Lead Guide Adam Smith called in from the Southeast Fork f the Kahiltna Glacier to let us all know that Team Fubar is on the glacier! They flew in under clear skies and landed on the glacier runway at 7,800′. The team is in high spirits and eager to set off up the main body of the Kahiltna in the coming days.
The flight is a very exciting thing. It’s hard to describe the excitement that builds as climbers finalize their packing in Talkeetna, and start to load the aircraft. Each step builds upon the last until you find yourself “wheels up” and ascending over the small town at the end of the road, banking towards a magical range of snowy peaks on the horizon.
The flight takes about 40 minutes and initially passes over green tundra dotted with innumerable lakes and ponds, many of which have cabins along their shores. After a bit, you fly over the first foothills, and then along the toe of the massive Tokositna Glacier, which spills south from the east side of Mount Hunter. An exciting point is when the pilot negotiates one of the narrow passes that seem just barely wide enough to allow the plane passage. One such pass is named “One Shot” in the dark humor of Alaskan bush pilots.
Finally, the planes pass up above the long Kahiltna Glacier before circling to land at a tributary glacier – the Southeast Fork. With a few bumps, the ski-equipped planes glide to a stop amidst some of the most iconic features in the Range, including the mile high Northwest Buttress of the 14,500′ Mount Hunter, rising right above Base Camp.