Murphy Dome Diaries

A journalist observes life in the far north.

Locked and loaded


When I came down to breakfast, the climbers were talking about snakes and spiders. Ramin Behmand, the physician from San Francisco, told a story about a snake he found on his doorstep. I arrived on the tail end of the story, which involved a cat and which prompted Alec to tell how he used to catch rattle snakes at construction job sites when he lived in Los Angeles. There was a lot of laughing at breakfast, which made me think that the group is gelling into a team.

Gear check followed breakfast. The climbers drove to a nearby airplane hangar and layed out their things—boots, water bottles, helmets, poles etc. Willie (seen above), who lives here in Talkeetna and has been guiding trips since I was 2 years old, loaded the bags into a trailer to go to the airport. The flight is supposed to leave at 2:30pm, and Willie seems to think the weather will allow it.

The climbers are practicing using fixed ropes as I write this. Alec was the first to put on his harness. Andy, the lead guide, did a short demonstration, and the climbers began practicing. The point is to be able to get out of a crevasse should a climber be swallowed by one.


Climber Christopher Tiensch of Texas on the left. Climber Ramin Behmand on the right.


Climber Shahid Ahmed.


Guide and photographer Mark Fisher.


Fisher with climber Mike Oswald, middle, and guide Andy Rich, right.

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2008 by .
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