Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Denali Ice Agers train in Grand Canyon

The Ice Agers, an AAI Denali Expedition team, are a mature (all but one are over 50) group of climbers taking a "slow and steady" approach up the West Buttress route. Following a slightly less aggressive schedule, the expedition has been extended four days to allow for extra weather and rest days, an additional camp and acclimatization day on the lower mountain, and it has been slightly modified to accommodate for the extra food and fuel that will be necessary to support the extra days on Denali. For more information on the Ice Agers and to see climber profiles, please see the AAI Ice Agers website.

Ice Agers team members from across the U.S. and Great Britain are sharing training tips and some members have formed training programs with the team's primary guide,
Joseph Anderson. For several of the team members, this will be their second summit attempt on Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, the hi
ghest peak in North America. Because the climb is so rigorous, team members have training climbs or fun climbs scheduled prior to the May 19th departure date.

Art Huseonica, and Ice Ager from Crofton, Maryland, and Ray Bellem, from Prescott, Arizona, recently took a trip to the Grand Canyon, and climbed a strenuous rim-to-river and back out in one day itinerary. Below are photos from the trip and excerpts from letters that Ray and Art wrote to each other after returning home. Once the Ice Agers depart for Denali, you'll be able to follow their progress on AAI's Denali Expedition Dispatches web page.


Our journey was probably the most scenic I've been on. I was surprised that besides one other couple, we were the only folks doing the rim-to-river and back in one day - now I know why, it's like doing two marathons in one day! But what extremes - from 20 degrees and snow at the South Rim to sun and up to 70+ degrees along the river. Plus, a total elevation change of 9200' in a ten hour period.

I'm finally getting the dust cleared out of my eyes and throat from trying to keep up with you for the 17.5 mile journey along those narrow trails; no guard rails to boot!

Let's do this again! - Art

Hi Art,

Glad you're home safe. I just flew to Denver yesterday and I am now anticipating my swim training camp in Boulder starting this Friday. That canyon hike sure gave me bragging rights with my geezer friends at the health club! The canyon required far more stamina and endurance than Whitney, and I felt fine the whole way taking my diluted Gatorade and peanut butter sandwiches.

I got a little nervous during the last two miles when we were ice skating up the trail with the thousand foot
precipice. The only physical effects of the canyon hike was that my right foot got sore two days after we finished - a delayed reaction. Otherwise everything else works fine. Without your desire and encouragement to do the Canyon, I wouldn't have done it on my own - again thanks.

My next guided trip will be Rim - to Rim - to Rim in two days with an overnight on the North Rim. That would total about 4
8 miles with over 20,000' elevation change in two days! If you want to go, you will have the best guide in the Canyon and you can't beat the guide fee - a Club Sandwich at Denny's.

My best - Ray

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