The April 24th team is en route to KIA (Kahiltna International Airport), located at 7,200′ (2200m) on the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier.
They left Anchorage at about 8 am this morning and drove 45 minutes to the famous town of Wasilla, Alaska (“I can see Russia from my yard!”) where they took a break for coffee and snacks. They then proceeded another hour and a half to the end of the road, Talkeetna. Located at the junction of three rivers, the Susitna, Chulitna and the Talkeetna, it is home to some world-class fishing. It is also home to the nearest airstrip to the south side of the Alaska Range and the drone of turbo-props is something you get used to on a sunny day up there.
The team checked in with the Rangers at the Talkeetna Office of Denali National Park and Preserve, and settled up on the requisite mountaineering fee, which the Park is considering raising some unknown percentage for next year (write your Senator!). The Rangers also treated the team to an informative presentation of the challenges, nuances and regulations that are unique to the mountain we call Denali. The team then drove over the our friends at Talkeetna Air Taxi, where they weighed all their gear in preparation for the flight to Base Camp.
The hours before the flight can be pretty hectic, but lead guide Dave Staeheli has a remarkable system that keeps everyone’s stress levels at a minimum. They loaded up two De Havilland Beavers and taxied down the tarmac. It is about a 45 minute flight in a Beaver and they should be landing just…about… now!
Dave Dacquino (AKA Peter Parker, photo journalist) sent the following ohotos from the tarmac in Talkeetna: