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Major Major

Denali - May/June 2016

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Seeking: Committed partners to do Denali/West Butt in May/June unguided, and for my first time. My preference for approach is a focus on semi-fast/light and low-tech and/or skiing as much of the route as possible. If anything, the ski would be nice for mini-excursions from 14,200 doing laps up to 17,000 until ready for final summit push.

 

Experience: Approximately 35 summits in the PNW and in other regions (including 7 of Rainier), including moderate grade ski descents -- most of which is on Mt. Hood. My training is limited to avy and crevasse rescue only. I am keenly aware of the pain/humility of failure and the rush of success, but never take either for granted, and I believe this has prepared me for bigger mountains. Partnership is key.

 

Next Step: PM if interested and you feel we would be a good fit given this approach and experience. My initial itinerary maximizes time and weight with flexibility for downtime and storms and is ready to be shared. This is simply a first attempt to locate interested climbers. Proximity to Portland would be convenient but not necessary.

 

Thank you.

 

The Major

 

Ps. I'm also game to meet up and climb with any skimo frequenters of Mt. Hood, regardless of interest in bigger objectives. December is around the corner. :)

Edited by Major Major

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To clarify, skiing is a preference but I'm also open to non-skiing approaches. I'm looking forward to some training excursions to any amenable/complementary partners this winter. Already a few of you have inquired, and I anticipate setting up some meet-ups early 2016 (late 2015 if we're lucky!).

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Bump.

 

Thanks for those who have contacted me so far; please let me know if you're still interested. Now that it's January, I'm opening this post again. Skiing or non-skiing are both options at this point. Late May, early June is the preference. Now is a good time to start planning gear, travel logistics, etc. Contact me if interested. Thanks.

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I have the skimo skills you are looking for and the desire to climb denali. i am also looking to build partnerships with keen, prepared, strong, fun individuals. I wasn't planning on denali this year (going to waddington) but i am interested in getting out on some cascade objectives to get to know you to become a potential partner. let me know if this appeals to you. i live in squamish.

 

jm.savoie51@gmail.com

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denali on snowshoes looked like absolute hell...

 

even if your partners are not strong skiers i would still recommend them traveling on skis to 11 camp, you can continue on with your skis up to 14 camp and the top, most climbers feel comfortable climbing from 14 camp to the summit unroped FWIW.

 

23515317451_12af803635_b.jpg

 

feel free to get in touch if you need any specifics on skiing the upper mountain.

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denali on snowshoes looked like absolute hell...

I've done a number of AK range trips, all on skis, including Denali. If I were to do Denali again (I won't as I intentionally sold all my Alaska kit to prevent it) I would go with snow shoes. We ditched our skis after day 2 at 11K...too icy above to use them. Skiing down hill with a AK size pack and sled is ridiculous.

 

Would love to hear how skiers manage the pack and sled on the way down. Carry two sets of boots, ski and climbing boots? Climb in ski boots?

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Would love to hear how skiers manage the pack and sled on the way down. Carry two sets of boots, ski and climbing boots? Climb in ski boots?

 

Insisting that skis are the only reasonable mode of travel for a particular winter outing is the ultimate climber humblebrag.

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the sled certainly presents challenges for the skier. Is it not possible in a group of skiers to just fit all the supplies into the packs? yes heavy packs, but no stupid sled. i know for my self i can safely ski steep shitty snow with a 40 lbs pack just fine.

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i know for my self i can safely ski steep shitty snow with a 40 lbs pack just fine.

 

How about a 70 lb pack? After a few weeks weight obviously goes down due to consumption of food/fuel, but packs are still mighty big.

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haha, yes was a humble brag...but i aint on instagram so i have to show off somewhere!

 

as far as skiing with the sled, there are a couple methods that work well.

 

basically goes like this- on the up you have 2 sleds of supplies. by the time you are heading down you can fit it all into 1. take your extra sled and sandwich on top of the other. tie a rope to the front and one to the back. on flats the skier in front pulls the sled, on the down the skier in back controls the speed of the sled keeping the ropes taught. let the sled roll around as much as it needs.

 

for me (on a snowboard, could be done on ski too) i did the "wakeboard" method. let the sled go in front of you, hold on to a rope tied to back of sled. don't ski faster than the sled moves, don't allow slack to get in the rope. when you need to change the sleds direction give a tug on the rope to redirect the path of the sled.

 

I rode all the way from 11k to 7,800 on hero corn in about 15 minutes, while snowshoers were hating life (and having the sled run over their heels and pulling on all their partners, moving very very slow. That same trip to basecamp took snowshoers 2 days.

 

RE: ski terrain on the mountain

 

ski hill and 11k camp have great skiing around it, 14k even better. there were skiers hucking backflips off of seracs, there were powder days we enjoyed on days too stormy to move but perfect for skiing around camp. upper mountain terrain is much more variable but maxes out at 40 degrees at the autoban if you ski down the west butt route. Skiing from around 16-17k to 14 camp on the lower orient is great.

 

I had the most memorable turns of my life between the football field and zebra rocks. full speed smooth windblown at 19,000 feet...

 

Many skiers were doing yo-yo laps moving gear up the mountain. when you get to the uphills, load your pack w/ 40 lbs and ski up. drop off your gear and ski down with an empty pack, do 3 laps and you've got all your gear up to the slope while having fun. at the flats, load up the sled and drag the full load across the flats. this method works great along the lower mountain.

 

As far as difficulty, depends where you go down, but i would compare it to a cold day down the fuhrer finger on rainier, while being light headed.

 

RE- gear

 

for west butt just use ski boots. I took TLT 5's with a closed cell foam under the liner. 40 below overboots on the upper mountain, took them off for the descent. Oonly reason to take mountain boots is if you are going for more technical routes.

 

Skimo gear has changed alot since 2000...

 

I could go on and on for ever, but i'll stop now unless there are any more specifics people would like.

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Thanks for the dialog everyone. This is very helpful. I also was contacted by a guy on TAY who mentioned he skied all but 500 feet of the entire route, taking approximately 14 days from 8k camp and back. His input validated my suspicion that walking Denali/West Butt isn't the only option.

 

I can imagine that a scoured, icy condition time-period would be less than ideal, but in more cases than not, i'm hearing positive feedback from skiers on Denali. But the truth is, snowshoes are the antithesis of my lifestyle; I absolutely abhor them. So skis are the only option on a slog mountain. Besides, how can you say no to back flips off seracs? JMS001, looking forward to continuing the discussion. Chritoph, thanks for the input, really appreciate.

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Hi,

I've got most of the cold weather gear, been up high before, although my skiing ability is limited (no couloirs, nothing too steep).

I'm in Squamish as well, let me know when you're doing something near Vancouver.

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Hi,

I've got most of the cold weather gear, been up high before, although my skiing ability is limited (no couloirs, nothing too steep).

I'm in Squamish as well, let me know when you're doing something near Vancouver.

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