It’s about 9:00, and the small but typically bustling Talkeetna Airport is as quiet as a tomb this morning as it has been for the previous two days. Walking along the barren runway lined with idle planes is a frustrating sight for the growing number of mountaineers waiting for their chance at the mountain.
We slept next to the runway last night as did many other climbers and are ready to go on a moments notice should a window open, however the weather looks no better today, and even worse weather is forecasted through Sunday. If we don’t get out till Sunday, this will hurt our summit chances as we will have no weather days left for the mountain and a single storm could shut us out.
The Challenge of Glacier Landings
The Turbo Otter Air Taxis that will eventually deliver us to base camp are high performance aircraft equipped with snow skids and modified 900HP turbine engines. These well engineered machines, are well suited to the task, however glacier landings are challenging in the best of conditions. It is difficult to judge distance to the ground, the runway is short and the approach is steep to name a few. There is not a proper airport runway with lights, beacons and such, but only rows of orange gear sleds buried in two long rows. So without good visibility, the planes do not fly.