|Mark and Jessie on the summit|
Well, the climbing season is finally winding down. I have one more week of work before the federal government cuts me loose for the season. It’s a great time to compile the photos from the year and reflect back on the season. As usual it was full of new and unique experiences.
I had the privilege of doing the first operational short-haul with our new helicopter, pilot, and management structure. We now use an A-star B3 contracted from Temsco helicopters. Our pilot Andy has been awesome to work with, and is always game to try something new as long as it’s safe. A couple times this year I got the call: “Kevin, we’ve got an incident, 3AE is headed your way to pick you up and head direct to the scene.” Those are the exciting days on the job. Unfortunately in those cases the climbers didn’t have a chance of rescue and died from injuries. Denali is one of those environments where you have to get extremely lucky to survive a major mistake. Too often we find that our best efforts as rescuers are not good enough.
On a lighter note, my team made it to the summit on the best day I’ve yet seen at 20,000 feet. It was completely calm and actually warm on summit day. I was wearing softshell clothing and the lightest layers I had with me. On the summit ridge we peered down the south face to find our friends and fellow rangers Mark and Jessie coming up to finish the fifth ascent of the Slovak Direct. We all ran to the top together to enjoy the perfect weather and unparalleled view.
All in all it was an incredible season.
I posted a mix of pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/alaskabackcountry/Denali2010#