spoken about sent to you before you leave
Keeping my fingers crossed (nt)
05/21/2009 - 18:28
Alex - Another Urgent Request
05/21/2009 - 19:23
I would propose that you urgently send me as well a Gen-II OS - wouldn't it be great and interesting to compare the performance of the OS given to Dean for his trip, to the performance of mine, in the harsh and torrid London environment?
LOL, nice try...
05/21/2009 - 22:28
perhaps you could subject it to severe acceleration aboard the London Eye?
Have a safe trip!
05/21/2009 - 18:46
And enjoy your climb. For me mountain climbing is best experienced through Krakauer's books! Bill
Krakauer, Messner & Bonington
05/21/2009 - 22:34
Jon Krakauer, Chris Bonington and Reinhold Messner are my favorite mountaineering authors.  I know Messner doesn't have the literary style (or personality) of the other two, but he is by far the best mountaineer alive IMHO.
Good luck my friend
05/21/2009 - 19:24
I know it's one of your passions, but it still must take a lot of b*lls to go through it! Good luck, and I look forward to the usually stunning pictures! Francois
No guts, no glory
05/21/2009 - 22:39
Thanks so much Francois .  At the time, one must be "in the moment" and concentrate so much on the next step or hand-hold that fear or excitement just don't occur until afterwards.  But every trip there are one or two points when I ask myself what the heck am I doing here!!
Have a great trip, Dean...
05/21/2009 - 21:36
Stay safe and don't fall on your crev-ass I'll be thinking of you. Nice, sleeping bag, BTW! Best wishes, Joseph
Taiga of Vancouver
05/21/2009 - 22:44
Thanks for your "warm" thoughts Joseph!  The sleeping bag is from a little Vancouver company called Taiga.  They make some of the best gear in the world, at reasonable prices too!  It's rated for -35C and is extra long to keep clothes and boots inside where they can stay warm overnight.  If it gets really cold, you put your parka on too .
Good luck, keep safe and come back in one piece! (nt)
05/22/2009 - 07:20
Thanks Kazumi, I'll try! (nt)
05/23/2009 - 02:04
Stay safe and warm, Dean! (nt)
05/24/2009 - 10:54
The Secret Is....
05/25/2009 - 18:26
HYDRATION!!  Really, the best way to stay healthy and alert is to drink a ridiculous amount of water...8 litres a day or more.  The only drawback is the urge to pee in the middle of the night .  Thanks for your kind thoughts Radek!