Pre-Expedition Panic

North Face of Thunder Mountain
North Face of Thunder Mountain

I wake up eager and excited, but also slightly nervous and stressed. One more day of packing and organising before me and Ben head off to try and climb a new route in the Revelation Mountains in Alaska. There’s excitement in the fact that soon we will soon be where we have been planning and dreaming about for the last 6 months, but there’s also stress from the worry of forgetting some crucial item or missing our flight or any other potential cock ups. I stumble down stairs to a mountain of my most valuable worldly possessions, which I have to organise. But first I go to check my emails. There’s a message from Ben, he’s had an email from Paul at Talkeetna Air Taxi:

Paul says that he’s found out that all the glaciers in the Revelations are very dry this year and he seems very doubtful that he will be able to land us anywhere in the range.


Several months of planning, staring at photographs, piecing together small bits of information to try and find a mountain that will offer us a doable quality unclimbed objective. All psyched up and ready to go. And now we’re being shut down right at the last minute.

We spend the next couple of franticly trying to find a solution. We look at flying to completely different areas that we know very little about. In the end we decide the Kitchatnas will be the best plan B. Although the Kitchatnas are obviously an amazing world class place to climb it’s not where we have spent the past 6 months thinking about.

On arriving in Alaska we spend the night sleeping on the floor of the TAT office. In the morning I use their computer to try and print off some beta on climbing in the Kitchatnas. It all feels very rushed and last minute. Then Paul walks in.

“How’s it going mates?” He says in the classic ‘American trying to do a British accent,’ accent. “You guys all set for the Revs?”

It turns out Paul was maybe being a bit pessimistic in his email. Perhaps because he didn’t want to disappoint us. Just in case he couldn’t drop us where we wanted. He’s says he’s 90% sure he’ll be able to drop us in the Revelations. And later that afternoon he skilfully touches down his small fixed wing aircraft on the east fork of the Fish glacier, right where we want to be.

Panic over, time to go climbing.

Looking towards the mountains from Talkeetna

Fortunately this year the pre-expedition panic and faff has been on a much smaller scale. It’s funny how something seemingly insignificant like browsing through some mountain photos can lead to much bigger life events. A few months ago I randomly cam across this photo (above) of the north face of Thunder Peak in Alaska. And now several months later myself, Ben and Will are actually going there to try and climb it. This process of finding an unknown new objective, planning, organising, applying for grants and sponsorship and maybe even doing some training before finally questing off to the other side of the world has become quite familiar now, this being my forth major expedition. I have tried to become accustomed to enjoy the process rather than get annoyed with faff because I know that the rewards that you get out of these trips don’t just come from the effort you put in while your their, but also the effort you put in before hand.

Many thanks to the MEF, BMC, Alpine Club and Austrian Alpine club for their financial support that has made this years expedition possible.

And also thanks to Rab, DMM, Crux, Mountain House, Chia Charge and Khoo’s Hot Saurce for their equipment and nutritional support.


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