I just found a great article on a BRITISH JOINT SERVICES ALASKA EXPEDITION 1962 from the Diaries of John Hinde it gives a great description of the early days of climbing on Denali. Many thanks to Fiona Wild John’s daughter for publishing this tale. It shows how punishing Denali is and the epics they had on the trip. It was also a lot different from a modern day trip where the logistics are all there it is well worth a read, DIARIESOFJOHNHINDE.WORDPRESS.COM
BRITISH JOINT SERVICES ALASKA EXPEDITION 1962
There are no Porters on Denali unlike the Himalayas and you have to take the 3 – 4 weeks food and gear with you dragging a sledge and moving your camps up the mountains, it is brutal. All your gear is weighed I think it was over 150 lbs some on your back and the rest of the sledge that you dragged like some arctic warrior.
In addition you fly into the glacier and if lucky land on it at about 6000 feet. On the was you fly over the famous” One Shot Pass” and it is exciting stuff especially as there is 4 of you plus kit for a month plus skis in a very small aircraft. You feel so vulnerable.
I was on Denali in 1996 it was a great trip the plane in front crashed on the glacier and we flew back to TalkeEtna, a few hours later we flew back in again and landed safely on the glacier at 6000 feet with the huge crevasses at the end of the runway waiting,
It was some expedition one can only imagine me on skis towing a sledge it was purgotry with some wild weather that had us stuck for 3 days at a low camp. It snowed for two nights storm-bound and at one point I thought we were not going to make it. The rest were up at 11000 feet and I was with a sick pal alone.
We were up all night clearing the snow and that was a huge learning curb. When the storm cleared we were still there. Sadly two of the members went back and I rejoined the expedition but lost so much acclimatization but made it up to the high camps when the weather turned. We then had a long wait at 14500 while two tried to summit and then an epic retreat that nearly ended costing us our lives as we went of route into a crevasse where one fell in it was a wild blizzard.
In between we went up the fixed ropes Dave Peel skied down from a high point that was incredible. Learning to build campsites with walls to stop the wind and the crazy bitter cold every day when the sun went down in minutes.
John Hindes article is a great adventure in 1962 and so worth a read of a different era and they were lucky and got the summit in. Many of my pals have been back to MacKinley/ Denali and all have had great trips many have summited and more than a few had epics.
What a great story of the adventure in 1962 and thanks to Fiona Wild John’s daughter for the great story of John Hindes adventure in 1962.