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.