December 19, 2012

Erica Madison - 'Braver, Bigger'

A beautiful portrait of local skier Erica Madison talking about her preparation for a huge ski traverse coming up early next spring. Nice job by Luc Mehl on this piece!

November 28, 2012

The Inaugural Seth Holden Alaska Remote Exploration Grant

Seth Holden was an Alaskan kid who loved exploring remote areas of Alaska on a variety of adventures. I had the good luck to meet him while we were both sharing stories of adventures at a season kickoff show for AMH. Seth was humble, charismatic, and shared about he and Clint Helander's climbing trip in the Revelation Mountains. He passed away in a small plane crash in 2010. The inaugural Seth Holden Alaska Remote Exploration (SHARE) grant applications are due on March 1st, 2013. Visit for more information.

November 26, 2012

Josh Wharton: Alpine Lessons in the Canadian Rockies

A great video from Patagonia from Josh Wharton's romp through the Canadian Rockies this Fall.  

November 16, 2012

Trying to Find Balance

Lucky Man

After days of sitting in the basement working on stuff for my old research job it was time to get out for a quick solo of Lucky Man in Portage. Finding a balance between my outdoor pursuits,  social and spiritual life, artistic desires, trying to be a useful member of my community, and my work commitments has been a great challenge of the past few years. 

Too much focus on any one aspect of life tends to leave other areas untended. I end up feeling like I'm not really doing a particularly good job at anything in particular. I have had to pare down my climbing life to expeditions without a lot of time out in the mountains in the off season. A ridiculous amount of physical training without the important mental complement of consistent climbing time outdoors has left me somewhat doubting myself, my stoke, wondering whether I am still really a climber - all that falls away when one has air under one's feet, on rope or otherwise - knowledge of self simultaneous with the unknowing of possibility, doubts and fears sharing space with belief and hopes for life and for the future...

November 9, 2012

Simul Soloing with Ryan (My New Brother In-Law!)

Ryan on top of Mount Hayes after the first ascent of the Direct West Face in 2010.

This morning Ryan Hokanson and I were both interested in getting a workout in before we started our respective work tasks for the day. So, we spent some time in southcentral AK simul soloing fat ice to get some cardio and some air under our feet, also using the time to do a bit of catching up.

Ryan and my sister Sally got married a few months ago! So, I finally got a brother after all these years. I probably met Ryan around 2005 at one of so many nights bouldering at the Alaska Rock Gym. We headed to the Latok peaks in the Karakoram of Pakistan shortly thereafter, making an couple attempts at the complete Northwest Ridge of Latok II (7200m). On that trip, I was continually impressed by Ryan's attitude, his strength in the mountains, and his positive nature. Later that winter, my sister Sally and Ryan met for the first time. 

From the start, it was obvious that there was something special there between them. I tried to set them up but they had managed to set themselves up in the meantime! Despite their early connection, they tended their relationship patiently, four and half years later deciding to pull the trigger on short notice in a small ceremony at a courthouse in Utah.

Thankfully, Sally and Ryan are back in AK now and the Johnsons are reunited, living in the same town for the first time in about 5 years. Though the big city of Anchorage is quite an adjustment from Fairbanks, it is very nice to be back near the mountains again and able to get out and have days like today with people I really enjoy without having to do a ton of driving. Soon, the snow will be here and ski season 2012-2013 will truly kick off. We are ready!

November 7, 2012

There's Always Time for a Quickie!

Following up on the super fun day with Ben Chriswell the other day, I wanted to see how fast I could free solo the UFI 'off the couch,' fourth day out this season. I have been writing for almost three days straight in preparation for application to predoctoral internship and hadn't gotten any exercise so it was great to go harvest some of the sunshine on this beautiful day and spend some time swinging tools with my lungs pumping in a nice subalpine gully. It went really quickly and ended up taking almost twice as long to walk down as it did to climb it! Here's to a good winter, hopefully stacked with great days in the mountains!

November 4, 2012

Early Season Southcentral AK Ice

Me climbing in the crazy ice cave on the way home from classic fat ice Dreams of Brown Moose. Photo: Joe Stock

I've only gotten a few days in so far this season but they have been great. A day climbing thin ice and mixed at Black Lake, a nice day on some gigantic Unidentifiable Fat Ice (UFI) with Ben Chriswell, a day with Joe Stock in Portage...

On another note, turns have been made in Hatcher's Pass and in Turnagain, have fun but take care as things are still shallow. I'm going to wait another snowfall or two before I head out skiing as my skis and bones are precious...

A few photos from the day in Portage - Dreams of Brown Moose is incredibly fat and friendly at the moment.

The ice cave

The birth canal of the ice babies

Joe on the approach to Dreams of Brown Moose

Me leading the middle pitch on Dreams

Joe following the middle pitch on Dreams

Joe leading the last pitch on Dreams

And a few photos from a primarily ropeless ascent of the UFI...

Ben on one of many pitches...

And another...

And another...

And another...

Finishing that pitch up...

The fun continued for a while longer. Then it became time to bushwhack. 

October 22, 2012

A Flash of Memory from Trango II

Jonathon Clearwater following in foul weather on the Shield headwall, Trango II 2005. Photo: Jeremy Frimer

Today I found something in the back of the journal I took with me to the Karakoram of Pakistan in 2005.

On this trip our team attempted the first free ascent of the Italian Route on Uli Biaho Tower, and completed the first ascent of Severance Ridge (VI 5.11 (5.10+X obligatory) A2 AI3 M5). Three of us starved and sent in mixed weather over the course of five days, with food for two and a half and a planned outing of three days.

As Jay continued to wait for us while we starved and fought our way through some difficult and runout pitches high on the mountain, he wrote this in the final unused pages of my journal.

"17 August 2005 6:30 pm Uli Biaho Base camp. Jay.

I grow increasingly worried about the boys. My last transmission was around midday as they approached a blank section of the shield as cracks ran out. The last I saw, of them was as they disappeared around the backside of a roof system some 60m below the shoulder of the shield feature. Around 2pm a fierce storm passed through camp and brought heavy rain and wind for an hour. Since this time I have kept a close watch on the shoulder and adjacent 'road' feature but have seen no sign of movement.

8:00 pm

For the second time on this trip fear grips me as I await a sign from the mountains towering over me that my friends are OK. The dusk grows ever darker as the mountain lies silently in the blackness. What is it that instills such paranoia in me to worry and fear the worst? Perhaps it is because I have nothing else to do here in basecamp? Yet there is more to it, something grips me so hard it makes me shiver."

October 2, 2012

Kokshall Too 2012 - We're Back!

Hi All! We just made it back to Bishkek after 25 days in the Western Kokshall Too. We didn't complete our primary objective, a new line on Kizil Asker, but put in a strong attempt hampered by storm. We did complete a  new route on the Ochre walls we called Mr. Casual (IV AI5 600m) as it was relatively casual compared to other objectives of interest, took much video, and I am in process completing two new art pieces - One, an overview of the Western Kokshall Too from the Kormorova Glacier, the second a detail of the 1500m Southeast face of Kizil Asker. 

Painting in the Western Kokshall Too

2m new snow hampered our move to ABC for Kizil Asker. Eventually we got there and put in a strong attempt, climbing fast on day 1 only to get shut down, pummeled and buried at 5300m by another foot of new while on route. All in all a really cool trip, We were sad not send but such is the nature of alpine climbing. Things have to come together - you can't climb through heavy powder avalanches...and hope to survive.

Photo credit - Unknown

Kizil Asker - High point indicated. Avalanches pummeled us at our bivy for approximately 20 hours before we were able to take advantage of a temporary lull to retreat. While on rappel we were hit with spindrift avalanches as well as heavy powder avalanches containing dense debris.

Ochre Walls - Routelines indicated (Click for HiRes)

Ryan and I are happy to have survived  the storm and we got a lot of great video. We are looking forward to getting a chance to sit down and start editing. 

All the best, 


August 3, 2012

The Last Harvest

A flashback film mirroring the current struggles of this summer's regulatory closure of our Eastside Setnet Fishery, in which I have taken part for 12 summers of my life. 

This discriminatory (in my opinion), selective closure had very negative effects on the Setnet community.

August 2, 2012

Tyndyk - A Journey to Kizil Asker

Above: Tyndyk - Trailer

Franz Walter created this unique film with footage shot during a 2011 journey with Ines Papert to Kizil Asker (the Red Soldier) with climbing partners, from the perspective of Ines' son Manu who joined them on the journey to basecamp. Ines' party attempted the Southwest face of the Kokshall Too's Kizil Asker in 2008, 2010, and most recently in 2011 (link to 2011 trip report). Juneau climber Ryan Johnson and I are planning to go visit the Kokshall Too this September to see what this unique and steep mountain range has to offer. During our time there, I plan to paint and shoot lots of video in addition to attempting our climbing objectives. Franz's film provides a beautiful introduction to the culture and the landscape of Kyrgyzstan, and should not be missed by anyone interested in climbing or exploring this area of the world. Thanks to our family and friends, and thanks so much to the Copp-Dash Inspire Award and the American Alpine Club for their support  on this endeavor.

Ryan and I would also like to thank Black Diamond Equipment, Arc'teryx,  LaSportiva, Sterling Ropes, and GU Energy for their support at varying levels in our climbing endeavors recently. 

July 24, 2012

The Setnet Blues

Photo: M. Scott Moon - Peninsula Clarion

The plan was to go commercial fishing and make a nest egg of cash to stretch through the winter while I work on my dissertation following my return from our  Kyrgyzstan trip. Unfortunately, a low King Salmon run in the Kenai and some dubious mechanical counting and management by our local Alaska Department of Fish and Game have resulted in all eastside Cook Inlet setnetters being shut down thus far this season, with a total of three days fishing on Kasilof side and one day on the Salamatof side. All this while drift gillnetters fish every day, the bag limit for sockeye has increased for sportsfishermen, and dipnetters harvest hundreds of thousands of fish. Area setnetters have protested and rallied around the above issues, clamoring for a more equitable distribution of the year's sockeye resources. 

Here are links to a variety of articles and commentary on the subject:

Peninsula Clarion:

Alaska  Journal of Commerce:

June 7, 2012

Shattered: An Honest Portrait of Alpinist Steve House

This short film surprised and inspired me in a couple ways. First, its honesty and thoughtfulness around serious climbing. Second, Steve House's honest sharing about the base fears that have both driven him in climbing and in life - I was surprised to learn that the basic existential fears that drive Steve in his life are my own - that I will never deserve love. Bravo Tyler Stableford on this short film.

2012 American Alpine Club Research Grant

I just found out that my doctoral dissertation research project is a recipient of a 2012 American Alpine Club Research Grant! My dissertation project is titled Emergency Behavioral Health in Wilderness Situations: A Contextual Examination of Needs and Suggested Protocols for Behavioral Health Emergencies in the Backcountry. I will be working on this project with the guidance of my dissertation committee for the next year. Stay tuned for updates, website design, and participant recruitment as I move forward.

May 1, 2012

2012 Copp Dash Inspire Award - Kokshall Too

At the moment I am out in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta again but wanted to update on exciting news. Ryan Johnson and I just found out that we won a 2012 Copp-Dash Inspire Award for our proposed attempt on the Red Soldier (Kizil Asker), in the Kokshall Too range of Kyrgyzstan. Kizil has had four ascents that I am aware of, while our proposed route is unclimbed. Ryan and I climbed together for the first time in Juneau this March and had fun new routing and sitting in a tent near Juneau. Ryan Hokanson and I were one of the inaugural Copp-Dash Inspire Award teams in 2010 when we did some climbing in the Hayes Range. The award helped me experiment with in field expedition art and helped me learn the basics of video editing in addition to supporting the climbing itself. Thanks for the support - here's hoping we bring back a great story to share and inspire others to get out on their own adventures! Here's a link to an overview of the climbing teams who received awards this year.

April 15, 2012

Back from Hayes Range Recon

I just got back from an attempt to get into the Hayes for an attempt on a new line with Jason Stuckey. Our objective looked great, but as often happens the central range's mean little brother - our backyard Hayes Range - had a curve ball to throw and the glacier where we wanted to land was uncharacteristically bare for April and there were big ice mounds sticking through the snow, making it impossible to land safely. I hope to head in, somehow, sometime in the next few weeks if conditions on the peak continue to remain viable for climbing. 

On another note, my father just sent a photo of my place near Summit Lake, can you tell it is a record snow year? 

Photo: Barry Johnson

Here it is last Fall after some work putting supports in for the porch on the front.

Photo: Barry Johnson

March 25, 2012

Juneau Trip

March 9th through 19th I headed down to Juneau to rendezvous with local Southeast climber Ryan Johnson to look for new ice and alpine lines. We had a great time and also got a little climbing in - the weather was pretty bad for the alpine portion of our trip with no windows longer than 8 hours so we were shut down there - however we did climb a new waterfall ice line on the so-called 'suicide wall' that we called Bathtime with ToasterHere is the link to the photo topo of the route from my previous post, and here is a link to info on Alpinist and Desnivel about the trip.

5 people's gear loaded up for the Mendenhall glacier.

The lower icefall of the Mendenhall and Mendenhall lake.

Ryan and Tim Banfield at the first belay on Bathtime with Toaster.

Ryan on the third pitch of Bathtime with Toaster.

Ryan on the 5th pitch of Bathtime with Toaster.

There are reasons why this area is called the suicide bowl. This is one of them.

Tim following vertical ice on the 5th pitch of Bathtime with Toaster. 

Rappelling Bathtime.

After we got back from the Mendenhall we threw the dice with the weather forecast and flew into the north side of the Mendenhall Towers to try a new line. 

An oblique view of the suicide wall below a large feeder/avy slope.

One of many towers and rock walls in the area.

The 3000 foot North Face of 2 of the Mendenhall Towers from our basecamp on the upper Mendenhall. Unfortunately we didn't get to climb due to bad weather. During a couple breaks in storm we did do a little ski touring though. 

1500 foot towers on the other side of basecamp.

Rhino peak from the juncture between the Mendenhall glacier and the Juneau icefield.

Commencing the ski out to Juneau in a whiteout.

March 18, 2012

Alpine and Ice Show @ The Rock Dump - Juneau

We had a great show at the Juneau gym The Rock Dump yesterday. I forgot to post the flier earlier so here it is for posterity.

March 14, 2012

New Line @ Suicide Wall

Ryan Johnson, Tim Banfield and I just climbed a new line (above) on a previously unclimbed wall in Suicide Bowl we called Bathtime with Toaster (WI5 340m). We are heading back out immediately for another objective in the Mendenhall Towers and will update with more photos from the trip when we get back.

Ryan, Jason Nelson, and Tommy Lanagan climbed the monstrous Tide Line (WI6 420m) a few days before I arrived (above), big props to them for their hard work on the send and difficult approach. Photo Jason Nelson

March 5, 2012


First trip to Kodiak: Gave a great climbing show for BD and Orion's

Sports, an academic presentation at the Lilly Arctic Insititute, swam in 38 degree water at Pasagshak, explored the forest and the beach at Monashka, found cool and likely unclimbed mixed lines both on the beach and in the mountains, went backcountry skiing on Pyramid, and made a few really solid new friends. I am definitely looking forward to my next trip there.

'Swimming' at Pasagshak: Air temp 10 degrees F, wind 25 mph, water temp 38 degrees F. 

February 12, 2012

Alpine Salvage Work: 2011 Neacolas First Ascents & The Pragmatism of Creativity in the Mountains

On February 21st at UAF's Schaible Auditorium I will be presenting an alpine climbing show including a couple of first ascents I completed in the Neacola mountains this summer with climbing partners Aaron Thrasher and Ben Chriswell as well as a trip up the classic Northeast Buttress of Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies. Along the way we'll probably manage to make fun of alpine climbing a little bit as well as draw out some serious issues about strategy and creativity in the interest of staying alive in the mountains. There will be some great imagery as well as video from the above mentioned trips as well as snippets of a few others. I look forward to seeing people again and sharing a few more mountain adventures, especially this year's high quality consolation route 'Last Bastion' (V 5.10 A1, 14 pitches) on the previously unclimbed Dogtooth Spire in the heart of the remote Neacola Mountains. 

February 10, 2012

Alaska Ice Climbing Festival - Clinics

Hello All -  Just a heads up here about some clinics I will be teaching at the 3rd Annual Alaska Ice Climbing Festival in Anchorage which takes place in Anchorage and surrounding areas from February 16th - February 18th. 

On the 17th I will be teaching the Drytool Clinic  from 2-5 pm, while all day on the 18th I will be teaching a unique skillbuilding clinic on alpine climbing entitled Alpine Climbing: Skill Integration and Strategies for Aspiring Alpinists. The latter clinic is limited to four participants, will take place in a wilderness setting, and participants should be able to follow 5.10/WI4 with a baseline of physical fitness that will allow for moderate all day movement. 

I encourage alpine clinic participants to also register for the drytool clinic on Friday to refresh their drytool skills and facilitate their having an enjoyable clinic day on the 18th. There are other awesome clinics taking place as well - visit the website (above) for more information. Contact Ascending Path at 001.907.783.0505 to register for clinics as well as the competition (6-9pm on Friday the 17th).

February 6, 2012

Puerto Rico and AK Adventures Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

A few photos from Puerto Rico, DC, and Alaska this December - January. Many adventures were had, no dragons slain but solid peaceful adventures in wild places with great company were the theme.

The Tusk as seen flying from Bethel to Anchorage.

Aaron Thrasher getting rowdy on a Thanksgiving ski day.

The Museum of the American Indian. I went to visit my grandmother for about 5 days in early December and had the chance to check out this museum among others. 

Outside Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, the Oracle Tree sheds light on future possibilities.

My friend Altaira and I gave presentations to local schoolkids about Alaska! This is one of the classes at a Montessori school in Aibonito.

Altaira Wilhelm and friend Ricky Lopez mid adventure in El Junke, a most beautiful rainforest.

Navigating a boulder bridge over a deep gorge climbing up the Rio Blanco's waterfalls. I spent about 5 days exploring Puerto Rico's incredible canyons with Altaira, Ricky, and on my own.

Continuing up the Rio Blanco.

A view down the slippery adventures behind us with hopes for a path through the next section..

Viejo San Juan at night, outside the walls.

At the top of the highest communications tower on the highest point in Puerto Rico in high winds. We also went surfing and trail running throughout Puerto Rico.

Back in Alaska, skiing and climbing adventures replaced water and land sports. On New Year's eve, Altaira and I skied up Summit Creek to the old mine. When I was young, this building was mostly intact. It is now returning to the earth. 

Out in the Chugach, one of several days skiing on 
Harp Peak.


Yukla and friends from Harp.


Spurr from Harp on a different day.

Rachel Steer and Alex Wilson's dog Amber on baby O'Malley. 


Altaira on another day in Hiland skiing powder.

Ben Chriswell on yet another day in Hiland before I drove back to Fairbanks to get started on research and dissertation work.