Former Perham Resident Lee Hoedl Summits Mt. McKinley With National Climbing Team
Patience and perseverance... and a vigilant eye on altering weather conditions. It has been the past recipe for this national climbing team in both the Cascades and Andes and it proved effective once again. Former Perham resident Lee Hoedl once again joined his national climbing team to face the perils and promise of the highest peak (20,320 ft. elev.) in North America: Mt. McKinley.
Joining Hoedl on this national climbing team were: former US Air Force Colonel, Stan VanderWerf; producer of the ABC show "WIPEOUT", Matt Pennington; orthopedic surgeon John Riester and his son Steve; generalist doctor and lifelong climber Dave Zeps; experienced Cascade climbers Chris Kilcoin and Kristina Weller. The overall team was led by experienced Rainier Mountaineering guides Mike Walter; Paul Edgeren (also cast member of the cast of America's Deadliest Catch) and Mike Hinkley (also member of the 2009-2010 US Nordic Ski Team). Two additional teammates were diagnosed with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and were not able to join the team above 14,200 ft. elev.
Arriving on the Kahiltna Glacier on June 14, the team systematically worked their way to staged camps at 9800 ft., 11,000 ft., 14,200 ft., and 17,000 ft. Due to extended snowfalls and high winds, the team was held up at 14,200 ft. camp for seven days and an additional three days at 17,000 ft. camp. With warmer southeastern winds prevailing, the team was able to summit Mt. McKinley at 3:30 pm on July 2, 2012.
"The most demanding aspect, besides the physical demands, of the summit climb," stated Hoedl, "was the emotional drain experienced on our 'rest days' - those days where we simply had to hang out at various elevations and wait for the skies to clear. However, our team was unified, focused and committed to the task at hand - and we had a great collective sense of humor. It may have taken us 22 days to summit, but we accomplished the task as a team."
This is the third successful summit for this particular climbing team in less than five years. They were also successful in summiting the highest peaks in the Cascades and in Ecuador (Cotopaxi and Cayambe). Arriving to Talkeetna, Alaska, Hoedl commented, "What's next? Perhaps Aconcagua (22,841 ft. elev.) in Argentina or Mt. Elbrus (18,510 ft. elev.) in Russia in the next two years. Everest is not a present possibility, but if it were, this is the team on which to be a member during that climb."
In the meantime, Hoedl will redirect his efforts to prepare a series of video documentaries of the team's climb on Mt. McKinley and share them on YouTube. "It's not the same as physically being on McKinley's majestic slopes and ridges," comments Hoedl, "but it comes close."