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 Denali 2011: Marty Schmidt - 4th-7th Dispatch from Alaska, USA

 Because of the time difference, the weekend and prior commitments on Monday evening, I haven't been able to relay Marty's messages earlier - here's are the 4 calls he made during that period. Cheers, Daan
Hello everyone following us on Denali,

It's ticking along. We're here roughly 9 days now and we just pushed a carry up to 16,200 ft, on the rib itself, it's called Little Riblet. Denali did really well... a little bit of a headache now, so we're going to acclimatize a bit more before our final push.

A beautiful day today, we went ahead and climbed 2,000 ft in roughly 2.5 hours and we carried our skis and skied all the way down. A little bit steep icy, but the majority was just beautiful; Alaskan cold snow... which is great for skiing. Possibly tomorrow do another acclimatization hike, just to keep the body going and feel good at altitude on our final summit push for 20,320 ft.

On a sad note there were a few deaths last night. About 11 o'clock, they were coming down from the summit and took a wrong route and ended up with not enough protection and one of the clients fell and unfortunately a guide and client passed away and two clients very much damaged. This does happen up here and it has been happening, there was a death before we got on the mountain with another client... so going with a guide is not always fool proof and hopefully you are with the best you can be with at any given moment. Good thoughts and condolences to all the families of the lost ones. It's a little somber up here on the mountain, knowing what just happened. Sometimes death is part of our journey. Denali and I are concentrating on the good things in life all around us.
It's Denali and I on the West Rib... we're at 15,200 ft in a nice bivy;
Macpac Summit... single wall tent hanging in there on a steep edge. Looking up onto the Rib it's looks very good for our summit day tomorrow, so we're gonna try an go for it from here. We're feeling good, acclimatized and the weather is working for us and this is what mountaineering is all about... to find these windows and make sure we're feeling good when these windows happen.
Hi Daan! Man your voice sounds like the tropics! We're just below the summit... we summited a little bit ago. Denali is still on the top of Denali... and we had good ups... we're both feeling good going up and strong coming down. Took us 10 days to climb it... acclimatized well and 'punched' this morning from 8 o'clock... just past 8... and summited in about 5.5 hours... 1.30-ish. The weather was good... it was cold, very cold winds... brought temperatures down to -20C, -25C. Winds probably at 30-40 km/hour gusts... but we had good views... all around 360. We have a good view of Mount Foraker right now, the second highest mountain in the Alaskan Range. So that's a good sign that the weather is going to hold. We still have another 3-4 hours of technical climbing to get down to our camp, which is roughly at 16,200 ft... we're at 20,000 ft now. That's what our journey is and it could be late when we get back to our tent.

Much love to everyone from Denali and I to all our family and friends and loved ones... good thoughts from just below the summit of Denali in Alaska... the beauty of Alaska, right in front of us.
Just wanted to check in to let you know we are safe and sound. We got down safely  to our 16,200 ft camp and today is all about getting down to 14,200 ft... the safer camp. Safer in the sense that it's big and wide and [inaudible]. Right now we're on a ridge so we want to get down from here before a storm comes in as predicted [inaudible]... looks like we're going to be stuck for a few days, so you probably won't hear from us for 2-3 days. We're safe and sound and happy to be up here on Denali in the fine weather we had the last couple of days. The summit was fantastic, it's beautiful right now in the morning... but we can see the thunder showers coming in
from a distance, from the West... so we gotta get out of here quickly. The views up here are spectacular... and the feeling up here on a big mountain like this with good people is the ultimate. Good talking to you...
bye bye from Denali.


Earlier Dispatch:

Hello everybody following Denali and I on Mount McKinley, Denali in Alaska.
It's about 3-4 days since we last talked. During those days we had a couple more storm days and then we pushed hard from our Camp I up to Camp II at 11,200 ft. And then we pushed our heavy load up to Camp III, which is 14,200 ft, roughly about 4,300 m.
Heavy loads going up. We did really well (...) and then we skinned the last little bit up to 14,200 ft and it was just a cracker day. It was windy around Windy Corner (...) notorious for its winds...
(rest of message inaudible)

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


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.
Marty and Denali

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