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! ( 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... )
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... )
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... )
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 headed own into Valdez to ski Benzene Alley. The skiing next to the water was quite spectacular but the snowmachiners were out in force and we were continually buzzed. Everyone was very nice (no one tried to run us over a-la Hatchers Pass) - but being around a dozen snowmachines buzzing downhill at 50 mph when you're out for an afternoon ski above the blue water is a downer. ( Read more... )
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 the fishing was slow, Yvonne biked out one load of 16 fish when the fishing was hot and Todd took out a load of 17 when the fishing was hot. And finally, at 7 am we hauled everything that was left back to the car. It was brutal!
We began by biking in 5 miles and finding the same spot where we had good luck last year. We dropped our nets in the water and began the wait... And a long wait it was: we started fishing around 10am and at 11pm had only caught 10 fish between three people. It was slick (we were roped in), exposed and windy. We froze.
Finally I grew impatient and opted to go look for other fishing options. I hiked downriver and found the same ledge we had fished 3 years ago. I tentatively dropped my net in the water and within a minute I had a fish. 2 minutes later I had another fish. And 10 minutes after that a third! I waved to Todd and he and Yvonne moved our stuff over. ( Read more... )
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 avalanche hazards. After much thought I figured the clouds would shade the route giving us the rare opportunity to ascend the route in spring conditions.
The route ascends the obvious couloir. This photo was taken from Significant peak on 6/10/06.
So I rounded up a team who all bit on the first cast: Dan, Eric, Bryce and Yvonne and at 5:30am on Saturday we met and were soon driving. We dropped off a car at the South Fork of Eagle river (thinking we might have to traverse the peak to avoid late afternoon avalanche conditions) and then drove to the Eagle River Nature Center and were hiking by 7am. ( Read more... )
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 with snow, which made travel fairly easy; however the snow was shin to knee deep so we all took a turn kicking steps. The waterfall pitch was easily climbed via a snow ramp and soon we were kicking steps up the final snow slopes. ( 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... )
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... )