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! ( Read more... )
On Memorial Day (May 28th), Yvonne and I hiked in and climbed Koktoya. ( Read more... )
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 like this. Get off the fucking couch and go climbing with me."
I started to protest; after all me going climbing with Charlie means I would have to secretly pack ascenders. I stammered.. it was hard to argue with his logic. So I said yes.
So come Saturday Charlie and I trudged into the North face of the Wedge. After some discussion about options Charlie chose to ascend a series of gullies and dihedrals on a buttress just left of the couloir that drops from ridge right at obvious bend of the peak (climbers left of the rock routes). ( Read more... )
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 called Todd and we made a plan. And then yesterday at 12:30 we set out and skied down Powerline pass to the base of the route. En-route we passed two climbers who had just climbed the route. They told us the snow as a little hard down low - but nice up high.
By 2:30 we were at the base of the route and skinning up. The snow quickly grew hard so we clipped on our ski crampons and continued up. However it got steeper and the snow harder so we soon pulled the skis and started booting. We had left our crampons at home thinking the snow would be soft; and thus the lower portion of the route went slowly as we carefully booted up the ice hard snow with our boots barely biting in at times. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
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 was really good! ( Read more... )
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, turned right and scrambled to the summit. The summit is the farthest bump East of Wolverine which makes it out of the way for a pretty insignificant peak unless you're running out of fresh peaks to climb. ( Read more... )
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 water bottle, bear spray, a couple bars and rain jackets and then began the slog up Snow Hawk Valley trail. The Snow Hawk trail has seen better days. At one time it was well cleared and easy walking. It's now the standard Chugach trail – meaning it's all of a foot wide with devil's club and cow parsnip towering over your head. And to add to the excitement every 50 feet you come across a pile of steaming bear dung. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
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.
[ Read much much more here ]
[ Northwest Ridge of Indianhouse ]
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. ( Read more... )
Another absolutely stellar day in South Central Alaska. ( Read more... )
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 and the backyard calls, there is no need to drive north or south. ( Read more... )
It is the winter that never left. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
You don't ski during an ice year. ( Read more... )
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.
Ptarmigan North Couloir. Photo by Eric Parsons.
Sunday was one of those perfect days ... ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )