May 31, 2009

Summit for Someone- Alaska 2009

From May 16-25th I worked a contract for Alaska Mountaineering School with another guide, Seth Hobby. We took three people with Summit for Someone out to Kahiltna base camp, did several climbs, and taught many mountain-related classes. The photos here are illustrative of the climbing portion of our trip.

Above: Clients David and Ed make their way up the East Ridge of Mt. Frances (10,500 ft). Peak 12,200 (Lisa Peak) is directly behind the ascending climbers. Another client, Darren, ascended the Southwest Ridge (IV 5.8) of Frances with Seth.

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

A Change in Plans...

My great friend and climbing partner Ryan was recently out completing a ski-kite traverse of the Bagley Icefield. I imagine that he will likely have some photos up on his blog pretty soon, so heads up for a few of those to come out. While out on the icefield, Ryan had an in-camp accident while modifying a water bottle and cut his finger pretty deeply. He toughed it out for 5 or 6 days until the swelling decreased, skiing several nice lines on peaks lining the icefield. During that time, he was in touch with a friend (an ER doctor) who consulted with a hand surgeon to inform him of the best course of action. When the swelling decreased, Ryan was able to accurately assess that the most distal segment of his right-hand index finger was not mobile, and did not possess sensation. At that time, they took the steps necessary to get Ryan out so that he could undergo reparative surgery on the finger, at which time he found out that he had cut the main nerve, the flexor tendon, and one of two major arteries in the finger. They laid his finger open and reattached the nerve and the flexor tendon, but were unable to reattach the non-dominant artery due to the amount of time since the injury. His dominant artery is still all good though. 

Ryan and my sisters Diana and Sally (Ryan's partner) are visiting here in Fairbanks right now, and Ryan was nice enough to let me take a photo of his hand for the record (above). Very brave of him. We are all having a good time, and getting cardio in doing some running. Ryan will probably be in awesome running shape by the end of the summer, since it is the activity least restricted by his recent injury.

Ryan and I will be unable to complete our attempt on Mount Logan this summer, but still plan to attempt new rock routes in the Arrigetch Peaks of the Brooks Range again this August, when Ryan's finger is predicted to be fully functional again. As an alternative, I contacted local Fairbanks climber Matt Klick to go climb in the Hayes Range for two weeks mid-June. The Hayes comprises the eastern extension of the Alaska Range. Ryan and I will plan to attempt the same line on Logan next summer. Wish him your best...thanks for looking!

May 7, 2009

In Memoriam: John Evans

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