January 23, 2010

Vince Anderson's 'Lego' Ouray Comp Route Video

Vince Anderson was charged with putting together the comp route for this year's Ouray Ice Festival competition and made this 'video' of a fictional conversation between himself and the competition judge where they try to decide what the route should be like, and how they want it to affect the well-being of the competitors. I wouldn't usually share a link like this except that it is hilarious and the bad graphics and sound quality add to the humor. Warning: You will only find this funny if you are a climber AND don't mind a couple of curse words. Follow this link to the video.

January 22, 2010

Farewell, Tia!

My faithful adventure companion of over 13 years, 15+ year old Tia died this week. She died beautifully, and peacefully in my arms, amidst the flux of everyday life. She had quite the journey, from instigating unsatisfied young sub-alpha to aged queen alpha of the neighborhood. The above photo was taken on a family float on the Chena River with my wife Wendy and stepdaughter Allie, and Tia's newest companion, the young Sterling. Tia had just found a beaver skull that she carried in her mouth. It was probably her proudest moment of last summer. Goodbye, Tia! Thanks for comforting me and walking with me for all these years...

January 15, 2010

Hatchery Wall Mini-Topo

Here are a few photos and topos from the week plus down at the cabin. Enjoy!

Above: Current condition of King's Beard (WI5+).

Above: Topo of Orion area. Photo: Peter Illig

Above: Topo of Altruist's Way area.

Above: Topo of Stray Comet. Tippy Topout needs someone to send it clean on lead, we ran out of time to develop the crag. One can clip the bolt with a double shoulder length runner and still head into the trad (standard) finish. Another interesting variation would be the traditional start which climbs in from the left on a crack (directly above the belayer bolt) at about M7, with reasonable gear.

January 14, 2010

Shocker: Alpinist Seen Bolting at Kenai Peninsula Crag

Recently, on the Kenai Peninsula, a triumphant  homunculus with a sport-climbing physique was seen wielding a drill upon the twitching carcass of one unkempt Alaskan alpinist, having crawled from within the belly of said beast. Gore aside, the end results were not entirely unpleasant.

I have never sought out reasons for the placement of bolts. But, this December I was down on the peninsula looking at one of my oft peered-at crags and noticed that the dribbles that sometimes form had turned into full fledged mixed and ice climbs.

Over the course of ten days, I cycled through four climbing partners to clean and establish several new mixed lines at the Hatchery Wall near Trail Lake, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska and climb some local ice. None of these lines are  very difficult, but they are a lot of fun and the current condition of the crag presents several new options for the excited winter climber burnt out on the meager options offered in this warm yet relatively dry winter season. In addition to cleaning, bolting, and redpointing a couple of steeper mixed gear lines, we also developed a couple easier traditional lines and installed anchors in several places so that the crag should be relatively user friendly for those interested in seeing what it has to offer.

Above right: On the first ascent of Orion (M6+ish WI4). Photo: Sam Herreid.

Many thanks to Todd Helgeson and Ryan Hokanson for the use of their drills. And, many thanks to Peter Illig, Ryan Hokanson, Sam Herreid, and Jon Cobb for their belays, feedback, and help in the development of the crag. Thanks to Clint Helander for offering up his bolts to be placed at the crag! It was a pleasure climbing at the Hatchery Wall, and visiting Victor Creek with Sam Herreid for an ascent of the classic King's Beard, which we found in excellent condition. At some point in the next several days, I will develop a photo topo with basic information about the crag for those interested in heading out to repeat some of the more often formed pure ice lines or the new mixed rigs. For now, enjoy these photos of a couple of climbs that we did while hanging out at my cabin.

The new lines need repeats to determine  consensus grades, so please go repeat them and let me know what you think at alpineessence at gmail.com .

Above left: During an ascent of the classic King's Beard in Victor Creek (WI5+). Photo: Sam Herreid.