July 30, 2009

BD Journal Post

Black Diamond added a BD Journal post from our Hayes Range expedition to their new website. Feel free to check it out. It is pretty similar to my dedicated Alchemy Ridge blog, but is a nice introduction to the BD Journal which hosts updates from many disciplines of the sport and has additional safety features. As an aside, I am headed south to hopefully make the most of the bad weather that has been plaguing southcentral Alaska by doing some climbing.

July 27, 2009

Summer in Alaska

Events this week: Went to an awesome rainy wedding at Spencer Glacier. Our friends Britta and Ian got married there along with their brave, cold relatives from other areas of the country. Ran Lost Lake trail with my bride and oldest friend Rune. The running conditions were pretty perfect, really, for AK kids such as ourselves (50 degrees, drizzle). Wendy then headed back to Fairbanks, and Rune and I went down to Anchor Point to fish with my father. We caught a bunch of Halibut, then went home (Rune to Hope, me to my family's house in Anchorage). Then the dog and I went back to Fairbanks and ran up Mount Healy along the way. I didn't take a lot of photos that week but a few are posted below. Wendy and I also recently ran the Granite Tors trail in its entirety which made for a nice afternoon.

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

Chena Hot Springs Run n' Soak

Wendy and I, along with several friends from Anchorage went out on Saturday to do the Chena Hot Springs Run 'n Soak. This was a really fun race of 8.5 miles with the first four being uphill to a ridgetop, then running along the ridge for another four and a half miles down to Chena Hot Springs. Ridgetops are so nice to run along, this one especially because we were running through the cool rock climbing area of Angel Rocks, and could also see the Granite Tors from far off.

July 17, 2009

Tatlanika and Rock Creek Bouldering Tour

Wendy and I headed out to explore the bouldering areas of Tatlanika and Rock Creek along the Parks Highway the last couple of days. There is a lot of excellent rock in the area, far more than I imagined. Much of it is undeveloped, but Tom Ellis and others have put in a lot of work cleaning and developing many boulders. The rock is quite monolithic, with few features and often small footholds. We had a great time exploring and got on a lot of different problems. Neither of us sent anything personally difficult.

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

Elliot Hwy MP 29.5: The Hilltop Boulders

While heading to Grapefruit this summer I kept noticing a set of nice looking boulders sitting on a small ridge shortly after one passes the Wickersham Dome trailhead and passes the mile 29 marker. No one I spoke with seemed to have any idea what kind of rock was there, and if it was good for climbing. Later on in August I found out that Ian McRae of Nome, formerly of Fairbanks, had climbed on these years earlier.

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.

Some Grapefruit Bouldering

I have been going out to Grapefruit Rocks to hit up the Fruit Loop bouldering circuit a bit this summer, and have enjoyed it. It seems that there is a lot more rock to clean up and climb on out there, but the Fruit Loop problems have presented a great developed option to get out and pull on some rock. There is a nice mix of developed problems from VO (many) to V6 (Harry Potter's Magic Wand) with a few projects sitting around waiting for someone to climb them.  The 'Tom Ellis Project' looks hard, with super small holds. My finger strength seems pretty abysmal at the moment, but hopefully this bouldering will tune me up. Here are a couple photos from Grapefruit.

Wendy warming up on a nice crack before our bouldering session.

Right: Me on Eeyore's problem (V2)

Wendy's Mount Marathon

We all headed down to Seward to watch Wendy run her 17th Mount Marathon race. She came in 20th in a big field, and seemed pretty happy with her race. A lot of people suffered from heat stroke including two individuals who were 1st on the way down the mountain, Holly Brooks and Brent Knight. It was inspiring to see folks pushing themselves and the weather was awesome.

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

Hayes Range 2009: Trip Report

Please see this link to my trip report for our Hayes Range trip, during which we completed the first ascent of Mount Balchen's (11,140 ft) northern ridge. We named the route Alchemy Ridge (V AI4 M7), and we climbed it in a two day round trip from base camp in terrible weather. The 'Alchemy' reflects the combination of several less than ideal elements into something that turned out to feel like a golden opportunity, as well as reflecting Matt's departure from the Golden Heart city of Fairbanks for Colorado to pursue a PhD in International Relations. Jeff Benowitz feels that the correct grade for alpine routes is usually 5.4c, but Matt and I felt that the crux pitches were solid at the grade and we have chosen to keep the grades as such. Enjoy!

For Climbing's Hot Flashes report of our climb, follow this link.
For Rock and Ice's News report, follow this link.

Thanks so much to Roger Strong and Black Diamond for supporting me in climbing during the last year through the Grassroots Team.