Mt. Bona, Alaska 2009 Expedition Report
by IMG Guide Mark Allen
May 28, 2009
SEATTLE : George and I put the last duffles onto the air freight to Alaska this morning. Now are gear awaits us in AK! The team arrives in Anchorage on the 30th for a meeting and gear sort. Following the meeting will be dinner at the famous Glacier Brew House for our final calorie load. The next morning join Paul for preparation to fly into the Klutlan Glacier. Looking forward to meeting the team for a pre-trip fiesta in Anchorage!
May 30, 2009
ANCHORAGE: Eric Stevenson arrived today to help cross the T's and dot the I's on the Bona team's group gear and food. We have plenty of bacon, cheese and tortillas to keep the group happy. We might even gain weight on this trip! The team had a great time mingling today and going over the details of our trip. We all enjoyed a great meal at the Glacier Brew House, our last taste of a fresh veggies for a while. We have a lot of hoops to jump through before we get to the glacier, but so far we are having little resistance and everything is flowing smoothly. Everyone looks ready and seems well prepared. Tomorrow we will be road tripping 5 hours East deep into Alaska to the Towship of Chitina, Southeast of the famous Copper River and a stones throw from the Yukon. Here we meet Paul Claus and his Turbo Otter bush plane on a remote airstrip. It is here where we get the green or red light on our fate for the next 48hours. If we are lucky we will fly central into the range making camp on the Klutlan Glacier at 10,000ft near the glacial landing strip. If not we will be flown to Pauls backcountry lodge for the evening to await better weather. We have two mottos right now "hurry up and wait" and "it is what it is". It is by these profound words that keep us sane and in a steady state of Zen during situations in which we have no control. It's all an adventure for us now. Yet, we have high pressure in the forecast for the next 72hrs called an Omega Block! This looks good for us and the next post should be from the Glacier. More Later.
June 1, 2009
The group met and organized on Saturday in Anchorage, then breezed through the 4-5 hour drive to Chitina on Sunday. Rather than spend the night at the bush pilot's lodge on the Chitina River, bush pilot Paul Claus was able to fly the group directly on to the Klutlan Glacier at 10,500 feet at the base of M. Bona in his turbo Otter. This is a broad, gentle landing area on the Klutlan Glacier and the normal site for base camp.
Mark reported perfect weather, no wind and a very happy group at camp last evening. They will rest, acclimatize and do some low exertion training today. Mark will consider making the group carry to the next camp at 12,000 feet tomorrow. The group will spend at least a second night at base camp before moving up to occupy the 12,000 foot camp.
June 3, 2009
The entire group is doing very well; all are healthy, in high spirits and excited to be on Mt. Bona. The team did a carry yesterday to Camp 1 at 12,080 feet. The weather continues to be perfect but relatively cool which makes for nice travel. They carried 7 days of food and fuel up to the camp site, dug tent platforms and constructed snow walls in anticipation of moving up to occupy the camp today. Mark anticipates taking 6 hours today to return to Camp 1 with the remaining gear.
June 5, 2009
On June 3rd the group arrived at Camp 1 on schedule and spent a good night there. On June 4th the guides scouted the route up to Camp 2 at 14,000 feet while the team took a well deserved rest day. Today the team moved up to 14,000 feet in deteriorating weather but has established a very secure camp with an exposed serac wall (a vertical chunk of ice) providing good wind protection.
June 8, 2009
The weather turned out to be good on June 6th so four of the team members (all but Jim and J.J., who opted to take a rest day) elected to go for the summit with the two guides. The four team members and two guides made the summit, 16,400 feet, and returned to high camp tired but happy.
On June 7th, guide Mark Allen summited for a second time with Jim and Jessica "J.J." Easter. They made it back down to high camp safely and equally happy. The rest of the team had considered climbing nearby Mt. Churchill on June 7th since they had the extra day, but after the Bona climb decided that one summit was good enough and instead took the day off.
The entire team will descend this morning all the way back to the landing site. They will be down at Base Camp by 4:00 pm and hopeful of a pickup by the bush pilot at his earliest convenience, conditions and weather dependent.