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Moe Al Thani | Denali
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Denali

Making History

  |   Denali, Uncategorized   |   No comment

Few days ago, we finally woke up and actually packed all our gear and headed up the fixed lines to move to camp 4. The play was to summit the next day. It took us a record 4:30hrs to reach and then to quickly set up camp.  

Nothing fancy just our sleeping tents, and a small wall for our toilet. There is no kitchen tent, as we are very high and it is a waste of resources to carry unnecessary gear. We bearly left our tents. As we were supposed to rest for our summit push.

The wind pattern was, very windy in the morning and then died down by noon, so our decision was to see of its the same the next day to make our move. 

The next day, woken up at 7:00am with hot coco and oatmeal. We had to get ready, quickly me ant the team put on all our layers getting ready For the cold long summit day. I was ready to go by 8:00am so as the team I even did a voice dispatch to everyone wishing me luck. It became 9:30am and still nothing, from the lead guide. Then we heard the news it’s too windy we won’t be moving as it increases the risk of frostbites. So we decided to stick one more day. 

That day at camp 4 was spent doing nothing but think of the summit, we wanted to go badly. We were also afraid that the weather might close on us and we will get stuck on the mountain again, and this time we will run out of food and will be forced to head down.

After a day filled with mixed emotions, we woke up the next day to a beautiful quite day. Where there was no wind, no snow, and not cold at all. we put on our summit clothes, leaving out the big parkas and down pants in our backpacks just in case the weather changes. 

We leaft for he autobahn, which is the first step on the summit participants push. A 300m wall of snow and rock, our team zoomed up in no time catching up with the teams that left before us. That made a bit of a traffic jam as the team infront of us didn’t let us pass on the autobahn. It is a very steep area and there were anchors that we needed to clip in to, and when there is a team infront of you that won’t let you pass that causes a line up and increases the risk drastically.

Anyway we managed, to pass hem by zebra rocks and from there onwards the path was open for my team. In total of 6hrs we managed to read pick hill the last steep part before the summit. By that time I see the summit and I know I’m there just another 20min walking over a knife ridge. A knife ridge is a ridge hat is very narrow, and in this case it’s so narrow that is about halt my boots. The trick is not to think about it and just walk. The moment you think of it, bye bye. 

Approching the summit, we reached with tears and glory. Hugging one another what an amazing day. That was so warm we were wearing our liner gloves. The guides never had such a warm summit day this time of a year. We were so lucky, especially myself and some of the team get extremely cold hands. That was a blessing from God. We quickly to our summit pics, raised our countries flags up high. Then did something everyone there didn’t suspect. We started singing victory songs very loud, that the next team was also trying to copy (they failed).

As we were only half way, and had to also head down to camp 4, we had to leave. The journey back was quick,as we got lower we felt the oxygen and moved faster reaching the autobahn. Where it became very technical again. But the anchors were perfect this year that realy helped. So we reached camp in 3:30hrs decent and all crashed in our tents and were really tired by the long summit day.

We slept, without fully absorbing the fact that not only we summited but all four of us are 7 summiteers and firsts for our countries. It takes a while to sink in.

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The Dish Washing Situation

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   No comment

So here is something interesting for you, how do we clean out dishes. As you know by now water is very scarce. It takes 45min to melt snow for water and it uses a lot of fuel, fuel that we had to carry up the mountain. So no wasting of water here!

First we add snow to the dish and scape it using my spoon, I keep doing it again and again until it’s relatively clean. That means all the big chunks of left over food from the last meal is gone. I try me best to also take out all the bits and pieces but that is always a lost battle.

Then we take a tiny bit of toilet paper to wipe down any leftover oil or food. You only can use one tiny bit of toilet paper as you also need it for other things.

Last you serve yourself your next meal and there is always traces of the previous meal.

On the other hand, my cup has multi uses. First I have my hot drink in it most rid the time either hot coco or tea, then it’s soup time so just add the soup. Depending on what’s the main coarse I either use my cup again or my plastic container. Last is desert either pudding or brownie all in the cup. Then to make it clean again I have my after meal
Hot drink that usually have a bit of everything in it (soup, main, and desert). Voila my cup is clean!

 

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Thumbs Up!

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   1 Comment

Finally, good weather. We had the quickest breakfast ever before we geared up and headed up the fixed lines again for an Acclimatization climb.

We went up the same route we did before to the top of the fixed lines then traversed until reaching the thumb which is just before camp 4. We made it there and back in to camp 3 in record time. We did it up and down in 7hrs reaching an altitude of 5,200m. While traversing the winds were very high, and cold -20c.

Coming back to camp, we had an amazing meal and discussed the way forward. We will take a rest day tomorrow, for last minute preparations before the summit push. We must make sure we have everything we need and packed, we don’t need surprises at camp 4.

The whole team is doing great, and especially after the weather cleared up. Many teams went up for the summit, but we decided that it would be safer to go in 2 days as the forecaster is showing better weather.

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Another Day In Paradise

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   1 Comment

Woken up at 5:30am with the gusting winds against my tent. I put on my earplugs and slept another few hours. Our wake up call was at 9:30am so I went to the kitchen tent. I realized that the winds were very high today so I know we weren’t going out. The guides faces were all gloomy, and not very happy with the weather.

We spent all day maintaining camp, as the high winds were blowing snow to our camp burying our tents. So we have to continually shovel the show from around our tents. The gusting winds didn’t stop all day, reaching 120km/hr. Park rangers and many guides never saw winds this strong in camp three. With our strong team we managed to secure our camp.

One of the other teams on the mountain had their kitchen tent blow away, our team helped them figure out what to do. They are in a tough situation where they are a team or 9 climbers and with no kitchen tent!

When we weren’t helping we were in our tents trying to dry it. As the weather wasn’t too cold today am the snow that was blowing in our tents melted soaking our sleeping bag and clothes. We did our best to dry them but as the sun isn’t out what ever we do won’t work.

There. Is some bad news from higher on the mountain, there are 10 climbers stuck at camp 4. We heard that they are suffering from frostbites and two of them got frostbitten on all their fingers and toes. They have been stuck there for two days, where they couldn’t rescue due to the weather. If it clears up tomorrow, teams will go up for them.

The weather reports are contradicting one report that we get from the same weather forcaster that does Everest forecast for the big teams that the weather will get better tomorrow on the other hand the Denali park forecast is telling us that the winds will continue until Monday.
We spent 8 days in camp 3, just waiting for a window to continue.

That being said, the four of us are in great shape, and in high spirits. We are all fine, and spend the time when not working playing cards and discussing the meals we will have once we are back home. Include us in your prayers,
That we get good weather and have a safe summit and back.

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The Sleeping Bag Situation

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   No comment

Well, let me tell you this my sleeping bag is not only my sleeping bag, it’s also my wardrobe, changing room, and sometimes toilet!

As its gets colder that -25c while we sleep everything outside the sleeping bag freezes. So toothpaste, water bottle, wet wipes, socks, layers I will wear in the morning, even my shoes in my sleeping bag as if it’s cold in the morning my feet will freeze in the morning.

Batteries drain in cold weather so anything with batteries also sleep with me. That means, iPod, iphone, sat phone, iPad……..

When I wake up in the morning all the clothes I wear is in my sleeping bag so it’s also my wardrobe. I change in it as I am sharing a tent.

As for the toilet I will leave it for your imagination, let’s say it’s the most privacy you can ask for in the mountain

So imagine with all these things plus the cold weather and sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Can’t wait to sleep on a bed again!

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Still in Camp 3

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   No comment

I lost count how many days we spent here, been over two weeks with the same clothes, no shower, limited food.
Looks like the weather will be bad for another two days before it gets better.

As of weather reports by Friday the winds will slow down. Yesterday there were people who attempted the summit. I am not sure if any reached but all of them are stuck in camp 4 with frostbite. Pushing for the summit at the wrong time is no joke and there are consequences.

We are still put in camp 3 waiting for a window, all we need is 36hrs to make it to the summit and back here.
We are trying to make the most of our time here, so we spent it playing cards, talking about food and mostly how we miss our families and children.

When the weather hits there is nothing we can really do but stay in our sleeping bags and try not to think much on matters that are not in our hands.

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The Toilet Situation

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   No comment

The Toilet Situation is a tricky one, where number 1 and number 2 can’t be mixed. Each one has a designated area. All human waste must be carried off the mountain, that means we carry our own shit. There are also certain locations to dump number 1.

Doing number one: the best discovery is the pee bottle. where you do not have to sneak out of your warm sleeping bag in the middle of the night when the temperature is -30c. Sharing a tent makes everything tricky where you have to tell your tent mate to turn around.
After doing your business you have a warm bottle in your sleeping bag, if you leave it out of your sleeping bag you will wake up with a frozen pee bottle which is not so much fun to melt. In the morning we have to empty the pee bottle in designated areas in each camp.

Doing number 2: let’s say it’s a toilet with a view and very well ventilated. It’s a bucket with a plastic bag inside that is shared by the whole camp. If you are not the lucky first one then you are up for a smelly surprise when lifting the seat cover. When the weather is cold then everything is frozen, when the sun comes up so does the smells. We operate at the 30s rule, do your business in 10s and clean up in 20s you don’t want frostbites on your cheeks.

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Camp 2

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Our day started 6:00am had bagels with grilled cheese, and oat meal long day ahead I had to load up. Right after breakfast we took down the camp and packed the gear left in our backpacks and sledges. We had about 25kgs or a bit more when we left camp 1, 2,300m above sea level at 8:30am. The sun was still behind the mountain which means it was a bit cold below zero by the first beak an hour later the sun came up so as the heat. We were in a valley of ice, surrounding us. Just like a microwave. By the time we reached the cache point 2,800m it was HOT. About 30 degrees plus now we are picking up the rest of our gear and will head up.
Our sleds and backpack are at 50kgs as we climb and pull. Imagine climbing with a heavy weight and a sledge pulling you back the whole time. Right after the cache point it was a long endless path that you can’t see the end. Another two hours we had a break under the last stretch. I’ve never sweated so much in a mountain heavy loads plus the sun.
Our last stretch is a 400m incline and only incline. I was thinking this will be very hard and I have no idea how to do it. Especially with the sun shining. As I made my way up suddenly the weather flipped it started snowing and it became a whiteout. A white out is when it snows and you all you see is white, we had visibility of only 20m. I’m not sure if this helped us or not. Because of the whiteout I had no idea where camp 2 was so I was just walking blind, following the rope. One foot in front of the other head down and my mind just blank thinking of the weight I’m carrying and what will I write on my blog today.

One thing that helped us is the snow, the 400m wall would have been impossible if the sun was up, even it was snowing I had only once base layer on and was still sweating. I lost a lot of fluids today and drank over 4liters of water.
As I reached the top of the wall, I saw a guy going down, so I asked him “how far is camp?” He said “your there, just around the corner”. Suddenly I got my energy back and got excited.The thing is at altitude 200m is another 30minutes. So it took me another 30min to reach camp 2 with an altitude of 3,500m at 6:00pm. Guess what happens when we reach camp? we have to set up camp, tents, sort out the gear and food put up the kitchen tent that’s even before we boil snow for water.

After all that we crashed, I took an hour nap before I had dinner. We had a heavy carry today, but it made us save a day. All are extremely tired today, especially Raed. He had back pain prior to the climb and it got a bit worse with the heavy load. After some rest at camp he got back to normal.
Respect to Suzanne, she carried as much as us while she is much lighter than us, she attempted Denali before and said that she never carried this much in her previous climbs. They used to cache low and go down the next day to get it.
My personal opinion I’d rather do the work and stay here rather than go back again. Once you do the work you forget how hard it was.

My tent mate Masoud, was also soaked it was really hot. Being Masoud he said that is was easy until he crashed next to me and slept for a few hours. Then he admired that it was a tough one.

One thing I’m happy about today, is the day I changed my clothes and socks. Been 5 days and reached there limit, that’s for everything other than my pants as I only have one pair for the climb. So had a body wipe and change of clothes and I forgot how hard the day was.

For dinner we had tortillas, that with داقوس couldn’t be any better. Made sure that I keep drinking as I lost a lot of fluids today and have to recover fast.

Now snuggled in my sleeping bag getting ready to sleep, after an amazing day.

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Basecamp

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   No comment

Finally they gave us the go ahead to fly at 3:30pm, suddenly the adrenaline kicked it it’s time to go. We boarded a small ski plane for an hour flight to base camp. Soon after takeoff the tall green trees disappeared and all what I can see is snow and mountains. The trip was a bit bumpy due to the air current from the mountains.

Landing in Basecamp was smooth, we are one of the first teams on the mountain. No one Summiteer this year yet.
Soon after we landed we had to set up or camp for the day. We started by carrying 750kgs worth of food and gear off the runway 200m where we set up our camp. We start by leveling the floor, as we will sleep on the floor it really helps if the ground is leveled. We then set up our tents, and then took our personal gear to our tents.
More work in side the tents, inflating the air mattress, taking out the sleeping bag etc.

It started getting cold, so I had to wear heavier layers. About 8pm we had dinner, so far dinner was amazing. As we just flew in we had bread with us so we made burgers. And I had to have my favorite hot sauce with me “دقوس”.

At about 10pm we went to our tents and crashed.
There will be long days ahead of us and we need all the rest we can get .

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Day one…

  |   7Summits, Denali   |   2 Comments

Last minute packing as always, I had over 15 things on my todo list. Sync iPod, char he camera, test blog, set alarm at 5:00am don’t forget your jacket… So you can imagine I was thinking of all the little things and make sure I didn’t forget anything. So I ended up not sleeping also partly because I’m so excited to finally climb my 7th Summit.

Flight is at 9:35am had to leave Sharjah by 6:00am to avoid the traffic, so I had a lot of time to spare. Mean while Masoud landed from Tehran at 6:30am, Masoud being Masoud he has to cause drama in the airport. He decided to leave the airport go to his house on SZR pickup his climbing gear, showe and then come back to the airport to checking for the Seattle flight. Knowing that there is double the security checks to the US flights, I offered that I will pick his bags up and drop check them in so he doesn’t need to. But it’s useless to agree with Masoud. If he doesn’t make I’ll have the tent all for my self ???? 

Raed is already in the Sates and will meet us in Seattle. Suzanne is the fourth member on the team who will meet in Alaska on the 10th.

Just minutes before takeoff Masoud decides to show up so now I’m back to sharing a tent with him. It a 14.5 hour flight and I tried my best to sleep as much as I can.  But as usual there was min sleep.

5 movies and 2 meals later we landed in Seattle at around 12:30pm. Thus having the whole day infront of us. AJ our friend and fellow mountain climber came to see us off from Canada and Raed arrived at 4:30pm se we spent the rest of the day catching up.

We did manage to visit the original Starbucks on Pime Place that opened in 1971. You know the saying Starbucks at every corner? That doesn’t apply in Seattle it’s 2 Starbucks at every corner here. We had to have coffe from there before calling it a night. Due to jetlag we retired for the night at 8:30pm

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