Valdez, AK (May 27, 2009)
A final update from the Resolute crew on St. Elias. While they didn’t make the summit, they spent almost a month on the mountain and encountered everything from bluebird powder turns to sketchy snowpack and socked-in weather for days on end. An adventurous endeavor, indeed.
“Thanks everyone for your comments and support. Our team did not reach the summit of St. Elias. We encountered a highly volatile snow-pack at 12,000 feet. That, combined with poor weather for the following four days, left us tent-bound and low on food. On the 13th of May we decided it best to start descending the mountain.
Dave gets some turns at 10,000 feet.
Taylor and Dave rode from 10,500 while Tauru and Steve down-climbed. The weight was tremendous and descent brought on troubles of its own. Dave lost his edge on a 55 degree slope with a heavy pack and took a scary ride down 200 feet of vertical but managed to regain control. Tauru and Steve were lost in a whiteout for 24 hours and had to bivy on the shale ridge while Dave and Taylor listened to desperate shouting from 2000 feet below. Tauru took a 40 foot fall on the shale ridge that re-invigorated his zeal for life. After that, Tauru and Steve took a day of rest and recuperation while Dave and Taylor spend the day making turns around 4,000 feet.
Camping on the approach.
Two more days of going up and down ridges brought us to the top the alder tree line. Finding our original route up filled in, we were forced to down climb a very steep creek running over low quality mudstone. Multiple rappels down waterfalls and slips into wet cold water left the team exhausted upon reaching sea level at the Taan Fjord.
Taylor in the igloo.
Our pickup from the good folks at the Icy Bay Lodge could not be completed because of thick ice pack in the bay. The team was forced to hike 12 miles of beach line while dragging sleds and navigating through bear-infested alder to reach a possible pickup spot. On the morning of the 20th, a satellite phone call was made to George and Jill and we saw the landing craft weaving through the ice hours later. Our friend on the radio and the water had reached us. We had about a day and a half of food remaining and were highly fatigued. Stepping onto the boat ended our time on the flanks of St. Elias; the feeling of relief was enormous.
Packing up the food. Top Ramen — the healthy man’s choice.
We took the best showers of our lives at the Icy Bay Lodge and enjoyed food and drink with the amazingly helpful and friendly people that provided communication with us during our time on the mountain. Then, we made it through the 48-hr run through the Gulf of Alaska and are now in Valdez, AK where the team will go its separate ways and make it back home. Dave and Taylor are busy hitchhiking south, while Steve sets up shop to go fishing for the summer out of Valdez.
Thanks to Colin, George, Jill, John, Les, Jody, Michelle and Sara and all the other people we met along the way that donated their help and information.
Resolute Team signing out.”
– Tauru Chaw