Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Mt. BONA 16,421ft
Date: May 21nd - Jun 1nd, 2011

“The Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest National park in the U.S…combined with the Kluane National Parks [in the Yukon] is it the largest protected mountain echo system on the North American continent. Again Combining it with the Chugach Range to the West it the largest area of protected wilderness on earth” ~Colby Coombs

If you are looking for the next step in mountaineering, an introduction into expedition climbing, or simply to join the team effort of climbing a big Alaskan peak than look no further. Climb Mt. Bona with International Mountain Guides with lead guide Mark Allen this spring. George Dunn IMG owner and director of IMG Alaskan Ascents says “ This is the best progression for folks interested in going on to climb Denali.”

Mt. Bona is a dormant composite volcano seated at the top if the Klutlan Glacier and is the highest 16,000-foot peak in Wrangell/St. Elias National Park. This range sees a fraction of the visitors when compared to Alaska Range and for that has an aura of remoteness that joins this trip. It is most likely the least visited National Park in the U.S. Surprisingly it’s easily accessible from Anchorage via the world renowned bush pilot Paul Clause that is an adventure in it of itself. He is the gateway to the Wrangle Mountains.

Skills covered on this expedition are learned as you participate as a member of the climbing team. The materials that we will be covering are in a progression to the skills learned in other alpine courses or climbs you have been on. Do not be mistaken this is a climbing expedition, but there are going to be several opportunities to broaden your skills as a Mountaineer. Bellow is a list of skills you can expect to see on this expedition.

*Expedition gear and its use
*Basic skills with ice axe and crampons
*Sled rigging and use
*Expedition camp building and maintenance
*Construction of snow caves and snow shelters
*Ascending and descending fixed ropes
*Building snow anchors and anchor systems
*Expedition glacier travel and route finding
*Crevasse rescue practice
*Lectures on high altitude medicine and prevention of cold weather injuries
*Avalanche hazard evaluation

BOOK THIS TRIP: Contact me directly so I can walk you through the registration personally. Contact me via e: mail at alpinelines@gmail.com and I can get you all squared away.

To learn more about this expedition go to the INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN GUIDES web site in the RELATED LINKS above. Looks forward to seeing you all this spring in AK.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Bona Team Safely Off The Mountain

June 2, 2010
It turns out the team made it to within 250 vertical feet of the summit this time before being shut down by the weather. They descended back down to high camp in white out conditions. The group rested, packed up camp and headed down to base camp at 3:30 pm, arriving in the late evening. Mark says the whole team gave it their very best throughout the trip and all are in high spirits.
They awoke to clear skies this morning, called in to the IMG office with a weather report and we passed it on to Paul Claus our bush pilot via email. Paul emailed back at 9:42 a.m. Alaska time to let us know the group was safely off the mountain and in flight to Chitina. They’ll drive the 4 hours from Chitina to Anchorage (hopefully stopping enroute for showers) and should arrive in Anchorage late this afternoon.
Congratulations to the Bona team for a job well done!
George Dunn

Bona Team Shutout
June 1, 2010
Mark called in this afternoon with a brief update:
The team left High Camp for the summit this morning around 7am.  After a few hours of climbing they pulled the plug and turned around as another storm rolled forcing them back to camp in whiteout conditions. Everybody is doing just fine and had a blast throughout the climb.  After a well deserved break they’ll pack up and head downhill to the landing strip this evening and wait for their pick-up tomorrow.
We’ll have some more details and photos from the trip in a later post, but that’s it for now.
Good effort guys!
Tye Chapman

Bona Update
June 1, 2010
Mark Allen called in this morning to report that they were stalled at High Camp overnight, but will give it one more go today keeping in mind they need to be back at BC tomorrow for their rendezvous and flight out.
More to come…
Tye Chapman
May 31, 2010
Mark Allen called in this afternoon to report that the team has enjoyed their rest day after getting shutdown on their first summit attempt over the weekend. After dinner this evening they plan to leave High Camp (~9pm) with hopes of reaching the summit in the early morning (~6am). If all goes as planned they’ll get all the way back down to Base Camp tomorrow night (June 1) with their first available pick-up in the morning of June 2.
Don’t forget these guys are working with almost 24 hours of daylight.
More to come…

Tye Chapman

May31, 2010
Mark Allen called in late yesterday afternoon to report that the team gave the summit a go but were shut down 400ft shy of the summit.
They left camp at 2am in map and compass visibility but after an hour they got above the marine layer of clouds to find some great views. From there they switched from snowshoes to crampons and continued on until team member Larry took a 20ft crevasse fall. After just a few minutes in the “blue room” the team executed a perfect extraction.  With nobody hurt and the weather still on their side they continued up to the shoulder of the summit ridge where they encountered 30-40mph winds and sub-zero temps which turned them just 400ft shy of the summit. The team returned to high camp and will take a rest day today. Weather permitting the team will give it another go early tomorrow morning.

The team is still in excellent spirits and is looking forward to round 2 here soon.
Tye Chapman

May 28, 2010
Just off the phone with Mark Allen and the Bona Team. They’ve made their push to High Camp and are “diggin in like ticks” even though the weather continues to be borderline perfect!
They’ll take another full rest day tomorrow before their summit attempt. And should weather come in on the team they’re prepared to hang at High Camp for a few days and wait it out.
More to come…
May 28, 2010
IMG Guide Mark Allen called in last night from C1 (12,080ft) on Mt. Bona. All is well.The team is enjoying some superb weather under some solid high pressure. The plan is to do a single carry to C2 (14,200ft) today and as Mark put it “dig in like ticks” which means digging some tent platforms and building some bomber tent walls so they’re all set for a few days at High Camp.
Everybody is in great spirits after a solid rest day and some cheesy quesadillas!
More to come…
Tye Chapman
May 25, 2010
Mark Allen called in from Camp 1 at 12,080 feet at 12:15pm Alaska time
The group made a carry  of supplies up to Camp 1 today from Base Camp at the landing site. They have had a couple of minor precipitation storms since arriving, but in general the weather has been good.
Today’s carry was not without adventure, as both of the guides (at different times) dropped into crevasses on the way up. The good practice that the team put in on crevasse rescue the day before paid off. Mark says they have the route well marked now and it will be easier from now on.
The group has awesome views of the surrounding mountains from their vantage point at their new camp.
They’ll head back down to base camp shortly; the current plan is to move up to Camp 1 tomorrow if all are feeling well and conditions are good.
George Dunn

Bona Team Lands At Base Camp

May 24, 2010
IMG Guide Mark Allen called in from Bona base camp.
The group was flown in yesterday without event, and are now spending a day or two acclimatizing and establishing a good, well protected base camp. Mark says they have switched to a nocturnal schedule and will go to bed at noon today and get up again after an 8 hour rest. It is just too warm currently on the lower glacier to work in full sun.
The group will build good walls around camp in anticipation of future bad weather, do some group training and then hope to do a first carry tomorrow or the next day as they are able. All are in good spirits and feeling healthy.
They’ll check back in after their first carry.
George Dunn

Mt. Bona Trip Getting Started

May 23, 2010
The Mt. Bona Expedition group met as a team for the first time on Saturday May 22 in Anchorage. They did a final gear check, went over group supplies and had a team meeting. They finished with a final dinner in downtown Anchorage, then called it an early night.
The plan is to depart Anchorage at 6am, do the 4 ½ hour drive to Chitina, and meet the bush pilot at the Chitina airstrip for the flight in to Mt. Bona on the 23rd.  If weather prevents this, the alternate plan is to overnight at the airstrip in tents, or fly in to the bush pilot’s lodge, a 45 minute flight up the Chitina River.
George Dunn  

Monday, June 8, 2009


IMG route map of Mt. Bona ascent:
a joint effort provided by Inernational Mountain Guides and Southwest Adventure Guides

Mark Allen: IMG Guide
Eric Stevenson: IMG Guide
Jim Easter
Jessica “JJ” Easter
Colin Anglin
Jeff Pickholtz
Hynak Dvorak
Jim Matera

June 8th, 2009:

Hynak Dvorak summits Mt. Bona and yells into the Wrangell mountains. An 8 1/2 hour summit day from the 13,888ft Camp II took 6 of the 8 climbers on the first of two summit days. ~Photo by Jeff Pickholtz

The weather turned out to be good on June 6th so four of the team members (all but Jim and JJ, who opted to take a rest day) elected to go for the summit with the two guides. The four team members and two guides made the summit, 16,400 feet, and returned to high camp tired but happy.

Second summit day huddle of Mark Allen with Jim and JJ Easter.  This is the highest elevation the Easter's have reached to date; congrats on all the hard work it takes! This made 100% summit success for the Mt. Bona IMG/SWAG expedition. 

On June 7th guide Mark Allen summited for a second time with Jim and JJ Easter. They made it back down to high camp safely and equally happy. The rest of the team had considered climbing nearby Mt. Churchill on June 7th since they had the extra day, but after the Bona climb decided that one summit was good enough and instead took the day off.

Eric Stevenson's team descending from the upper mountain. ~Photo by Mark Allen

The entire team will descend this morning all the way back to the landing site. They will be down at Base Camp by 4:00 pm and hopeful of a pickup by the bush pilot at his earliest convenience, conditions and weather dependent.

"My hat goes off to the team, this is one of the speediest and most efficient climbs of Mt. Bona I can remember!" ~George Dunn

June 5th, 2009:

IMG team enjoys the view from camp. ~Photo by Mark Allen

On June 3rd the group arrived at Camp 1 on schedule and spent a good night there. On June 4th the guides scouted the route up to Camp 2 at 14,000 feet while the team took a well deserved rest day. Today the team moved up to 14,000 feet in deteriorating weather but has established a very secure camp with an exposed serac wall (a vertical chunk of ice) providing good wind protection.

June 3rd, 2009:

The entire group is doing very well; all are healthy, in high spirits and excited to be on Mt. Bona. The team did a carry yesterday to Camp 1 at 12,080 feet. The weather continues to be perfect but relatively cool which makes for nice travel. They carried 7 days of food and fuel up to the camp site, dug tent platforms and constructed snow walls in anticipation of moving up to occupy the camp today. Mark anticipates taking 6 hours today to return to Camp 1 with the remaining gear.

June 1st, 2009:

The group met and organized on Saturday in Anchorage, then breezed through the 4-5 hour drive to Chitina on Sunday. Rather than spend the night at the bush pilot’s lodge on the Chitina River, bush pilot Paul Claus was able to fly the group directly on to the Klutlan Glacier at 10,500 feet at the base of M. Bona in his turbo Otter. This is a broad, gentle landing area on the Klutlan Glacier and the normal site for base camp.

Mark reported perfect weather, no wind and a very happy group at camp last evening. They will rest, acclimatize and do some low exertion training today. Mark will consider making the group carry to the next camp at 12,000 feet tomorrow. The group will spend at least a second night at base camp before moving up to occupy the 12,000 foot camp.

IMG Bona Team travels next to the complex ice fall during the move to Camp I. ~Photo by Mark Allen

May 30th, 2009:

ANCHORAGE: Eric Stevenson arrived today to help cross the T's and dot the I's on the Bona team's group gear and food. We have plenty of bacon, cheese and tortillas to keep the group happy. We might even gain weight on this trip! The team had a great time mingling today and going over the details of our trip. We all enjoyed a great meal at the Glacier Brew House, our last taste of a fresh veggies for a while. We have a lot of hoops to jump through before we get to the glacier, but so far we are having little resistance and everything is flowing smoothly. Everyone looks ready and seems well prepared. Tomorrow we will be road tripping 5 hours East deep into Alaska to the Towship of Chitina, Southeast of the famous Copper River and a stones throw from the Yukon. Here we meet Paul Claus and his Turbo Otter bush plane on a remote airstrip. It is here where we get the green or red light on our fate for the next 48hours. If we are lucky we will fly central into the range making camp on the Klutlan Glacier at 10,000ft near the glacial landing strip. If not we will be flown to Pauls backcountry lodge for the evening to await better weather. We have two mottos right now "hurry up and wait" and "it is what it is". It is by these profound words that keep us sane and in a steady state of Zen during situations in which we have no control. It's all an adventure for us now. Yet, we have high pressure in the forecast for the next 72hrs called an Omega Block! This looks good for us and the next post should be from the Glacier. More Later.

May 28th, 2009:

SEATTLE : George and I put the last duffles onto the air freight to Alaska this morning. Now are gear awaits us in AK! The team arrives in Anchorage on the 30th for a meeting and gear sort. Following the meeting will be dinner at the famous Glacier Brew House for our final calorie load. The next morning join Paul for preparation to fly into the Klutlan Glacier. Looking forward to meeting the team for a pre-trip fiesta in Anchorage!