Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Annie Duquette

Annie Duquette, known as "Basecamp Annie," was interviewed on July 1, 2000 by Dave Krupa at Denali's 7,200 foot basecamp. The interview took place in her weatherport "home away from home," just before it was to be disassembled and slung off the mountain at the close of the climbing season. In this interview, Annie talks about her work as basecamp manager.  She gives an especially intimate look at daily life on the mountain, as well as the characters who are drawn to such extreme places. She also reflects on the challenges and rewards of her work, the many trying situations she dealt with, and the changes she has witnessed as Denali's popularity grew. There was a special poignancy during the interview not only because Annie was leaving soon, but also because she shared the grief of the whole community in the loss of NPS rangers and pilot Don Bowers in an airplane crash only weeks before this interview took place.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-17-20

Project: Denali Mountaineering
Date of Interview: Jul 1, 2000
Narrator(s): Annie Duquette
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
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1) Background information and how she acquired the management job at basecamp

2) A typical day of work at basecamp

3) How weather dictates what happens on the mountain

4) Observations on climbers

5) Rules regarding garbage on the mountain, how long climbers stay at basecamp, and communication with 14 camp

6) Handling emergency situations

7) A few of her favorite climbers, remembering Cale Shaffer

8) Differences in the personalities of experienced and inexperienced climbers, and what draws people to the mountain

9) What brought her back to the mountain for so long, and the gratifying aspects of her job

10) The impact of the increasing number of climbers, and some of the dangers of her job

11) The difficulty of new climbers refusing to listen to advice about specific dangers that she passes on to them from more experienced mountaineers

12) Some of the frustrations and difficulties of her job

13) Problems she has seen on the mountain that need to be addressed

14) The issue of regulating air traffic into Denali

15) How her background and skills in customer service have helped in the basecamp job

16) Moving on and all the memories and friendships that she will take with her

17) Advice for her replacement

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Section 1: South Orange, MA\ New Hampshire\ Alaska -- move\ scenic flight\ Duquette -- father\ boyfriend -- former\ Denali -- climb\ Talkeetna Air Taxi\ basecamp -- work|

Section 2: air taxis\ climbers -- employment\ basecamp -- fee\ basecamp -- maintenance\ National Park Service\ communications -- CB\ calls -- rescue\ National Park Service -- rescues\ day -- typical\ radio show\ radio -- KTNA\ weather -- conditions\ mountain talk\ wind -- conditions\ weather data\ weather report -- CB\ National Weather Bureau -- Fairbanks, AK\ aircraft -- loading\ aircraft -- unloading\ aircraft -- directing\ runway -- conditions\ climbers -- assisting\ gear -- retrieve\ Talkeetna, AK\ gear -- forgotten|

Section 3: weather -- reality\ weather -- factor\ Talkeetna, AK\ climbers -- understanding\ weather -- changes\ season -- slow\ temperature -- heat\ runway -- conditions|

Section 4: climbers\ trekking\ comfort level\ climbers -- observations\ mountain -- underestimated\ soloing\ climbers -- unprepared\ information -- sought out\ National Park Service -- information\ crevasse -- fall\ glacier -- travel\ patience -- importance\ acclimatization\ weather -- reading\ common sense\ tunnel vision\ summit\ cost -- body parts\ cost -- lives|

Section 5: basecamp -- management\ rules\ mountain -- respect\ garbage -- carry out\ latrines -- use\ National Park Service\ garbage -- weighing\ fuel bottles -- marking\ climbers -- international\ challenges\ rules -- education\ basecamp -- time\ crevasse -- training\ pulley systems\ teams -- guided\ 14 camp\ information -- exchange\ communications -- CB|

Section 6: CB -- channel 19\ transmitting -- blind\ 14 camp\ aircraft -- overhead\ emergency situations\ route\ elevation\ problem -- synopsis\ National Park Service\ communication -- relay\ air traffic controller\ evacuation -- patient\ wind -- conditions\ helicopter -- Chinook\ helicopter -- Lama\ rescues\ mountaineering rangers|

Section 7: climbers -- favorite\ Lowe, Alex\ athlete -- superb\ personality -- humility\ Culbertson, Julie\ Shaffer, Cale\ volunteer\ National Park Service -- representative\ personality -- up beat\ Shaffer, Cale -- impact\ life -- outlook|

Section 8: climbers -- personality\ humility\ arrogance\ climbers -- talented\ climbers -- inexperienced\ advice -- passing on\ weather -- reading\ climbing -- lure\ challenge\ climbing -- reasons\ death -- cheating\ Denali -- impact\ experience -- humbling\ mountain -- underestimated\ boyfriend -- former\ life -- outlook|

Section 9: mountain -- draw\ mountain -- respect\ climbers -- camaraderie\ Talkeetna, AK\ Mt. McKinley\ flight attendant\ dental assistant\ Massachusetts Electric\ customer service\ climbers -- appreciation\ Denali -- time on\ job -- duration\ changes\ Denali -- number of climbers|

Section 10: job -- changes\ Denali -- number of climbers\ climbers -- check in\ flights -- increase\ incidents -- ratio\ scenic flights\ Ruth Glacier\ basecamp -- airstrip\ runway -- condition\ weather -- effects\ job -- hazards\ glacier -- crevasses\ basecamp -- move\ runway -- packing\ snowshoes\ airplanes\ propellers -- danger\ airplanes -- pushing|

Section 11: advice -- providing\ climbers -- experienced\ area -- reports\ Mt. Hunter -- West Ridge\ West Rib\ suggestions\ climbers -- mission\ radio -- CB\ feeling -- uneasy\ climber -- lone\ airplane -- Cessna 185\ helicopter -- Lama\ avalanche -- deaths\ advice -- listening\ intuition\ zone -- danger|

Section 12: climbers\ mistakes -- same\ High Altitude Sickness\ National Park Service -- education\ change -- number of climbers\ job -- difficulties\ deaths -- impact\ life -- short\ family members\ Koff, Adam\ Koff family -- inspiration\ death -- coping\ injuries\ body parts -- loss of\ climbers -- impatience\ air taxi\ weather -- bad\ telephones -- answering|

Section 13: climbers -- impatience\ air taxis -- business\ scenic flights\ climbers -- understanding\ National Park Service -- education\ garbage -- problem\ human waste -- problem\ survey -- climbers\ climbers -- limiting\ Grand Canyon\ quotas -- hesitation|

Section 14: air taxis\ judgment -- respect\ air traffic\ safety record\ airplanes\ accidents -- numbers\ airplanes -- crash\ pilots\ regulations -- prevention\ self regulation|

Section 15: self regulation\ air taxis -- management\ climbers -- management\ customer service -- skills\ flight attendant\ dental receptionist\ dental assistant\ electric company -- complaint department\ lemonade\ people -- relaxing\ hot chocolate\ dinner -- cooking\ time -- passing|

Section 16: leave -- decision\ boyfriend -- time away\ boyfriend -- occupation\ work -- helicopter\ Yellowstone National Park\ house -- building\ Mt. McKinley -- fitting in\ life -- normal\ job -- difficulties\ regrets -- lack of\ people -- meeting\ friendships\ memories\ Roderick, Lisa\ basecamp\ Talkeetna, AK|

Section 17: memories\ friends -- life long\ life -- grateful\ advice -- replacement\ attitude -- positive\ people -- helping\ listening\ Roderick, Lisa -- responsible\ compassion\ Talkeetna, AK|