June 13, 2013
We arrived in Chitna, AK, bags packed, boots on and ready to fly from sea level to 10,000ft. on the Kultlan Glacier, deep in the Wrangle Mountains. Mt. Bona rises to 16,400 feet and is a wonderful sight from the air. On the flight in, our bush pilot Paul Claus, pointed out things like wild buffalo on the river bed and recently skied routes on University Peak. The bush flight in is definitely one of the more memorable experiences of the whole trip. When you’re the only plane in the air for hundreds of miles things feel pretty remote. That is until you land on the glacier and then you realize there is not another soul around…at all!
Each day on the glacier brought a new adventure. The group was very strong with lots of experience. Coupled with excellent weather the trip progressed smooth as could be. As soon as base camp was established and stomachs were filled the group hit the sack to prepare for a week of expedition style climbing. The nature of Alaska style climbing requires groups to bring enough food and equipment to take on any conditions. Due to the high altitude profile of the mountain and the resulting need for a good supply of provisions, things have to be done in pieces, or carries. This year the group was able carry and move camps each day. Thanks to good health and great weather the team stood on top of Mt. Bona on day six of the expedition, truly a strong pace.
All in all things went about as smooth as they possibly could. However, one of the great lessons of climbing is to always remember: complacency kills. Don’t ever let your guard down, and always be prepared for the worst. When things are good life is easy. When things go bad, you have to be ready and able to deal with them.
Thank you to the group for working so hard and putting us into position to succeed. Thank you to Paul Claus and Ultima Thule Lodge, and thank you to Sheldon Kerr for always having my back on this trip.
Mountain: Mt. Bona (16,400)
Location: Wrangell/St. Elias National Park (Alaska)
Dates: May 18-29, 2013
Guides: Sheldon Kerr (lead) and Austin Shannon
Summit: 100% …and home safely.