A journalist observes life in the far north.
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.