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. ( Read more... )
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 to get an early start in order to minimize the trail breaking with large sleds.
We had spectacular weather - deep blue skis with not a cloud to be seen. At the head of the valley loomed an amphitheater or peaks in the 8000-9000' range. The ski in was excellent. The first 2 miles were relatively straight forward with only one section where we had to hike - leaving our sleds at the toe of the glacier and ascend the mud and rock encrusted glacier to reach the easy slopes above. ( Read more... )
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 - that's great - I see you have a team from Anchorage... No - it's not too early for that route but it has been warm - Good luck!" His tan face, lines etched deep from season after season on Denali's slopes, breaks into a smile then grows serious as he remembers Jeff, my partner who died as a result of a fall on Denali in 1998. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
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 goal was - but that if we were unable to get over the Gap we'd return to the original landing strip. The following are entries from my journal from May 30th - June 6th. ( Read more... )