Denali Prep Course Gets Big Mountain Weather
The start of the 2013 Northwest season was marked by a Denali Prep Course, led by longtime Mountain Madness guide and expedition guru Jacob Schmitz, and a Mount Baker Ski Descent! Some of you may have read about the ski descent already. However, for the Denali Prep Course, things didn’t exactly go as planned. But we did get a good taste of life on a big mountain.
The weather started out gorgeous — clear and sunny and pretty warm. We went to Paradise and prepared to take off with our huge packs and sleds. There were lots of tourists playing in the snow — which meant that we were in A LOT of photos. At one point I left my pack to help a client. When I turned back around, there was a group of foreigners surrounding my pack, posing for photos. One woman held my trekking poles in her hands while a man rested his hand on my pack. The rest of the group clustered around trying to look macho, switching places repeatedly for each photo. It was a little bit awkward to walk into someone’s photo and take my stuff away from them.
Heading up the mountain. Viviane deBros photo
We fled from our celebrity status and hiked up to about 7000 feet, setting up camp on a little ridge with amazing views. The first two days were packed with training: sled rigging, camp construction, crevasse rescue, and of course, expedition cooking. Who says you can’t have pizza on a mountain?
Studying hard. Viviane deBros photo
Inside the cook tent. Viviane deBros photo
On the second night, the wind started to pick up. And it never stopped for the rest of our course. By morning, one of our sleds had blown away (despite being anchored), our cook tent had a gaping hole, and our tents had collapsed. We had to lean toward each other and shout just to be heard above the wind.
One tent down, two about to go. Stephen Colegrove photo
Mountain skydiving. Viviane deBros photo
But everyone was happy to rally. After recuperating for a bit in Ashford, we headed back out. The wind continued and the snow fell, but the rest of the course went well.
Cold outside, warm and happy inside. Viviane deBros photo
Snowy morning. Stephen Colegrove photo
Why drag your sled downhill when it can drag you. Viviane deBros photo
All in all, spirits were high. We may not have had ideal conditions, but we sure had realistic ones!
~ Viviane deBros, MM Guide