After some final finishing touches that Erich and the others made on the second MET station at base camp (we had the same MET station there from May 2008 to June, 2012), and loading the three large twin otter airplanes with the rest of the gear, the final flights made it down to Talkeetna on a TAT flight. Dave, Brad and I had already taken a shuttle down to Anchorage to pick up a rental car and U-Haul which we would use to go back to Talkeetna for transporting the rest of our equipment and personnel down to Anchorage.
In Anchorage, we would use RELO cubes to again return ship our equipment back to New England. We ran into one minor challenge, however. I had reserved a U-Haul and was supposed to get a call back with an exact pick-up location. It turned out that the U-Haul was not available to us until Saturday evening. Unfortunately, I was already en-route to pick it up.
So, we picked up the car rental, shipped our GPS equipment we had on loan from UNAVCO (a group funded by the National Science Foundation that provides high precision GPS equipment) via Fed-Ex, and returned to Talkeetna with plans to head back to Anchorage on Saturday-Sunday to pick up the U-Haul. Brad and Dave stayed in Anchorage to head out. Brad had to head back to the University of Washington to pick up his own PhD studies again (this was a side project we sucked him into!). Dave had to head back to Colorado for his regular job in Snowmass… Boy, were we lucky and happy to have both of them involved in the project. Thanks for everything guys!
Upon returning to Talkeetna we started organizing equipment into piles: those owned by U New Hampshire, UMaine, Dartmouth College, CH2MHill Polar Services, and personal equipment. In other words, we had several very large piles of equipment to organize and separate.
We also checked in at the Talkeetna Denali National Park ranger headquarters to let them know we were all safely off the mountain. While checking in we learned some interesting details about this year. The success rate for climbers reaching the summit of Denali was up to 78 %. The normal success rate is generally closer to 48-50%. In other words, the amazing weather this year helped us succeed in the drilling and other science work we conducted, but it also paid off for all the climbers attempting to climb within the park. Likewise, the rescues park rangers had to manage over the season were far lower than most previous years, also likely attributable to the fine weather. We hope the fine weather and safe climbing continues through the rest of the season!
Finally, we had to make an important stop in the morning at the Roadhouse… My favorite place in Talkeetna, so I could eat their blueberry filled sourdough pancakes one last time before I leave my favorite little town in Alaska.