No Bluebird Days: Colin Haley’s Kahiltna Glacier Expedition Ends

Colin Haley has finished his expedition on the Kahiltna Glacier in the Central Alaska Range. Consistent bad weather thwarted most of his plans.

Haley arrived in the Denali area one month ago with a lot of equipment and a bunch of ambitious plans. “However, as is often the case with ambitious alpine climbing expeditions (in my experience, at least), I accomplished none of my goals. I got out for only a handful of real climbing days and only reached one summit,” Haley wrote.

Colin Haley climbing.

Colin Haley climbing. Photo: Colin Haley


Weather this bad is a new experience

Haley has a lot of experience on Kahiltna Glacier, with a few impressive climbs there. Yet his luck ran out on this expedition. “I think this trip had the least good weather of all my Kahiltna trips,” he recalls.

Bad weather sometimes frustrates all plans. A selfie by Colin Haley.

Putting a brave face on, in spite of the weather. Photo: Colin Haley


Haley was mostly climbing by himself but because every portion of Denali’s standard route is so busy with people he got to enjoy some climber camaraderie nonetheless.

During an extremely short weather window, Haley managed to reach Lisa’s Peak (Peak 12,200), along with Anne Gilbert Chase and Jason Thompson. On June 1, he woke up at 3:30 am, checked that the sky had cleared, and yelled over to Gilbert Chase and Thompson’s tent that they should go for it.

Anne Gilbert Chase and Jason Thompson.

Anne Gilbert Chase and Jason Thompson. Photo: Colin Haley


Making the most of the only weather window

The trio departed base camp at 3:45 am in temperatures that felt more typical of May 1 than June 1. After an hour of skinning up the glacier, they started up a technically-moderate line that Haley had picked out from the ‘Mini Moonflower’ route some days before (but which had been climbed previously).

About 1,000m of 60° terrain brought them to the false summit and then a long scenic ridge brought them to the true summit. Soon after, the weather started to deteriorate. It was a windy whiteout on the summit and by the time they were back at their skis, it was snowing again. When they arrived at base camp, six hours after departing, the short weather window was clearly long gone, Haley said.

“It was an easy route to an easy summit, but quite fun to do a few hours of vigorous cardio with some good friends.”

A new name for Peak 12,200?

Haley has shared an interesting detail regarding “Lisa’s Peak”. This mountain is commonly referred to as Peak 12,200, but there is a movement to apply this new name. This would honor Lisa Roderick, a longtime base camp manager for 22 seasons. As Haley says, Roderick is “certainly the human who has spent the most time in the Central Alaska Range!”

Lisa Roderick.

Lisa Roderick. Photo: NPS

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.