December 15, 2009
December 13, 2009
November 29, 2009
November 15, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 23, 2009
Melting some water in high winds below the crux of Alchemy Ridge, Mount Balchen, Hayes Range. Photo: Matt Klick
September 14, 2009
September 7, 2009
August 25, 2009
August 6, 2009
Above: Visible as the skyline, the complete West Ridge of Mount Yukla starts further down than is visible in this photo. The ridge gains 6735 vertical feet (2050 meters) from its beginning near the beautiful Eagle River to Mount Yukla's 7535 foot summit. Photo retrieved from rockclimbing.com. Please view the source for more information.
Right: A exposed, clean traverse along the crack in the center of the photo.
Left: A fine section of au cheval (straddle) ridge.
Below Right: Some big exposure on clean rock.
Below Left: Getting ready to haul up the pack on a steeper section that I self-belayed.
Right: Self-portrait high on route.
Below: The view from the tippy top.
The descent down to Twin Falls was kind of a pain in the ass. Since I hadn't ascended that way before, I missed the small trail that apparently wends down through the brush to the Crow Pass trail. So, I did a lot of bushwhacking instead, making for a fitting southcentral Alaska finish.
August 5, 2009
July 30, 2009
July 27, 2009
Right: Wendy hiking loads in to the wedding ceremony at Spencer Glacier after hopping off the train.
Left: The old man and the sea. Funny how dad seems most at home out on the water. Kind of like me and mountains!
Below: Two porpoises that made a habit of swimming around the boat while we were fishing.
July 20, 2009
July 17, 2009
Above: Wendy trying to decide whether to commit on Welcome Home (VO) on the Welcome Boulder in the Tatlanika boulders (Parks Hwy MP 272).
Left: The nice-looking harder problem Darth Mal (V7) on an unnamed boulder at Tatlanika.
Right: A cool dihedral project (?) on the Highballs Boulder in Tatlanika.
Left: Another cool looking project (?) on the Highballs Boulder.
Right: Topping out on a fun problem on the Welcome Boulder at Rock Creek (Parks Hwy MP 261).
July 12, 2009
Today, I couldn't find a partner so I figured I might as well bushwhack up through the woods to check them out. I hoped that I would find more limestone but, alas, this was not the case. I parked at about mile 29.5 and walked straight up through the trees for about 25 minutes to access this group of boulders. I climbed about ten problems all in the VB to V2 range, on all of the cleaner features (i.e. no or minimal loose rock). The height of these problems range from 10 feet up to about 17 or so at the highest. There are more boulders about 1/2 hour hike from this set which I haven't examined. Many of the boulders have a lot of lichen on the top outs, and you may appreciate having a pad as a few of the landings are rocky. The rock quality is mixed, some excellent and some with loose blocks. A brush would be handy for others (lichen), as would some smaller implements to remove scary loose pieces.
Right: A nice roof with two fun easier problems climbing out.
Below: A short, high quality face (V0).
Right: The Fin boulder hosts several taller, fun problems that are generally cleaner, though they still host lichen. Rocky landings on this side.
Left: Wendy warming up on a nice crack before our bouldering session.
Right: Me on Eeyore's problem (V2)
It was also nice to stay a few nights at my old (ca. 1905) cabin at the base of Gilpatricks Mountain, a rarity since we have lived in Fairbanks. My father also celebrated his 70th birthday.
July 2, 2009
June 26, 2009
The above photo really shows the lower, more technical, half of the route quite accurately. The remainder of the route consists of snow/rime climbing to the summit. It may be good to note that the route we chose on the ridge was often dictated by the amount of snow that was present, though we still feel that we climbed the line which was truest to the ridge. There are likely many options to pass the steeper buttresses. The main crux pitch was an absolute classic, perched on the arete between the east and west faces of the mountain.
Due to the weather, we felt lucky to have completed this one effort successfully, spending most of the expedition tentbound in high winds and precipitation. 12 of 14 days had significant BAD weather events, with localized and generalized weather patterns tag-teaming our expedition except for our reconaissance day and our walk out day to the Hayes airstrip. Most of the route was sustained moderate fifth-class terrain, on splitter granite and snow over slabs, on the east or west side of the ridge which winds sinuously to the summit. Stay tuned for a trip report as we pull our photos together.
June 14, 2009
June 6, 2009
At right: Tia's glamour shot for the Crest catalog. What appears to be her mangled teeth is actually an intact, rotting porcupine skull, upside down. She proceeded to crack this apart with her teeth until we could knock it off the boat with a stick. Foul.
Right: At Mom's family birthday bash. Tia the dog also recently had her 15th birthday, making her 105 in dog years!
Below: Wendy and I on the way back to Fairbanks. Photo by Allie McDonnell.
May 31, 2009
Below: Making our way up Control Tower (8,700 ft). We had the clients take much of the responsibility for decision-making on this climb, with backup from us.
On our last day, we climbed up onto Annie's Ridge (8,500 ft) from the Kahiltna proper. We used all of these climbs to teach practical mountain skills, and the clients left Talkeetna with a bunch of new tools for mountain travel and climbing.
May 12, 2009
May 7, 2009
John Evans, an English climber who has often worked with the National Park Service in the Alaska Range, died on April 28th while rock climbing in Wales. John was accessible, easygoing, and competent. As a ranger up on Denali, it was always a pleasure to interact with him. His people skills were unparalleled, he always made me feel comfortable, and he had a kind and solid attitude which conveyed that he was someone who could be trusted. Best, John, on your journey!
Photo: Alaska Mountaineering School
March 25, 2009
Photo: Heike Schmitt
Below: One of the most enduring motivations, successfully bailing off a giant mountain (after being hit by a slough while transitioning from rappel to anchor). Our two attempts on Latok II (7200m) have got me psyched to head back to Pakistan someday in the not too distant future.
Photo: Ryan Hokanson
In any case, I am indeed motivated to head back into the mountains and look forward to facing some of the transformative challenges available in our natural world, practicing the art of alpine climbing. I am hoping to head out on two separate expeditions, one big mountain trip to Mount Logan/the St. Elias, and a return trip to the Arrigetch to attempt a couple unclimbed lines that we noticed last year while on a trip there.
March 21, 2009
Photo: Diana Johnson
About a week after Di came out, Wendy, Tommy and I traveled out to DC to spend time with my grandmother. We had a good time, pretty low key. Grandmother was not feeling well, so our visits were relatively short but wonderful. Inspiring to be around our elders, especially a woman who has contributed so much to this world, and to our family. An immensely talented wordsmith. Please visit her Washington Writers' Publishing House author profile. We visited the Holocaust Museum, the Museum of American History, the Lincoln Memorial, and the World War II memorial among many other places.
March 5, 2009
February 16, 2009
The kick-off party will start at 6pm, March 6th, at the Alaska Backpacker's Inn at 327 Eagle Street in Anchorage. There will be a spaghetti feed, beer, festival registration, and demo gear sign up starting at 6pm. Jayme let me know that 7pm might be a good time for me to start the show, which should include pics and stories from climbs all over the world, with an emphasis on the personal evolution of this experience seeker, and recent paradigm shifts in the vertical realm.
February 10, 2009
The first pitch was about 20m long, and went at about M4 with sections of gorgeous water ice plastered an inch or two thick in the back of the corner. It ended with a mantel onto a nice flat block and a belay from a sturdy birch tree after some low angle turf climbing.
The second pitch offered up the business of this little route, about 40 meters of sustained mixed climbing starting with turf sticks, flowing into a dihedral with small footholds and not quite perfect hook placements (M5). The climbing was more technical than pumpy. I had to stack a couple pieces of gear to make it feel super safe, but the gear was generally solid. The pitch finished with some juggy footless climbing, finally entering a chimney to finish with somelock-offs into a mantel on to the crest of the buttress, where I belayed Andy up, anchoring from a slung block.
From there, we climbed another pitch which was almost 60m in length, a very easy but insecure 'au cheval' ridge straddling pitch with several small gendarmes. This pitch ended as the buttress merged into the hillside. From here we walked back down the hill to grab our packs and the dog (Tia came along). We had a great time and felt like we took advantage of what may be exceptional conditions, finding some ice on each of these three pitches. We are guessing that the ice we found plastered in corners and on slabs here was the result of melting from a short warm spell several weeks ago. Andy and I conferred and decided to call it Lunar Smears (M5). We felt lucky that it hadn't sublimated yet. Please contact me with any questions, or if you would like clear directions to base of the buttress. It could use a second ascent while it is in such stellar condition, and confirmation/revision of the grade.
January 5, 2009
Ryan Hokanson and I applied for the Mugs Stump Award in December. A couple days ago, Michael Kennedy called him to let us know that we won a Mugs for our proposed attempt at a ca. 3000m new route on Mt. Logan (5959m/19,551 ft). I am looking forward to going alpine climbing with Ryan again, and can't wait for the opportunity to check out the immense Mt. Logan!