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Entries By dominic cifelli


Denali Expedition: Cifelli & Team Cache Gear on the Upper Mountain

We awoke to another beautiful day, although day has lost all meaning without night. The clouds had lifted and the mountain that yesterday’s correspondent described as a bride in her white gown, now looked even better without it. Carrying half our camp on our backs and in sleds, we climbed almost 3000 feet up the Kahiltna Glacier. All around hanging glaciers were spread like coats of icing, melting over the ridges. Long after our altimeters told us we were at the cache, Dom lead our caravan up a cliff, our sleds nearly swinging in the void beneath us. He claimed he had taken us further than advertised because we were such a “Strong Team.” Such praise from an RMI Guide is an almost certain indication of a Full Team Summit.

Our round trip was a little over 7 miles. Yes, you heard right, round trip. We’re now back in our camp at the bottom of Ski Hill to make the same climb tomorrow with the other half of our camp. Sisyphus didn’t complain so neither will we. Unlike other beasts of burden, we know that the journey is the destination, and we appreciate each step. So, we accept every challenge because that’s who we are. To paraphrase David Lee Roth: We’re not like this because we’re climbing Denali. We’re climbing Denali because we’re like this.

RMI Climber Kris Reitz

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

What an adventure!

Posted by: Nick Reitz on 6/18/2024 at 4:58 am

So exciting to read the posts And a picture!  The spectacular solitudes you travel through must be so inspiring and give a sense of humbling amazement.  You’re all in our thoughts ( envious thoughts in there too!). Marv Goossen

Posted by: Marv Goossen on 6/15/2024 at 6:01 pm


Denali Expedition: Cifelli & Team are on the Move

The jagged, monolithic peaks of the lower Kalithna begin to make themselves visible again.

We have just torn down camp. The anticipation of this moment has been building even greater since our departure was delayed by yesterday’s fog. The midnight sunshine just beyond the horizon still illuminates us deep into the night making the time of 1:55am seem wildly incorrect. We begin to move.

It’s now 3:12am. We’ve descended the hazy 600ft from base camp and sit just beyond the danger of the house-sized seracs looming off the side of Mt. Frances. Directly in front of us as we sit and replenish ourselves with food and drink is Mt. Crosson. Just left of it looms the beautiful Mt. Foraker, its upper half hidden just hidden behind a small cloud system. Our rest comes to an end. It’s time to begin the ever so slightly increasing grade up towards our next camp.

As we move the air is light and serene. Other than the sound of our snowshoes crunching the snow beneath our feet and our sleds sliding, there is no other noise for miles around us. In my left earbud plays Fryslan by Phil Cook. The pattern of our movement becomes hypnotic. My world becomes managing my pace to avoid stepping on the rope in front of me, interspersed with seconds of beholding the ether that surrounds me. To our right, an orange and magenta hue begins to materialize in the Alaskan sky as the sun begins to return from its brief absence beyond the horizon. Looking upward towards it presents our desired destination, veiled in a partially transparent fog, like a bride on her wedding day, Denali appears. It beams with a beauty matched by very few other things in this world.

We continue forward entranced by the sight. The weight of our heavy packs and sleds begin to melt away as we gaze upon the peak. A solemnity fills the moment that feels religious in nature. There is no more music playing in my earbuds. It is just the rhythmic beating of our snowshoes that fills my ears, and this epic sight that fills my eyes. I am totally absorbed. Quickly as this moment came, so it did depart, as again the mountain would hide itself behind an immense fog, abruptly returning us to the physical realm.

Enriched by this experience, we press forward, climbing steeper terrain before reaching a plateau which will lead us to our next camp site. The going is slow and heavy. Chilling cold air pockets move through our path at times. We break one final time before making the final mile push to camp. Upon arrival our guides probe the area upon which we will be building our living quarters for the next couple days (hopefully). We finish just before 9am. Crawling into our sleeping bags for “night,” we adorn the proper attire of sleeping masks to block out the now powerfully shining rays of the sun to spend the day resting for the journey which is set to continue early tomorrow morning once again.

As I now lay in my sleeping bag, my tent mates asleep beside me, I sense a number of emotions within me: satisfaction, anxiety, excitement, connectedness, all of which seem to stem from the same place: a determination to succeed at this challenge as a team. I close my eyes as gentle folk music softly plays in my earbuds once again. “One thing at a time,” I remind myself.

For now, all there is to do is to rest.

RMI Climber Thomas Goossen 

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Seeing this team out there and tackling such challenging terrain is inspiring. We would love to know what drives your every step. I’m sure all will have great stories to share when they return. Can’t wait to hear them. Get them ready.

Posted by: Matt and Maria on 6/18/2024 at 6:25 pm

Beautifully written Thomas!!  Your words not only provide a visual but you can almost feel the emotion!!  So proud of you!!  Wishing you and your mates a safe journey to the top!!

Posted by: Aunty Gwen on 6/17/2024 at 9:08 pm


Denali Expeditions: Cifelli & Team Remain at Basecamp

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 - 2:13 pm PT

Stuck at Basecamp

Today was going to be the day, the start of the trip. The launching point of our grand adventure. We were ready. We had practiced our ice axe arrest, learned how to rig our sleds, and relearned how to use the bathrooms here. The CMCs. We went to bed anxious, ready, and excited. But that’s when the snow started, and kept going. We were socked in a cloud with no sign of any mountains around us and no viable window for a move to our next camp. So we sat and sat and drank coffee waiting for our time to come. When the sun finally showed itself, it was just too warm (I know, shocker) to head out. The biggest crevasses on our climb form on the lower Kahiltna and with the mushy snow from the strong sun/ warming temps plus the variable weather, we stayed at Basecamp. We’ll try again tomorrow to get to the base of Ski Hill, our Camp 1.

Wish us luck!

RMI Guide Dominic Cifelli

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Hoping the weather holds! Best of luck to the team!

Posted by: Cheryl Goossen on 6/13/2024 at 9:25 pm

Hope for good weather.

Posted by: Steven McKinley on 6/12/2024 at 6:58 pm


Mt. Rainier: Cifelli & Team Endure Rainy Weather While Training on Emmons Seminar

The Expedition Skill Seminar - Emmons team May 31 - 5 June led by RMI Guide Dominic Cifelli endured some epic wet weather during their six day training and climbing program. After two days of technical training and climbing school the team headed to the White River Entrance of Mt. Rainier donned their packs and climbed to the lower Emmons Glacier.  The team spent two days in rainy and snow weather before descending to the trailhead and returning to Ashford.  On Wednesday the team spent another day training to complete their program.

Here's hoping for better weather next time!

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Mt. Rainier: Four Day Teams Turned by Winds

The Four Day Climb May 27 - 30 led by RMI Guides Hannah Smith and Dominic Cifelli reached 11,200ft, Ingraham Flats, today before high winds forced the group to descend.  All climbers returned safely to Camp Muir around 4:30 am. They plan to leave Camp Muir at 9 am for their descent to Paradise. We look forward to seeing them in Ashford this afternoon.

PC: Arianna Drechsler & Hannah Smith

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Stunning photos!

Posted by: Some guy from Puyallup on 5/31/2024 at 6:48 am


Mt. Rainier: May 25th Team Turns Due to High Winds

The Four Day Climb led by RMI Guides Casey Grom and Dominic Cifelli reached 12,300' on Mt. Rainier early this morning. The team reached the mid-point of Disappointment Cleaver, but the strong winds of 40 - 50 mph forced the team make the decision to descend safely back to Camp Muir. They will return to Rainier Basecamp in Ashford later this afternoon. 

Congratulations Team! 

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

That photo looks like something out of a movie—pretty otherworldly.

Posted by: Some guy from Puyallup on 5/25/2024 at 10:06 pm


Mt. Rainier: Four Day Teams Turned at 11,200ft

RMI Guides Dominic Cifelli & Jack Delaney led their Four Day Climb May 10 - 13 to Ingraham Flats this morning. Route conditions prevented the climbers from going further, they were able to take advantage of the nice weather to do a bit of training before returning to Camp Muir.  The teams have packed up and are descending to Paradise. We look forward to seeing them back in Ashford this afternoon.

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Mt. Rainier: Five Day Climb Team Trains at Camp Muir

The Five Day Climb led by RMI Guides Dominic Cifelli and Daniel May completed their Orientation and Climbing School days and then ascended to Camp Muir on Saturday.  Today they were able to do some training at Camp Muir, then packed up their gear and descended to Paradise.  The team will conclude their program this afternoon at Rainier BaseCamp. 

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Mt. Rainier: 2024 Rainier Season Begins!

The first trip of the Mt. Rainier season is always a special one and just like that, it has come and gone. We spent the week learning skills like crevasse rescue, rappelling, glacier travel, the basics of snow safety, and even some fixed line travel. It was a busy week!  We didn’t make the summit and in mountaineering, that’s part of the game. Sometimes the mountain, no matter how much we want it, just says no to going up high. It’s a tough pill, but a worthwhile one to take in stride and with conviction that the decision was the right one.  We’ll take home the skills, the memories, and the bug to come back and try again another day. 

The weather is becoming wetter and windier and looks to be trending that way for our descent tomorrow. The hot food, showers, and beds in town will be that much sweeter. 

Cheers to a great week and a great start to the season,  Team!

RMI Guide Dominic Cifelli

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Mexico: Catherine Rossbach Sets Record on Orizaba!

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, Catherine Rossbach reached the summit of Mexico's Pico de Orizaba with the Mexico's Volcanoes team led by RMI Guides Dominic Cifelli and Ben Luedtke. At age 75, she is the oldest woman to reach Orizaba's summit. Wow! Go Catherine!!

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