Olivia and I recently wrapped up a successful season on Denali during which we each led separate groups to the summit in late May and then returned to co-lead another group to the summit in early July. This was the second consecutive season where we each did two climbs. In addition to our Denali programs we worked on a reality TV program, which will run on prime time in the Fall of 2008. These were John's 17th and 18th Denali expeditions and Olivia's 9th and 10th.
We both agreed that our program in May felt a touch on the cold side. Our summit bid took place amidst a windstorm that punished climbers that were not perfectly dressed. We made it to the summit, but only after taking repeated breaks on the way to the top where we literally hid behind various rock and snow features to get out of the wind. The summit itself was so windy that we coiled our ropes in for long enough for them to tap their axes on the summit and then immediately started our descent.
John reached the summit with Kurtiss Stecker on May 30, and Olivia reached the top with Steve Megison, Stephen Megison, and Ted Brown on May 30 as well.
Immediately following our May Denali expeditions we started work on a reality TV program, which we are not currently able to talk about. It appears this will air in the Fall of 2008. More details when we are able to pass them on. The project was remarkably stressful, yet in the end stands as one of the weirder and more interesting experiences we have had in the mountains.
For our second program Olivia and I joined forces and returned to Denali with a family we have worked for quite a bit in the past. After difficult trips for each of us in May, this trip was a dream. We were delayed at the start of the trip by a day due to poor visibility at the base camp airstrip, and then flew onto the mountain on June 19. The temperatures had finally risen, and we were treated to an almost perfect Denali expedition. Good weather, relatively warm temps, and 100% to the summit. We reached the top on July 1 with our good friends Kim, Tor, and Shane, along with Assistant guide Robert Montague. We made it out to Talkeetna just in time to celebrate the 4th of July, "Alaskan style," which of course involves large quantities of fish and game, explosives, and various beverages.
We are currently working out the details for our summer 2009 season up North. We are tentatively considering another West Buttress climb on Denali, a trip to Mt. Logan (North America's second highest summit, and Canada's highest), and two shorter trips into the Ruth Gorge and Little Switzerland. Details to follow.