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Alaska

Alaska Range


We floated the Chulitna River over the long weekend… hot and sunny and with glorious views of the Alaska Range towering above the river. The mercury climbed to 80 degrees and we drifted down river in shorts and t-shirts. On Sunday night we camped on a gravel bar with the summits of Denali and Mooses Tooth jutting above the clouds. The view from my sleeping bag serene when I unzipped the tent and looked out to see the faint morning light at 3:30am turning the peaks a deep pink. When you're on a gravel bar in th...


Birch turning - Upper River Fall 2008 Lingering snow - Upper River Spring 2010 Images from two floats down the Chulitna River - Fall 2008 and Spring 2010....


After our trip into the Ruth Gorge Jeff young flew back to Anchorage while Brad and I flew to the Kahiltna and started up the West Buttress of Denali.  The following are entries from my journal from May 30th - June 6th....


Brad Horning, Jeff Young and I flew into the Ruth in the hopes of first climbing the Mooses Tooth and then skiing up the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier, ascending Ruth Gap and then descending down the other side to reach the Kahiltna Glacier and ultimately Denali Base Camp. There Jeff would fly out and Brad and I would continue up the West Buttress of Denali. We had a lot of trouble getting information about Ruth Gap - but knowing that it had been done twice before we decided to give it a shot. Before we flew in we told our pilot what our goa...


A short lived Foraker attempt and a foul weather trip up to 17 camp on the West Buttress. (Next year I'm going sport climbing.)...


Summer in Alaska is for family visitors.  Some years no one shows up… Other years they show up in mass – a week here, a week there.  Sometimes 2 weeks. Sometimes 3 weeks… sometimes more.  Not that I’m complaining… when family visits it’s a chance to show them how you live.  And how you live might mean a long rafting trip in torrential rain, a lazy day floating the Kenai without any sign of fish or a brutal slog through dense brush in the middle of Chugach State Park. And even if t...


The Mooses Tooth (peak on left) as seen from the summit of Mt. Dickey. Ham & Eggs takes the narrow couloir just left of the summit. The North face of the Mooses Tooth as seen from the summit of Explorer Peak. Lots of news and commentary has been published recently in regards to the recent accident on the Root Canal Glacier. In short, Christopher Lackey, a young man from Houston Texas, was camped on the Root Glacier hoping to climb Ham & Eggs on the South face of the Mooses Tooth. KTNA (Talkeetna Public Radio) reports that ...


Video from our climb of Ham and Eggs in May 2010. More pix of the route here. ...


I've been up and down Motorcycle Hill about a dozen times so it always hits close to home when I read about accidents in a familiar place.  I snapped this photo around midnight in early June 2001.  In June the sunlight lingers until midnight on Denali and looking up from 11 camp the headwall of the West Buttress Proper glows deep purple in the alpenglow.  It's a peaceful camp and a beautiful sight if you can stay awake long enough to watch the sunset.  Rest in Peace Yoshiaki Kato, Masako Suda, Michiko Suzuki, and Tamao Suzuk...


Spring climbing came once again... and once again I started trolling for partners. Many options and many ideas were voiced but Yvonne and I finally announced we were going to the Alaska Range; to the Ruth Gorge. Everyone wants to go to the Ruth - and suddenly Yvonne and I had 2 other partners (Bryce Stath and Austin Thayer) to share camp and contacts with....


Pictures from a May 2002 ascent of the Southeast Ridge of Mt. Crosson. [ Click here for photos. ] ...


I know I know. Call me cliché - call me unoriginal, uncreative, unadventurous, boring, standard whatever... I 'm back. I 've been here four times now - yet I am still awed by the presence of the Cassin and Denali's summit as it appears hulking above our heads while we dig in for the night. Snow falls, the temperature rises just above freezing - the familiar pitter patter of sleet on a glacier. Communal dinners in the tent, Roger Robinson (who organized my rescue almost 6 years ago to the day) grasping my hand his deep voice "Oh great -...


We just spent 16 days in the Alaska Range - 13 of those days were on Denali's West Buttress - and during that time period there were a total of 4 deaths. The day after we flew out 2 more deaths occurred at high camp. (Click here to read Mike Campbell's article profiling the accidents.) The rash of deaths after a long quiet winter can only mean one thing: It’s climbing season in the Alaska Range. Unfortunately "climbing season" also means "rescue season" and this year is off to a bad start. And wi...


In July I spent a week floating the Talachulitna River in Western Cook Inlet with my father-in-law, Alain. We took our time and enjoyed the fishing - spending around 10 hours a day on the water and fishing continuously for trout, dollies, grayling and kings. We saw Belted Kingfishers, Rusty Blackbirds, Bonaparte's Gull as well as all the usual suspects like Golden Crown Sparrows, Juncos, Chickadees, Gray Jays and Stellar Jays. We saw lots of moose - but only one bear; a young brown bear that on the second ...


On May 14th Yvonne and I woke up early and by 7am were skiing up the Casner Glacier in the Deltas en route to the upper glacier to attempt a few peaks. We hauled 7 days of food and fuel, skis, sleds, crevasse gear and a few pickets and screws for the larger peaks. The Deltas are the eastern most region of the Alaska Range. In spring / summer it takes about 5 1//2 hours to reach the parking area from Anchorage - in winter it's a little closer to 7 or 8 hours depending on the ice and snow. Weather had been a tad on the warm side so we made sure t...


Photos from a Memorial Day weekend float on the Upper Nenana River from mile 17 of the Denali Park road to the Parks Highway (20 river miles). This is a totally mellow Class I float that, in my opinion, is perhaps the best kid's river in Southcentral AK....


Chugach Range


On Saturday, August 18th, Scott Hauser, Mark Selland and I packrafted 20-Mile. Recently this has become the trip to do in Anchorage and much has been written and said about it. We encountered 3 other pack-rafters other than ourselves and know of at least two others that were doing the trip as a weekend trip. I won't say much about it - other than it's a classic trip! The trail up and over Berry Pass is an amazing achievement; one can almost imagine displaced gold miners slaving away making the road. I had heard that there was quite a bushwha...


Layers, rain, renovations, life changes and work have kept me from getting out too much but the light is finally starting to return and with it my motivation for longer days.  So on sunday Jake and I headed out to climb 3 Ring Circus.  The ice was in terrible shape (mongo dinner plates with every swing) but temps in the mid-20s and light until 5pm made for a good long day.  We climbed 800' in 5 pitches and then bailed off manky alder anchors to reach the ground just as it got dark.  A good long day and a beautiful hike out E...


Eric approaching the Eklutna July 2013. Note the rock glacier and gully. ...then the fun started. What in May had been a simple skin now required a traverse across a shifting groaning rock glacier. The traverse started with a jog across the Bellicose/Benign gully to a safe-enough zone where we transitioned from sneakers to mountain boots. Then up and across the rock glacier which consisted of glacier ice covered with mud and rock that shifted with every step. It should be mentioned that above the rock glacier is wall of l...


Photo by Eric Parsons. Tis the season for post-work couloir skiing. Get up early, work till 3 or 4, ski hard till 7 or 8. Eat, sleep, and repeat....


This summer we opted to explore the peaks that lie on the tract of land between Eagle River and Peter's Creek. Most of these are after work and day hikes for Eagle River residents; however since we live in Anchorage I rarely make it out to Eagle River thus I had yet to make it up any of these peaks. The big plus with these peaks is they are all dog friendly summits; even old dog friendly which is what Pharaoh has become. So over the course of 2 weekends we went out with various friends and climbed Baldy, Blacktail Rocks, Significant and Roundt...


...Anywhere else in Chugach State Park, Baneful Peak at 5,495', would be a worthy objective - but when dwarfed by 6,000', 7,000' and 8,000' peaks like Bashful, Baleful and The Mitre, it seems trivial and hardly worth the effort. And so we halfheartedly started our scramble up the grassy tundra slopes just above treeline. However - within a couple hundred feet the ridge quickly transformed from a tundra stroll to an exposed 3rd class scramble as we gained elevation. The north side of the ridge was a 1500' cliff to our left - and the sout...


W. Ridge of Bashful as seen from Thunderbird Peak Read more for additional pictures and a ridiculously detailed route description....


For years I've been eyeing the couloirs that snake directly up the north face of Bear Point (the wall above Mirror Lake on the Glenn Highway). There are 2 very obvious lines - a direct couloir that drops straight off the summit for almost 3000' and a twisty turny line that ascend though rock bands and tops out just east of the summit. This year the couloirs have been melting out and thin ribbons of ice have been appearing, making them quite appealing!...


On the summit of Benign. Benign Peak, at 7235', is one of the 21 7,000' summits in Chugach State Park and one of the few 7,000' summits you can do in a day. ...


On August 27th Yvonne and I drove south down to Bird Ridge where we began heading up the trail at noon with Ranger in tow. We made quick progress although our legs were quite stiff after having taken so much time off from hiking due to the almost constant rain Anchorage had experienced since late July. At 1:30 we reached the top of the Bird Ridge trail and began to traverse the ridge that heads east towards Bird Ridge Overlook (4,600'), the peak that sits at the end of the ridge. The hike is a total of 12 miles round trip;...


On June 25th Yvonne and I opted to give Bold Peak (7522') a try. We drove to Eklutna on Saturday morning and by 8:45 am were biking in. The bike ride (10 1/2 miles) went by fairly quickly despite us not having biked more than once this summer. By 10 am we had cached our bikes, changed and began hiking down the East Fork of the Eklutna trail. The trail leading up the East Fork of the Eklutna was in good shape and we made quick progress and soon reached the spot where the creek coming out of Stivers Gully crosses the trail. Here we poked around ...


On June 11th Yvonne, Anne Gore and I climbed Cantata Peak via the standard route. We began the hike from the South Fork trailhead around 9 am and reached the ridge between Eagle and Symphony lake at 10am and were soon hiking up the drainage that puts you in the large bowl on the north west side of Cantata. We then hiked across this and up and over a bump on the west ridge and were soon hiking across the ridge to the base of the final ridge to the summit. We reached the base of the final ridge at 11:30 where we stopped and a...


The season is upon us so I thought I'd share some photos from our Chitina excursion last June. Spring 2007 runoff had caused a number of land slides and some people were saying the road past O'Brien was impassible; so unlike 2006 where I joined the Steers for a redneck 4WD extravaganza, getting back to the canyon via ATV was unlikely. The spring landslides and the State of Alaska's decision not to repair the road had lead to a number of outcries from some of the public clamoring that the state was restricting their right to...


The season is upon us... so once again it's time to share photos of the only-in-Alaska tradition of dipnetting. We went to Chitina again; this time we were well prepared and showed up with bikes AND trailers, a campstove. And coffee. However... for all the preparation dipnetting was once again a "world of pain". We had 2 bikes and 2 bike-trailers. Yvonne hiked, Todd and I biked. It took us 23 hours to get 50 reds and 2 kings; we each biked over 20 miles and each hauled over 100lbs. I took an early light run of 5 fish when t...


The comment deadline is October 31st. You have just over 2 weeks. But what's in the plan and what are you going to say?...


Looking towards Crow Pass from Paradise Peak on a beautiful September Day. The mountain center left is the West face of Rook Mountain. Notes and photos from 3 early fall days of scrambling around the peaks west of Crow Pass. ...


The forecast called for clouds and isolated showers; not ideal conditions given that isolated showers usually have a way of finding me, but I wanted to get out so I studied the maps and my photos. I finally decided to give the North Face of Eagle Peak a try. My reasoning was that 2 weeks ago north facing slopes were still powder and south facing slopes were corn - whereas a week ago south facing slopes had turned isothermal. I was hoping for corn conditions on north facing aspects - but I knew we couldn't go if the sun was shining due to avalan...


You don't ski during an ice year....


As if by magic the rains lifted and the sun rose. We threw our stuff together haphazardly and called around till a dog sitter was found... then jumped in the car and by 8am were hiking up Ram Valley underneath baby blue sky. The objective was East Kiliak - a seldom visited peak that lies at the head of the Raisin Glacier - a seldom visited glacier that lies at the head of Peter's Creek. Since we had heard the peak was semi-technical we packed a light alpine rack, a basic glacier touring setup and overnight gear....


On Labor Day weekend Yvonne and I climbed East Twin (5863'). I had previously tried this peak a total of three times; each time I barely made it to the base before turning around for a myriad of reasons. On Saturday. September 2nd Yvonne and I left town in rain and drove to Eklutna. It was still cloudy at the parking lot but at least it wasn't raining. With hopes dimmed of getting up the peak, we left the parking lot with the goal of at least checking out the route. The walk up was in dense fog and after getting above treeline, we walked aroun...


Mt. Elliot, located on the ridge east of Wolverine, is one of the few peaks in the front range I hadn't hiked up yet.  So when Yvonne managed to drag me away from fishing for a day we headed out for a nice afternoon jaunt. We brought Ranger and his buddy Lucy (Eric and Julie's dog). We hiked up and over the ball field, stopping a couple times to talk to friends who were out enjoying the day, and then dropped down past Black Lake to the shores of Williwaw Lake.  We then tromped up a southern gully to the ridge, tur...


It was the winter of '98 and I had already been in Alaska for two years when I finally decided it was time to learn to ski. I bought skis, boots, bindings - the whole package - and I started the weekend pilgrimage to Turnagain Pass. 15+ years ago the Pass was a different place. There were all of 30 skiers who frequented the place and everyone knew everyone. I started showing up and within a few weeks the long time cadre of local skiers took me under their collective wings....


Todd exiting Falls Lake Couloir. Falls Lake couloir looked beautiful and untouched. So up and up the perfect splitter couloir to the ridge. Then down boot deep powder and heavy sluff to the valley floor and sun....


Between weather, work and planning for our July trip I did not get out much this past spring. The few times I did get out it was for a quick jaunt up something in the Frontrange... more specifically - for yet another quick hike up Flattop, Peak 2, Peak 3, Peak 4 - or all of the above. At least I made an effort to carry my big camera along the way and focus on taking pictures of our backyard. Click through for more photos....


Our plan was to climb Flute Peak. Flute Peak sits 10 miles from the South Fork trailhead at the very head of the Flute Glacier. The route consists of a glacier crossing, steep snow and a final rock pitch. There were 3 of us - Eric, Yvonne and I. All of us had tried it once before. Eric had actually made it to the rock pitch last spring before backing off unwilling to solo the final step. Yvonne and I had "tried" it last year; but our efforts had ended early when we ascended the wrong approach gully. We instead hiked up Ewe Peak, not willing t...


I worked all last weekend – so when a sunny day and an ice climbing partner presented themselves mid-week I jumped on the opportunity.  Wayne and I drove down to Portage and found an unoccupied Follies with an easy creek crossing to the base. Follies is a well known local classic that sometimes has an abysmal approach.  For the most part the ice across the creek tends to be pretty thin – and I guess lots of people have had mini-epics when falling through the ice or having the wade across in fishing waders.  We lucked ...


Notes and photos from a fun day on Goat Rock....


From July 17th - 20th Yvonne and I and 7 friends and family hiked the Grizzly Lakes Traverse in Chugach State Park. We started at Crow Pass, went up Clear Creek and over Steamroller Pass, camped at Archangel Lakes, then went over to Grizzly Lakes, then down Camp Creek to Eagle River and then back to Crow Pass. There were a total of 9 of us - and the fitness level ranged from excellent to "Oh my god I'm going to die". Along the way we climbed Kinglet and Pyramid Peaks. Below are pictures from the trip....


Icicle Peak route profiles and pictures....


Up south Suicide with two hot dogs on a lazy afternoon and the Northwest Ridge of Indianhouse catches my eye. A day later I'm back with a rope, rack and partner for nice long ramble across gendarmes and sidewalks on a perfect Memorial Day. [ Northwest Ridge of Indianhouse ] ...


On March 27th Yvonne and I climbed the E. face / East couloir of Indianhouse Peak.  The route was very straightforward and fun.  It began with a nice hike that was free of snow up through the brush on faint game trails until we reached a bump on the south ridge at around 3000'.  We then traversed the entire East face until we reached the prominent couloir you can see from the highway.  Traversing the snow slopes was slow going due to deep rotten snow.  We had hoped to be across them before it was too hot but the rotten...


Beautiful weather and a day on Jewel Mountain....


Scott Fennell down KCK. Yvonne down Goat Head. It's no secret the snow has been good in the Front Range. While the official NOAA snowtel in midtown is reading 129 inches (just shy of the all time record of 132.8 inches set in the winter of 1954-55) the unofficial ski reports show much much more snow on Hillside and in the Front Range. Gullies are filled in more than usual, the tree skiing is good and normally hard technical couloirs are now doable for the average Joe. Thus when the snow is deep, sky is blue...


On March 4th, 2006 I climbed the northeast ridge of King Mountain with Thai and Jody. King Mountain sits on the south side of the Matanuska River just south of Chickaloon and features an impressively steep and accessible north face that is a great late winter climb. The summit of King is 5809' and you begin at 800' and pretty much gain 5000' in 1.5 miles. It's one of those great climbs where when you sit down you can see your car in-between your crampon points!...


On Memorial Day (May 28th), Yvonne and I hiked in and climbed Koktoya....


On Sunday we hiked in to try Korohusk from Eagle River. The initial trail up through the brush was good - but we soon lost it and had a good bush whack session before re-finding the trail somewhere around 2000'.  We reached the hanging valley after 4 hours of hiking and we rewarded with a glimpse of the peak. The route takes the obvious series of gullies that go right up to the summit. We started with the lower right gully, traversed left and then connected a series of scree and snow gullies to reach the upper snowfield...


JT passed along info that Korohusk was in good shape, so on Saturday Yvonne, Bryce, Charlie and I headed up Eagle River to give it a try. The initial four miles went by in no time and soon we had reached the turn off point and were headed uphill. As usual the start required a little bush whacking; but it was still early enough in the season to where travel was easy. After about an hour of hiking bear and moose trails we finally found the trail and after 4 hours of travel were sitting at the base of the route. The route was totally filled in ...


Fun weekend outing to Frontier Peak that actually turned out to be Matanuska Peak. More text and pix after the jump....


A latest start, a 10 minute commute to Rabbit Valley and then a 4 mile ski out to the base the base of Ptarmigan. Across Rabbit Creek, up a slope to gain McHugh's long East Ridge. Then a traverse of the East Ridge to the East Summit. Fun turns off the top of the East Summit and then a 2 mile run that drops 2000' all the way down the long North West bowl to Rabbit Creek. Some early season bush whacking to prepare us for summer and then back to the Rabbit Valley trail and home at a reasonable hour. [ Read much much more here ] ...


Saturday, October 17th, 2005 was our first time out on skis since the previous April. There is powder north of Anchorage - but instead we opted for a traverse since we still have a little bit of light. So on Sunday we rounded up a group of friends and drove south to Girdwood where we hiked up the Crow Pass trail and dropped over onto the Milk Glacier via the pass between Barnes Mountain and Jewel Mountain. We then skied up the Milk Glacier and down the Raven Glacier - finally reaching the trail just as it got dark. If you a...


On the summit of Beelzebub. We got there easy enough: 7 hours to our base camp at Blue Eyed Lake through devils club, cow parsnip and fireweed that towered over the head, muddy steep alder tunnels and up and down 2000' of scree and snow to a secluded lake where we got some much needed sleep. Then up and over Inferno Pass which lies tucked into the shadow of Devils Mistress, down the West Fork of the Eklutna, curling around to a final glacier headwall full of crevasses that we kept punching though, up a steep loose rock gully that shed torso...


On Saturday July 7th Yvonne, Steve Gruhn and I hiked in to try Mt. Rumble in Chugach State Park. We knew it could potentially be a very very long day so we hauled bivy sacks and some extra clothes. We were at the trailhead at 7:30 and started hiking. 3 hours, 2500' and 5 miles later we reached the top of Bombardment Pass. We then had to descend 2500' and after 4 hours reached a beautiful tarn (small alpine lake) where we cached our bivy sacks, some extra food, dry socks and extra layers. From the tarn we could see the south face of Mt. Rumble...


Maybe you collect or maybe you pay. Still gotta work that 8 hour day. ...


We awoke to sun on Saturday so we took a welcomed break from bathroom remodeling and headed up Rabbit Creek for a jaunt up North Suicide. Up the valley, a nice long break at Rabbit Lake so the dog could swim and then up the NW gully to the ridge. On the ridgeline we had one spot of D0 (the dog equivalent of A0) followed by a casual ridgeline to the summit. Back down with spotters for the D0 section, down the long chossy NW gully and then back to the lake for more dog swimming and home at a decent hour....


Suicide Tour! From the Indian trailhead up Powerline trail to the east slopes of Homicide. Across to the base of the NE couloir of North Suicide. Up the NE couloir to the top of North Suicide, down to Windy Gap, up South Suicide, down Falls Creek and a hitchhike down the Seward highway.  Steep snow, some rock, lots of choss and lots of scree slogging....


10 hours before the party and 24 hours before the doctor, Todd and I were walking up a valley with skis and boots strapped to our backs. We walked 5 miles before we transitioned to skis and even then we only got to ski at most 2 miles before transitioning back to boots. We were at the top of the run around noon and collapsed in the 70-degree sun. The snow on southern aspects had already gone completely isothermal and Anchorage lay covered in a thick coat of Chinese smog....


I go up Peak 3 all the time so I'm usually not inspired to take photos. But yesterday was a beautiful warm afternoon that felt very spring like. Skiing wasn't so great - but if you can ski Peak 3 after work in Feburary then I say the skiing is good. Come on spring! Some choice pix are below. Todd booting towards the summit. Ella, Koven & I on the top. Heading down... snow was a little hardpacked. Todd was loving his newly refurbished Volkl Explosives....


Fresh snow and no wind meant conditions were ideal for local powder… so come late morning we headed up to Rabbit Valley and began the trek in. One run off Peak 4 and one run off Peak 2 and we were back home by 2:30pm just in time for afternoon errands. A beautiful day with some half-way decent conditions for early February Front Range skiing. More pix after the jump....


High pressure and fresh snow makes the front range quite inviting so Yvonne and I opted to stay near town for the weekend and go ski in Rabbit Valley for a day....


On Saturday June 4th 2005 Yvonne, Carrie and I hiked up Penguin Peak. The trail up was in good shape so we cruised up in sneakers. We had killer views and weather! There was a little bit of snow to traverse and some big cornices that the dogs had to test by running across them. (What is it with dogs and cornices?) After about three hours we were on the summit!...


Nights like this are why we all love this place we call home....


Notes and photos from Penguin Ridge....


On Friday night June 16th Wayne Todd called us and invited us on an attempt of the North Face of Pioneer. Wayne figured that since there was more snow than usual this summer, what is usually a March - May route was doable and safe this late in the year. For years I had lusted after this route and had never gotten the chance to give it a try so I jumped on the invite. The North Face of Pioneer is a classic alpine climb that pretty much starts right from the car and ascends snow, ice and rock all the way to the 6,398' summit....


Thursday was Yvonne's birthday so we had a party; a bunch of people came over and we cooked up a bunch of salmon and made halibut tacos. As usual halfway through the night talk turned to where to go for the weekend. The weather looked good and we were itching to go out so Yvonne bailed on work for Friday. Later in the evening Eric stopped by and casually mentioned that J.T. and Tony were headed up Polar Bear for the weekend. J.T. is in the top 3 on my 'who to call for conditions and beta in the Chugach' list (along with Wayne and Steve who were...


On Sunday I headed up Rabbit Valley with Dan, Eric, Todd and Pat. The winds were howling on the ridge lines and once again, prospects did not look good! We skied back the base of Ptarmigan, sat around discussing options and then headed up. The normal gully coming off Ptarmigan Pass was in good shape - but as we got higher the snow turned to hard pack - and eventually ice....


Peak 3 season is in full swing here on Hillside. For those who don't know what Peak 3 season is; It's that time of year where every day at 3pm the schoolteachers start calling you and saying "Want to go ski Peak 3? Want to go ski Peak 3?" If you can avoid them you'll get in another hour of work before the 8-4'ers start calling and saying "Want to go ski Peak 3? Want to go ski Peak 3?" If you can say no again - then you get another hour of work in before the 9-5'ers start calling. Usually I cave in to one of the above... and last week Peak 3 w...


Ptarmigan North Couloir. Photo by Eric Parsons. Sunday was one of those perfect days ......


On July 9th 2006 I took my brother and nephew up Ptarmigan Couloir. My nephew had never climbed a snow route before (and never even worn crampons!). My brother had done a few moderate snow routes but had never used two ice axes or pickets. They were both pretty stoked!...


Another absolutely stellar day in South Central Alaska....




Spring… it means something different for everyone.  For my mother in Virginia it means peas and corn sprouting after a short winter; for grumpy Anchorites unwilling to venture higher than 1500' it means mud and muck and 22 trips to the car wash to keep that shine.  For me it means the annual Chugach migration into valleys and up couloirs I’ve never climbed or skied. After a long overcast spell a sunny April day appeared and Eric rallied Dan, Pat, Todd and I to Ram Valley where we ventured up and into ...


On Thunderbird Ridge These are old pictures from a trip that Yvonne, Eric and I did on September 11-12, 2010. I put up a video a couple years ago but never edited the photos, but since it's been an Eklutna summer I decided to go through them and post some of the better ones....


Up from Ram Valley to the ridge E of Significant.  Up Peak 5320'.  Down and up again to the bumb NW of Peeking.  Down to Peters Creek.  Up to the base of the W. Ridge of Bees Heaven for some sleep.  Up the W. Ridge of Bees Heaven then down the East ridge then up the long ridge to Thunderbird Peak.  Then down the loooonnng ridge to the spillway across Eklutna Lake.  21 miles, 12K vert.  And although Kim Gordon doesn't necessarily conjure images of pastoral Chugach ridge walks - her screams generally keep m...




Ripple. How many times have you climbed it? Once a season? Twice a season? Three times? For the past two years? For the past five years? 10 years? If you're a southcentral ice climber it's that route that you do at least once a year. It's close, it's always in, and it's always enjoyable....


Spring is here and with it came a good snow pack and perfect snow for front range skiing. On Sunday Charlie T. and I climbed the West Ridge of Ptarmigan from the Rabbit Valley side. The route up was great - with freshly kicked steps from a party just ahead of us. We climbed both summits and stared down the north couloir; conditions were perfect. I then skied the west face - dropping down one of the couloirs in perfect shin deep powder. I got home that afternoon and began thinking about the north couloir. The fresh stable snow beckoned so I c...


Heavy snow and low visibility kept us close to home searching for treed slopes untouched by wind.  Surprisingly enough we found both and spent the day meadow skipping yellow slopes. The only thing we found above treeline was vertigo so we kept the runs short and had fun picking our way through the alders.  Sun crust is forming on SW slopes and obvious wind lips have formed on rollovers making terrain traps not an option, but NW slopes were holding knee deep dreamy powder.  Todd was in his element and schooled us all on how to ski...


I've been here over 20 years but I had never taken the time to walk from the South Fork Eagle River to Glen Alps. This September I packed an overnight bag and trekked to Glen Alps via a route past Concerto / Tailfeater / The Sail / Ship Pass. Six months later I skied from South Fork to Hilltop via Hunter Pass / Williwaw-Koktoya Col / Middle Fork. Two great trips. ...


Peter above the Arm Sun, snow and stability continues to linger in Southcentral Alaska, so we chose a steep up-track that we normally wouldn’t touch due to exposure from above. We tromped up the steep tree covered ridge topping out on a sharp ridgeline 3000’ above the Arm.  Then across the subpeak searching for powder until finally having to remove skis and downclimb 500’ of rock and tundra to a protected bowl with boot deep powder....


In case you don't remember, we had a pretty awful summer this year: 30 days straight of rain and gloomy weather. Climbing plans were pretty much shelved in exchange for boating, fishing and a short quick jaunt up Flattop in-between and during showers. So when the forecast called for somewhat reasonably clear and sunny skies we opted to hike in and try Temptation Peak. Temptation is one of the 12 5000' peaks in the Chugach Front Range and was the last 5000' Front Range peak left on Yvonne's list (I still have 2 to go). We packed a wa...


Charlie Sassara left an email last Thursday: "Want to try a route this Saturday? Call me." I read it slowly and then called, trying to figure out what the best excuse would be to not go. "I can't," I told him. "We just bought a house. I'm out of shape. My exercise has consisted of moving boxes and caulking." I tried to sound weak, even upping the pitch to elevate my whiny voice. "I'm just not in shape to go climbing." "Ahh come on..." Charlie responded. "You've got a real job now. You've got a mortgage. The rest of your life is going to be l...


It is the winter that never left....


Ignoring tradition, history and local ethics we vow to rename this route. From henceforth it will be called Thin White Mank....


I spent a long weekend skiing in Thompson Pass with Todd, Peter and Amy. We stayed at Matt Kinney's awesome place (Thompson Pass Mountain Chalet). We had relatively decent weather and conditions and were able to ski every day. We drove down on friday afternoon. On Saturday we headed out and skied Gully 1 with Matt. The skiing was decent but it was howling wind and around 0 so after one run we scurried back to the chalet to put on more layers and eat something hot. After lunch Todd headed back up to the pass to kite-ski while Peter, Amy and I...


Eric high on the SW ridge of Mount Soggy. Photos from ascents of Vertigo Peak and Mount Soggy. ...


The season is upon us. Gone are the weekend mornings of leisurely starts and sleeping in till 7:30 and meeting at 8:30. The sun rises at 5:55 am and sets at 9:57 pm. Although it doesn't make any sense, we argue that because the days are longer we should get up earlier so we can have a longer day. Thus we go to bed on Friday night and set the alarm for 5am. It beeps at 5 and I jump in the shower to wake up; an hour later we're driving north - skis, pickets, ropes and plastic boots in the truck. We want to try Granite Peak but as we get closer ...


With sun and high temps in mind Jake and I set out to try the NW Ridge of Williwaw. We tromped up and over the Ballfield, dropped down next to Williwaw Lake and then trudged up the scree pile that is at the base of the NW Ridge. Then up the steep and exposed NW ridge to the summit of Williwaw. ...


Kenai Range


In two weeks I'll be at six months since my fall. Six long months where I was limited to couch-surfing, swimming, cross country skiing and mellow yo-yo runs (in that order). But Saturday felt different. Good snow and a flexible ankle so we went and went and my ankle never bothered me so we kept going. Up the west face of Cornbiscuit. Down the steep south face that you shouldn't touch unless ave conditions are perfect. Then up the southeast ridge of Cornbiscuit (Wolf's Run) and back down again....


I love classics… be it rock, ice, ski descents and even the occasional mellow river run.  So when I heard that the classic ice routes in Middle Glacier Canyon were fatter than usual we dusted off the ice gear and headed south to give one a try.  We hiked into the canyon and checked out all the routes.  Most of the routes looked either hard or thin, but Lucky Man looked better than usual. Lucky Man is a wonderful ice route that is about 300’ tall and was first climbed by Charlie Sassera and Robert Frank in 198...


On Saturday, July 21st, Yvonne, Dan Boccia and I climbed the North Ridge of Bard Peak. We drove to Whittier, hiked up Whittier Creek where we forded it near the campground. We then chose a tiny stream that is about 300' downstream from the main fork of Whittier Creek. We picked our way up the stream, wading through it and jumping back and forth across the creek for about 10 minutes until we reached a clearing. We were then able to move left and ascend meadows for around 300' till we reached a series of rocks that border the creek. In total we...


On Saturday April 16th, 2005 Yvonne & I drove south to Whittier, a small down that is accessible only via a 3 mile tunnel. The town sits just above Prince William Sound and, although the town itself is ugly - the area is magnificent. We parked just parked just outside the town, ski toured up and over Portage Pass; around Portage Lake, then up the Burns Glacier - then down the Whittier glacier. It was a 12 mile traverse in a very remote wild area where few people seldom go. For the most part it was a mellow tour on a rare calm warm day (it's...


We set off to climb and ski Bench Peak. We knew there were tracks on the run we wanted to ski. But we knew of only 4 sets of tracks - and when those tracks are made by ubiquitous local skier "Eric the Viking" and his crew, and those tracks mean you don't have to route find through the wilds of Center and Divide Creeks, then you can forgive the 4 sets. Besides, following Viking and his crew's tracks down a Turnagain area run is kind of a given. If it's good and it will go, chances are Viking has...


We went south seeking sun, snow and stability. Out the car in fringed temps and up Bertha Creek to Granddaddy, which we knew was in. The north ridge of Granddaddy was wind blasted rime ice with constant 25mph winds beating us as we climbed. Then off the top and down onto the frozen blob of rime ice that serves as a spotting stance....


Eric down the East Ridge of Big Chief. With good reports filtering in from all over our objective in mind was Big Chief. Of course we wanted to ski the north face - which is everyone's objective when heading back there - but knowing coverage was pretty thin we all kept open minds and knew we had options should the route not go....


We reached the parking lot, sorted through gear once again and by 7:30 were hiking down the trail making light of the Forest Service signs that alerted us to impending doom on the glacier above. By 8am we had reached the ice and were staring up at the route. Initially we had planned to take the normal route - which is the west ridge. However the glacier looked good so we decided we'd head up the ice and gain the summit via the North glacier....


Carpathian.   It beckons to every climber and skier who happens to catch sight of it on a clear day. It looms above Turnagain arm like an impregnable fortress. You can't help but gawk at the prominent summit as you drive by. Every time you top out on a peak in Turnagain, you turn and look to the Northeast hoping to catch a glimpse. See it on a clear day and you can't help but start planning an attempt. [ Carpathian Peak - North Ridge ] ...


On Christmas Eve Eric Parsons and I went down to Turnagain and skied Tincan Proper. This is more or less how it went......


The West Ridge of Explorer Peak ascends the skyline. Every now and then we get that long period of high pressure where everything rocks. The temps are decent, the snow is beautiful, stability is good. Then the winds come and everything goes to hell. Windslab creeps across the ridgetops and where there isn't windslab there's pure ice. Runs look good from afar but once you're in them you start actually thinking about things like home projects and ice climbing. ...


Alaska has woken from its slumber. Last weekend I saw bear tracks meandering through the snow; yesterday I saw a coyote slink through the trees. Rock climbers are venturing out onto the cliffs next to the highway and the dogs are lounging around outside in the sun. However... there is still snow to be had for those of us who don't wish to put the skis away quite yet. At the same time the climbing bug has returned...what to do? In an effort to stave off caching the skis in the shed for the season Yvonne and I opted to do some ski mountaineeri...


What is a forecast? When the ave center gives you a green light, how does it affect your motives and goals for the day? That was the discussion of the day as we skinned up valley under crystal blue skies with what appeared to be a stellar snowpack. We had a big line in mind but our group has been skiing long enough to know that ideas don't mean anything. You might have objectives for the day, but our ski group is equally at home backing off slopes and objectives as we are at actually skiing our intended line (actually ...


Drove South to Homer (5 hours) for some halibut fishing this weekend. We went with our friend Becky who has a house and boat down there. Left friday night and by 11ish saturday morning we were uploading the skiff into Kachemak Bay. Weather was kind of iffy at the put in -- foggy, a slight breeze and seas around 2 feet. By the we motored out of the harbor and into the bay we were questioning our decision. Of course once you've started you can turn around without at least a peek -- so on we continued. And as we motored west the wea...


On April 14th Wayne, Carrie, Yvonne and I left the parking lot at Portage Lake at 10:30 am and skied across Portage Lake. It was one of those rare days in Portage: perfectly calm, clear and not a cloud in the sky. We were laden with heavy pack - 6 days of food and fuel, climbing gear, glacier travel gear, skis and sleds. Our original intention was to ski out onto the Ithmus Icefield and attempt Carpathian and possibly Isthmus - the second tallest peak on the Kenai Peninsula. It took us about an hour to get across the lake a...


When you're married to an over-achiever a lot is expected of you. You have to hold down a decent job, keep the house in order, make sure the dog doesn't do things like bite the mailman or eat porcupines, be a semi-decent provider, provide IT services, know how to troubleshoot a condensing boiler, have basic carpentry, electrical and plumbing skills ... and more....


Saturday was yet another absolutely beautiful day in Southcentral Alaska, so we packed the skis and some climbing gear and headed south to try Kickstep. We left the parking lot around 10:30 with ski gear, crampons, axe, 30m of rope, harnesses and a couple pickets. Travelling up Lyon Creek was fast and 2 1/2 later we were at the base of Kickstep's West Ridge....


The dreary days of November, December, January and February have ended.   While many of my friends embrace the cold deep powder of Alaskan winters, I never seem to totally enjoy the days where we are slogging through deep powder to ski the same runs again and again up and down.  Thus when the sun finally comes out and avalanche conditions improve, I seem to wake up from hibernation and start beating myself into shape....


On Saturday Todd and I went in and skied Graddaddys.  We weren't able to ski the North couloir (which we were hoping for) due to a huge crown and icey slopes... but it was a beautiful day!   ...


High pressure pushed over Southcentral Alaska so I rounded up a group and on Saturday we headed down to Turnagain Pass for yet another day of powder skiing. We started out with a large group - 6 in total - and headed up and over Taylor Pass. However at the pass Eric the Viking's hip started bugging him so Dan (once again fresh from surgery) and Eric bailed and skied a run off Gold Pan instead of heading down to Pastoral....


We reached Pastoral Pass at noon; the north couloir looked to be in excellent shape so Dan headed up. Eric and I threw our skis / snowboard on our back and followed behind him......


Friday night. I drive past Pyramid Peak in Turnagain Pass looking casually up. I wanted to climb it all winter but my friends are snow snobs; they'd rather ski one run of good powder 5 times than skin up a wind hammered ridge. Now that it's spring they're all out doing spring things - like gardening and river rafting. For some reason I want to get one more ski day in. Looking up at the peak thoughts come and go; "Tomorrow should be an easy day. Almost too easy. I could climb Pyramid and then go ski elsewhere..." I spend a lazy night next to ...


On Saturday Todd, Dan, Yvonne and I climbed Pyramid Peak (3378'). Unlike my last ascent this was a mellow ski ascent without any epic and no bushwhacking. I was disappointed; after all my tough talk to Yvonne about what a burly peak this was to climb we waltzed up the entire thing in less than 3 hours....


Silvertip Creek Ave Video above.  Notes and thoughts on Manitoba after the jump....


My nephew, Matthew, and brother John, came to visit me for Matt's spring break. I'm not sure if they expected balmy spring like temperatures or not - but they certainly didn't get them. Temps hovered in the teens on the good days; on the bad days it was around -20 with 50 mph winds! We spent 8 days skiing down on the Kenai Peninsula; 4 days at Turnagain Pass and 4 days up at Crescent Lake where we stayed at Crescent Saddle cabin. This was John and Mat's first winter visit to Alaska and their first ever backcountry ski trip. I acted as ski g...


There is a place south of town where it’s always sunny.  Where the sunlight warms a golden bowl even on the darkest days of the year.  Where the snow is deep and the runs are steep.  Where ribs are scraped clean by expert kid snowboarders and couloirs are filled with discarded sluff from passing skiers.   I won’t say where it is… anyone who skis south of town will recognize it – but if you don’t then you’re missing out.  It is, as I mentioned, always sunny and the snow ...


We had the worst avalanche report of the season - multiple weak layers, 6 plus feet of new snow, warming temperatures - and to top it off, the threat of a rumbling Mt. Redoubt 130 miles to the west. But we couldn't stay home; the forecast was calling for a blizzard warning that evening. We had one day to give it a go before going back to the wait game. So the Friday afternoon discussions began; where to go what to do who wants to go. I cast big in the hopes of netting some trailbreakers and got 1 yes and 4 definite maybes. Saturday morning we ...


Talkeetna Range


Pix from a day at Hatcher on two stellar routes....


On May 16th 2003, Todd Kelsey and I flew into the upper Chickaloon drainage with Dave of Grasshopper Aviation out of the Wasilla airport. We got to the airport to find out that fog was sitting over the landing zone so we sat around in Dave's office while he regaled us with tales of plane crashes. Nothing fills your mind with confidence like a pilot who reminisces about various spills and forced landings. Apparently losing a tail in a landing was no big deal. Who knew? While flying in Dave apparently sensed my unease and did his best to scare...


No not the pretty colors and crisp cool nights. Fall where you're plummeting through the air and a world of pain is inevitably in your near future....


On Sunday Eric Parsons, Dan Boccia, Yvonne & I climbed the Southwest Ridge Granite Peak (6729'). We left town at 7:30 am and by 8:30 were driving in circles in the maze of 4WD trails that are at the base of Granite. Dan's excellent driving technique through mud, over rocks and across ditches had Eric howling in delight and Yvonne biting her nails. Finally after close to an hour of driving up and down trails we found a good trailhead parked and started hiking up at 9:30 am. Getting to the base was easy and quick - and 1 1/2 hours after st...


A good day in Hatcher with friends, sun, snow and stability. The magic combination....


Photos and thoughts from a July 4th hike across Kesugi Ridge with dogs and children and giant backpacks....


Saturday. I float the Upper Kenai in my tiny Dory and thoroughly enjoy the say. It feels like summer; the sun is shining brightly and the salmon are rolling underneath my boat - I even manage to catch a couple. The Upper Kenai is pretty calm for such a nice day. Everyone sits around in the sun enjoying the weather... life is good. Then Eric calls. Like a true yuppie I pull out the cell phone on the river and chat it up. "Hello?" - "Climbing tomorrow sounds good." - "Talkeetna mountains?" - "Weather looks good?" - "Lower Sp...


Jake rapping down the "Moss Clods Slab" pitch. Oh yes - this is a classic pitch. A guide to a route that should get done more often but doesn't....


An afternoon on the West Ridge of Pinnacle....


A few seconds later he rolled out of view and I slid into the couloir so I could spot; not 2 seconds later I heard the deep whumpf of collapsing snow. Instantly alert, I looked down to see a powder cloud shooting out into the valley......


For the 4th of July we packed up the kids, rafts and dogs and headed north to Talkeetna to float the Susitna River from Gold Creek to Talkeetna. This stretch of river is 40 miles of mellow class I with nice gravel bars and islands for camping and an easy take out that's within 1 mile of where you leave your vehicle. The best part? You approach by train. And not just any train - but the last true flag-stop train in America. ...


The earth buzzes by below us; rolling hills turn to spires, caribou tracks up ridge lines, blue ice overflowing tight river drainages.  The creeks flow past - Caribou, Divide, Boulder.  The mighty Chickaloon calm, frozen in time the meandering blue ice locked until Spring (who hovers just around the corner) descends.  And suddenly we are banking past jagged granite spires.  The spires become behemoths trapped in glacier ice, seracs clutching their sides glistening and opaque. My pilot, Mike Meekins, maneuvers his plane be...


For years I’ve put off writing about the Bomber Traverse due to various reasons... but the primary reason being that I feel it's a very popular trip and I don’t really want to encourage people to head to the area. It's a pretty selfish reason. I love the area - I love the huts, I love the climbing and I don’t want to share the areas with strangers. But given recent events I feel it's time to stop trying to keep areas to yourself and to encourage responsible non-motorized usage in the High Peaks areas. Yeah...


Former Anchorite Austin Thayer was visiting and the weather forecast looked halfway decent so we met up early and drove up to Hatcher in the hopes of getting in some climbing before the rains came back. Ignoring the puddles we pushed up Archangel road and were roped up and starting up the first pitch of Toto by 10am. Swinging leads we jogged up the route and topped out on the top of pitch 5 two and a-half hours later......


Jake on the SW Face of Triplemint. Jake on the SE Face of Montana. Photos for an August ascent of Triplemint Peak in the Talkeetna Mountains. Also some some photos and notes from Montana Peak. ...


Well I left Anchorage friday night around 8pm and got to the Mint trailhead around 9pm. It was wet and miserable -- the rain coming down like crazy and the trail muddy and nasty (which makes all the trees hanging over the trail soak you to the bone). Pharaoh and I started hiking and within minutes we were soaked. I was wearing a crappy windbreaker (since my jacket is lost in the mail somewhere) and was getting quite cold so I booked it and slogged the nine miles to the hut in 3 hours (not a minor feat considering I was hauling camping gear, a r...


Wrangell Mountains


The East and West summits of Mt. Jarvis on a perfect morning. My oldest brother, John, was turning 60 and wanted an Alaska adventure so I started planning......


This past weekend I was encouraged by the high numbers of bikers and hikers heading down the trail at Chitina. Perhaps a third of the users were hikers and bikers… and while ATV users still rule, the growth of bikers over the past five years is a trend that I’d like to see continue. And so while I am conflicted on giving away techniques on how to successfully fill your freezer from a bike the truth is the ATV crowd has no qualms giving away tips so I might as well contribute my $.02. Let me first say t...


The climbing scene is all-abuzz with the recent report of a rescue on Mt. Hayes last week. Two Fairbanks climbers set out to climb the East Ridge and made it up and over Levi's Bump (10,500') without incident where a storm forced them to dig a snow cave. They waited out weather then went for the summit. Apparently they went for the summit the next day - but bad weather forced them to turn around and head back just shy of the summit around 13,000'. They descended for a while, but the weather picked up - and ...


Jake on the first pitch of the season. "Anchorage is great," they say. "It's only 20 minutes from Alaska." By they I mean the red state rural minority who believe in the Three Ps: the Permanent Fund, Providence and Palin. As much as I hate the saying they have a point. 20 minutes from Spenard, strip clubs and Sams Club you can hit the park and head east for 400 miles before you hit another road. And most of the year I manage to get out of Anchorage and enjoy Alaska on a regular basis, but the fall is different. Fall...


For the long 4th of July 2003 weekend Todd Kelsey invited me on a raft trip down the Tana River. A rafting trip with Todd Kelsey is the polar opposite of my usual mountaineering experience. For starters, since I cannot row I usually sit on the raft and just look around. Second lack of food is never an issue - breakfast is a full meal, lunch is a full stop with sandwiches and beer and dinner is a 2 - 3 course feast along with a scrumptious dessert. Drinks vary from canned beer to gin and tonics (with ice!). We took 4 days to...


Europe

France


We spent all of July in France. Three weeks in Chamonix and one week in Saint Gervais with friends. I have hundreds of photos and pages of journal entries to sort through so this is nothing more than a brief roundup of our time spent and climbs done....


Scouring the guidebook for routes. Of the 3 straightforward routes, the Gouter route (which is considered the normal route) has you ascend the Grand Couloir; a 1500' wall of choss that shreds rocks and kills people on a regular basis. The Tres Monts route is touted by one guidebook as having the lowest objective danger... But last week 9 people were killed in an avalanche on the route. That leaves the North Ridge; low objective danger and an elegant ridge to almost 14,000'. The only problem is the approach; 1 ...


Canada

Canadian Rockies


The wind was howling, snow was swirling and visibility had been reduced to about 10 feet. A pure whiteout. The kind where you can't tell up from down and left from right. Stop skiing and look down at your skis and it feels like the ground is moving underneath you. Vertigo takes control and the only way to keep it in check is to turn and look through the thick fog at your partner who appears to be floating on skis in a sea of white. I was roped up to Mr. 20ish-Grade-VI and I was sidestepping up the glacier,...


Rock climbing around of Canmore, Alberta is the polar opposite of mountain climbing in the Canadian Rockies. The rock is generally solid, there is good protection - and the sport routes are bolted like gym climbs! A great way to pass a day, after being terrified out of your mind on some route in the mountains, is to hit the many sport areas around Canmore and clip bolts all day. Once you tire of bolt clipping head over to Yamnuska for long (5-6 pitch) routes that have decent protection and where you know you'll be off before dark! Below are pho...


We were up at 4am and out on the trail by 5am  - trudging up the Snow Coach Road towards the Northwest bowl of Andromeda.   The approach was tedious, 2 hours of hiking across moraine on a faint trail followed by and hour up an icefall - weaving in and out of crevasses and up and over steep ice, one foot on gravel the other front pointing on ice.  After about half and hour of scary route finding we crested the glacier and picked our way across a very scary crevasse field, finally reaching the bergschrund and base of the ...


July 6th; Saskatchewan Glacier - We are camped on the upper reached of the Saskatchewan Glacier in Jasper National Park. We woke up around 9 this morning, packed up and then headed over to the Parks office at the Icefields were we filled out a permit for Mt. Columbia. Originally we had planned to go up the Athabasca Glacier and set up the paper work as such. The sign up process took about an hour (groan) and afterwards we headed out. The Rangers warned us of icefall and suggested the alternative Saskatchewan Glacier route but we opted for the f...


The alarm went off at 5:30 am and we were up and drinking coffee by 6 am. Our plan was to climb the East Ridge of Edith Cavell. The guidebook stated that the route could comfortably be climbed in a long day. We began hiking in at 6:30 am. The hike began with a nice trail that is beneath the massive north face and the Angel Glacier, and then up a trail branching off which took us into the high country and up to a snow slope leading to a col. We trudged up the snow slope kicking steps in snow that was at most 40 degrees. At the top we got a go...


For our first climb in the Canadian Rockies we chose an easy route: the East Ridge of Mt. Nestor (II, 5.5) - a 9,744' peak that lies off the Spray Lakes road south of Canmore. The guidebook referred to the route as "an enjoyable afternoon climb" so we felt good about sleeping in. While packing up in the morning, I pulled off my helmet and pointed to the space blanket duct tapes inside in. "You might want to bring one of these," I said to Dave. Dave looked at me and laughed, and with a very dramatic gesture he ripped his space blanket out of...


Purcell Mountains


After years of reading and dreaming about the Bugaboos, Brad and I decided to hike in and try a couple peaks.  The trailhead is about 4 hours away from Calgary and at the end of a 28 mile gravel and mud road.  When you reach the parking lot the first thing you notice is every car surrounded by chicken wire and rocks!  Turns out that porcupines all over the place and they have been know to crawl up under the car and chew the brake lines out. So at the parking lot there are rolls and rolls of chicken wire that you stretch around ...


Coastal Range


The gift was causing me to slip away. Bob had given us a look into the life of a dreamer who had abandoned all to live in the present. This is the life he was offering - a life outside of the dull realities of work, taxes, family and debt. A life where the days blend into one, where the only reality is the present and the voices calling out from your past are bottled, buried and forgotten. A life alone where the realm of caring is pushed into a forgotten zone and the only thing that matters is the next sunny spell when you c...


East Coast

West Virginia


I remember the first time I climbed at Seneca; Thanksgiving break 1992. Three of us skipped out from Thanksgiving family duties and drove 2 hours north from Charlottesville Virginia. Paul, Dave and myself. Paul and I had gone to the same high school and had been climbing together for a couple years. Dave was new to us. ...


North Carolina


There is nothing like an east coast fall....


New York


Yvonne and I have been rock climbing in the Shawangunk Mountains (or The Gunks) twice. The climbs in the Gunks are famous for wild overhangs with huge handholds. Even the 5.1 lines have overhangs on them! Both times Yvonne and I visited we climbed at the Near Trapps and concentrated on the super classic steep exposed lines like High Exposure and Shockely's Ceiling. Below are photographs from a few of our climbs. ...


Vermont


Better pix after the jump....


Virginia


The forecast for Virginia during Christmas week called for clear sunny skies with highs in the 50 and 60s so I emailed my brothers and made plans to haul my boats down when I visited for Christmas. John drove down from Philly with three boats and wet suits, I showed up with 2 packrafts and one dry-suit and Charlie, ever the procrastinator, showed up with nothing. We spent Christmas day and the day after with family eating, running around the farm with the kids and going for hikes at Sugar Hollow. Come Wednesday night my oldest brother John, ...


Pix from a Christmas hike in Shenandoah National Park....


Yes; believe it or not there is ice in Virginia! Just about every year, if you're willing to spend your free time driving to the coldest, darkest highest points of the state, you can find ice for at least 3-4 weeks out of the year. For those living around Charlottesville there is a small but dedicated contingent of ice climbers who are willing to skip work when the ice is in. ...


Asia

Nepal and Thailand


We are back in Anchorage after our long absence.  We returned to find -10 temperatures which was harsh considering it was 95 when we left Thailand!  In short we were gone 6 weeks.  We spent 1 month in Nepal; 3 weeks in the Khumbu and 1 week in Katmandu and Chitwan National Park.  We followed this up with 2 weeks in Thailand where we went sport climbing on Tonsai Beach. I'll be adding stories and photos later; we have 1500+ images to sort through as well as 60+ pages from our combined journals not to mention a back log...


West Coast

Utah


South for a week of work. And since I'm leaving Alaska I coordinate with friends who live nearby. By chance an old high school friend, Tim Stubbs, happens to live in the same town as my client. So I make the arrangements, board the red eye and fly south reaching Southwest Colorado in mid afternoon. We start driving west right way. It's dark when we get to our campsite but I can see faint outlines of desert towers jutting into the stars. Warm desert rock and dust and stars. I sleep out in the open bu...


Photos and notes from a 5 day kid float down Meander Canyon - the mellow 51 mile stretch of the Colorado River from Potash to Spanish Bottom. ...


This is a photo dump from a recent trip down Desolation and Gray Canyons on the Green River. 10 of us flew down from Anchorage and spent a week on the river. We had 6 adults and 4 kids ages 3-6. We crowded into 2 16' rafts and brought a packraft as an extra boat. We had perfect weather (7 days of 70 degree sun) and low flows (3000cfs) which meant the majority of the rapids were mere ripples (but also meant that travel was slow). It was the perfect October escape from Anchorage which can be dreary before...


Idaho


Cragging. To a climber that's all one has to say.  The word implies good times, good fun - a vacation.  To a non-climber how can I explain it?  Cragging is when you go to a climbing area where all the climbs are an easy 5-10 minute walk from the car and the climbs are maximum 1 or 2 rope-lengths.  Where you can easily find yourself in a terrifying situation 20 feet off the ground... but in 30 minutes you're back on the terra firma laughing at your antics that took place a few minutes ago.  Cragging means you go to an...


Rule #1: Never let go of your paddle! Photo by Charlie Finley Swimming big water is kind of like falling. If you don't anticipate the moment it's not so bad. One second you're tipping (death grip on the paddle), the next second you're gulping, the third second you remember to cup your mouth to keep the spray out. By the fifth second you’re struggling to figure out which way is upstream and which way is downstream. Then you’re out of the waves, bouncing downriver and you automatically start kicking to shore....


Montana


... Our route first climbed to Albino Lake where we set up our tents near the lakeshore. West of camp was an easy route up the south ridge of Lonesome Mountain (11,399') and we spent a layover day taking turns hiking up the south ridge for a great view of the high lakes region. We followed this up with a short move over a pass to Jasper Lake where we camped in-between Jasper and Golden lakes and scrambled up the south ridge of Spirit Mountain (12,283'). This in turn was followed by a long day across the high lakes plateau to a buggy camp at...


No visit to Teton National Park is complete without a rest day spent driving around Yellowstone in search of animals and geysers. A classic trip is to leave Jackson early and drive the Yellowstone loop with stops at Old Faithful, Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Falls. Below are photographs from a trip Yvonne and I took there in 2005....


Colorado


Our winter sucks so my wife gave me a choice: Hawaii or Colorado... I chose to go find winter....


Wyoming


The Tetons; will I ever tire of them? There are so many places to go so many mountain ranges scattered across the continent yet I am always drawn back to the magnificent view of the Cathedral Group towering above the valley floor. The tops of the peaks dusted with snow, lines traced with fingers of places I've been and places I want to go. And so I once again found myself there - and with Brad Hornung no less, my climbing partner from years past who can always be pulled away from his home in Helena, Montana for a 3 or 4 day trip if you call ...


...Beyond The Man's hat 1200' of rock intruded into the dawn sky. The sun was just beginning to rise and the east face turning blood red and we lay in the dirt and watched the shadows drip......


Can you really remember when the climb started? How the pack feel when you first lifted it? Or did you only really notice the pack once you started to climb steeper ground? Was the first meeting with your friend the start of the friendship - or does a friendship start slowly like the slog to base camp, solidifying only as you get higher and the climbing gets harder with no end to the difficulties in sight? [ Gannett Peak - West Couloir ] ...


For a final mountaineering adventure for the summer of 2001, Brad and I enlisted Jeb Tilly for an ascent of Mt. Moran via the CMC Route (III, 5.6).  Mt. Moran is a rather isolated peak in Teton National Park and can only be reached via a canoe ride across Leigh Lake.  So we rented a canoe and one afternoon paddled across to the peak where we hiked up to "CMC camp". We made camp on a nice sandy ledge and the next morning got up at 6 am and worked our way up 3rd class boulders to a perch on top of "Drizzlepuss" - a spire of rock...


While we were in the Tetons in 2001 my old college roommate and climbing partner David West, drive up from Evergreen, Colorado to join me for a climb. We opted for a moderate day route and went and climbed the SW Ridge of Symmetry Spire. The route was straight forward and fun with awesome views of Owen and the Grand. We topped out and were back down to Jenny Lake in about 6 hours RT....


In the summer of 2001 Brad Hornung and I traveled and climbed for 2 months in Alaska and Canada. After freezing in Alaska and scaring our wits out in Canada we opted to head south to the Tetons to climb warm alpine rock.  Along the way we picked up Brad's sister, Christina, in Calgary and then headed south to Jackson where we met up with my brother John and his oldest son, Matthew, who was 13 at the time....


Winter lasted well into June in Anchorage.  Snow patches lingered in the yard till June and we were still climbing snow couloirs like it was May in mid June.   Then the July rains came early... rock climbing consisted of long drives to Hatcher only to turn around and drive home, mountain climbing was out of the question.  Even the fishing sucked.   So I made some calls, coordinated with friends and family, cashed in my Alaska Airlines miles and headed south....


Nevada


A fall, sprain and fractures in the tibia and talus meant I spent most of September and October on the couch watching bad Netflix, [reading] [a few] [good] [books] and learning how to code jquery mobile. No late summer / fall rock climbing trip for me. After the doctor said I wasn't going anywhere tickets were cancelled and the news was broken to my climbing partner who was pretty bummed that he wouldn't get the chance to drag me up Sierra granite. Alas....


Washington


Photos from a week of climbing in the North Cascades with ascent of the Sulphide Glacier on Mt. Shuksan and the North Ridge of Mt. Baker....


South America

Argentina


Aconcagua's Polish Glacier... Part 1 of 4....


Aconcagua's Polish Glacier... Part 2 of 4....


Aconcagua's Polish Glacier... Part 3 of 4....


Aconcagua - Part IV.  Books and Web Links, route info, logistical support etc..  (Basic stuff that you could probably get from Secor's book or Summitpost.)...