November 23, 2011

Neacolas Video on Alpinist TV

Our Neacolas video made it on to Alpinist TV, pretty psyched to see it up there. Take a look if you haven't seen it already, good times in the mountains with good friends and one cool FA also! We didn't get to attempt our primary objective due to short weather windows and hope to get back there someday. Thanks to our friends and family, Black Diamond Equipment and the American Alpine Club McNeill-Nott Award for their support!

November 10, 2011

Mount Moffit Northeast Ridge Attempt 2011 - Video

Our attempt on a giant line on Mount Moffit this past July. We didn't climb it but still had an 'interesting' time what with the choss, stove flying into the abyss, bad weather,  a bushy hike out, and a river crossing in an overloaded packraft. Reminder to self: Next season, pursue objectives with splitter granite. I don't think I'll be going back to the Northeast Ridge of Moffit, a bit too much steepish choss this year. Not saying I won't return to my chossy roots, or course. Thanks to our friend and family, Gore Tex Shipton Tilman award and BD for their support.

October 22, 2011

'Citadel' in Alpinist 36

'Citadel,' a painting I completed on our Neacolas trip this year, made it into Alpinist 36.
If interested in my art stuff, check out Avid Abstracts. Thanks for looking! 

October 12, 2011

Climbing Anchor Ban Proposed in Chugach State Park

Check it out people, get your voice heard! There is still a lot of route development to be done in the Chugach; it would be a shame to set a precedent that would decrease future route potential - there are many crags and faces yet to be climbed on.

October 5, 2011

All Alaskan Neacolas Expedition 2011 - Video

This is a video of our 2 week climbing expedition into the remote Neacola Mountains of Alaska. We completed two first ascents during the trip which was plagued with bad weather. Thanks to Aaron Thrasher and Ben Chriswell for the awesome companionship through the storms and climbing. We completed a new route called Where's the Gas (III 5.8 AI3) on Mystery Mountain and another called Last Bastion (V 5.10 A1) on a peak we called the Dogtooth. Music from Alaska musicians Rebecca K. File, "With Salt," and Double Aught, aka Operation Overlord, "Speed Racer." This trip was supported financially by the American Alpine Club McNeill-Nott Award and with gear from Black Diamond Equipment. 

September 5, 2011

Classic Fall Runs

The fall is amazing here in Fairbanks at the moment. The tundra is slowly turning red, the trees yellowing,  clear stiff breezes keep one invigorated and engaged with the environment - On Saturday running out to the hot springs from Angel Rocks, today the classic Granite Tors loop. I feel like I am ready for winter but the indian summer thus far has continued. I am almost done with our Neacola video which is waiting on permission for music use from a couple of local Alaska artists. It was great being out with a couple of fellow birth Alaskans on this trip, in a state with a quite migrant population.

August 31, 2011

Old Cabin Update: New Porch

The old (ca. 1905) cabin at Summit Lake got some love this month when my father and Clive finished the front porch project! I am excited to get back down there and work on it next summer in a big way.

Mount Temple NE Buttress

Ryan Hokanson and I had a great reunion, did a bunch of approaching, and climbed the NE Buttress of Mount Temple (V 5.8 A1) near Lake Louise. We also approached to climb the Hannibal-Lowe on the North face of Mount Geikie but were weathered out, and approached a first ascent project in Montana's Glacier National Park only to discover that it was easy and chossy. In both cases, we coped with our chagrin by hiking for long periods of time.

Mount Temple, the NE Buttress. A nice, 4000 foot line climbing up behind the skinny tree in the center. Photo scrounged from Parks Canada.

 After a nice lazy 9:30 departure from the base of the route, we started climbing and scrambling up.

Myself scrambling up a steeper section mid-route. Photo: Ryan Hokanson

Ryan clambering through a chossband on the lower buttress.

Ryan's portrait for his mom. Handsome fellow, isn't he? My sister Sally got lucky I think, here. Or, maybe he got lucky. Hmm.

Clambering into the quartzite zone to find better rock.

Belay ledge mid-route.

High quality slab climbing on the upper route.  Photo: Ryan Hokanson

Ryan and I are used to climbing things fast, and we thought we would simul this route in 6 hours. We started pretty late and ended up taking a chilly nap on a ledge above the crux pitch and finishing the next morning. Whoops! Photo: Ryan Hokanson

Ryan finishing out the last pitches in the morning.

Summit serac and snowfield.

Ryan punching it to the summit!

The boys on the summit. Then back down to Lake Louise for some R + R! After this we headed to to GNP and spent time in Missoula with Chris Gibisch, as well as Jeff Shapiro and his family.  Photo: Ryan Hokanson

August 1, 2011

Heading to the Canadian Rockies

Ryan Hokanson and I are meeting in Montana to go climbing in the Canadian Rockies for ten days. Ryan and I haven't gotten to climb together since last year, and we both have been working and schooling too much. It should be an awesome chance to climb and reconnect before my semester ramps up in preparation for my dissertation year and Ryan begins his OR rotations for the practical portion of his nurse anesthetist training around the US. Looking forward to it!

July 26, 2011

Citadel: Neacola Expedition Art #2

Citadel - 11" x 15" - Ink and Charcoal
In field expedition art

July 21, 2011

Dogtooth: Neacola Expedition Art #1

In field expedition art: "Dogtooth" 11" x 15" Ink and Charcoal
In field expedition art
Belays of "Last Bastion" indicated by three dots.

July 20, 2011

Back from the Hayes: Moffit Attempt Trip Report

Stuckey rocking the classic double backpack Alaska single carry approach. Beware those of the soft southern lands, no trails and no roads here. 

Jason Stuckey and I are back after an unsuccessful attempt at the Northeast Ridge of Mount Moffit. We climbed 4000 feet of choss on our first day and bivied early at the notch just prior to the first of the towers on the crux section, the plan being to wait to see what the weather would do the next morning before committing to the difficult to revcrse crux segment of the ridge which also appeared quite chossy, though not as bad as the lower segment of the ridge. Thanks to family and friends, and to Gore Tex for the Shipton Tilman Award in support of our trip.

Peak 9740-ish and Mount Hayes shortly after leaving basecamp.

Stuckey steps out of basecamp and onto the Northeast Ridge of Mount Moffit.

Your soul better belong to (insert deity/belief system of choice), cuz your ass belongs to the choss. Stuckey prior to a near miss choss collapse partway through the inital 4000 foot segment of ridge.

As it happens, however, late in the evening as we were settling down to sleep I accidentally knocked our jetboil stove off our tiny bivy ledge into the abyss, changing our game plan significantly as we would be unable to melt water or cook. I rappelled 60m down into the chossy chasm below into a vertical and overhanging iced chimney system to find only an icy ramp from which our stove would have no doubt launched quite a ways prior to initial impact on the next segment of the chossy face until it came to rest some 3500 feet below. Having no luck, I reascended the rope to our small bivy ledge.

 The view from the bivy ledge at 8k, 4000 feet into the Northeast Ridge, pre stove abyss launch.

Photo: Northeast Ridge of Mount Moffit from the 1977 American Alpine Journal.

The next morning we awoke late, and enjoyed the ambience of the mountain, watching the Entropy Wall prior to beginning our descent. Shortly after we bagan our descent, precipitation began in earnest and we became somewhat thankful for the event of my launching the stove into the abyss as it inadvertently saved us from being 4-5 pitches into the crux, difficult to reverse segment of the ridge. By the time we reversed the 4000 feet of the initial choss ridge and regained our basecamp six hours later we had largely decided that we would not return to the route even with our basecamp stove, an XGK, due to the poor rock quality we experienced and observed on route. Just another huge plum and last great problem of the Hayes Range, appearing generally climbable but not particularly appealing up close. 

The chossy beginnings of the crux segment of the Northeast Ridge, upper Entropy Wall looming behind.

A hanging glacier bordering the Entropy Wall as the weather moves in prior to our descent of the lower Northeast Ridge.

The next day the rain continued. We obtained a weather forecast indicating a continuation of precipitation in the coming days, and decided to load up and begin the walk out as our desire for another attempt waned with each rainy hour. We left camp at about 8 pm, crossed the Trident Glacier, and gained several thousand feet through a 6500 foot pass at which point we bivied by a nice alpine tarn. The next day we ascended a small 5200 foot pass and descended onto the terminal moraine of the McGinnis Glacier. We spent the next 24 hours bushwhacking and relaxing at various intervals until we reached the Delta River and bumped into friends Cortney and Tobey on their own adventure at the confluence of McGinnis Creek and the Delta River. 

 Myself and a cool ice cave in the Trident lateral moraine on the walk out to the Delta River. This one's for you Sherrie Soltis, AK self portrait mistress!

Following this, Jason and I plus 170 pounds of gear squeezed into a single Alpacka Yukon Yak, at some risk of capsizing, to make the crossing back the Richardson Highway where we were picked up by Jason's girlfriend Kennan for an expeditious ride back to Fairbanks.

Myself: 185 lbs plus clothes/boots (200)
Jason: 165 plus clothes/boots (180)
Gear: 170 lbs

TOTAL: 550 lbs

July 8, 2011

Heading to the Hayes: 2011

Jason Stuckey and I are trying to fly into the Hayes Range tomorrow to make an attempt on Mount Moffit, which we are both looking forward to. I will update if we get stuck in town or plans change for any reason. Stay tuned for a trip report when we get back!

June 18, 2011

2011 Neacola Trip Report (Updated w/ New Pics)

Here are some pics from our Neacola trip from May-June 2011. Aaron Thrasher, Ben Chriswell and I experienced three usable weather windows of less than 24 hours, spent 10 days of 13 total in the tent due to severe, Patagonia fierceness storms, and did not attempt our primary objective as a result. We did go climbing a bit, however, so enjoy the pics! The highlight was this new route on the DogtoothThanks to family and friends, the McNeill-Nott Award, the American Alpine Club, and Black Diamond Equipment for their support!

Preparing important expedition supplies prior to our departure from Talkeetna. Photo: Aaron Thrasher

Beluga Lake on the flight into the Lake Clark area from Talkeetna. A big thanks to Talkeetna Air Taxi and particularly Paul Roderick for making an extra trip when our fuel was inadvertently left in the belly hold of the plane!

A beastly peak we took to calling Berserker. This fierce northwestern wall is around 3000 feet of steep, crackless rock and ice.

Art station Zebra! I completed two new pieces of expedition artwork while we were out in the Neacolas.

In process on a new piece depicting the Neacola Citadel, a couple of miles from the Dogtooth. Photo: Aaron Thrasher

Skis after a multi-day storm in front of the Neacola Citadel.

Aaron delicately handling two of our last four eggs during a six day storm that broke a pole on our brand new tent at 4500 feet elevation. The Neacolas have some of the strongest winds I have ever encountered at this altitude.

Ben with depression setting in sometime during our six day storm. Photo: Aaron Thrasher

Ben starting up a 2000 foot granite buttress during a weather doomed attempt on a peak we called Triangle. This was the end of the first usable weather window on our trip. 

Aaron at our high point on Triangle.

The boys at a break during our second weather window on the first ascent of a ridge Aaron called Where's the Gas on a mysterious peak we called Mystery Mountain. We had originally intended to launch on another steeper peak but could tell the weather window wasn't going to last long enough to get up and down safely so we climbed this 2000 foot ridge instead.

A fun 5.8 rock step on Where's the Gas.

Heading toward the top of Mystery Mountain.

We didn't get to attempt our primary objective due to bad weather. Above was our consolation prize, the insanely beautiful Dogtooth. We climbed the skyline arete to the summit in 14 pitches on a route we called Last Bastion (V 5.10 A1). The one 40 foot section of aid would go free at about 5.11+ if one cleaned the large amount of soggy lichen we found on our single push send.

On the approach to Dogtooth during the beginning of another doomed weather window. Thankfully, this weather window remained great to at least marginally climbable until we reached the summit, when it became quite seriously bad during our descent. Climbing as a party of three, the followers climbed at the same time on separate lines which worked really well.

Myself leading pitch 2 on Last Bastion on the Dogtooth. Photo: Aaron Thrasher

Ben following on pitch 2.

Aaron leading pitch 3.

Ben following pitch 4.

 Ben following pitch 5.


Ben following pitch 6. 

Myself following pitch 6, 60m of 5.10 splitter crack climbing. Photo: Aaron Thrasher

Aaron leading pitch 7.

Brew stop in deteriorating weather at the top of pitch 8Following this, we climbed 6 pitches along knife edge ridge to the summit of Dogtooth. 

Myself leading on pitch 9. Photo: Aaron Thrasher

Ben leading pitch 13 on Last Bastion.

The boys rigging the first rap in bad weather at the summit of Dogtooth. Stay tuned for video of the entire trip as it gradually gets edited. The descent was pretty epic with 50-60 mile an hour winds resulting in a stuck rope. 

Ben completing our final rappel off the Dogtooth in bad weather.