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.

June 14, 2011

Dogtooth Route Topos

Here are a couple pieces of data for our new route in the Neacola Mountains, "Last Bastion"

Photo topo for "Last Bastion.
Photo: Aaron Thrasher

Route topo for "Last Bastion."

June 10, 2011

Back from the Neacolas

10 of 13 days spent stormbound in basecamp isn't a great ratio. We put in an attempt on one really cool buttress line, did a possible first ascent of an easier ridge, and completed the first ascent of a great 14 pitch rock line during the short weather windows that we got. Also, finishing up the last touches on two new pieces of in field expedition artwork and looking forward to sharing with you when they are scanned in. I will update with more information soon. Thanks for checking in!