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 1982. It usually has a very very thin beginning - after which the route ascends a mellow ramp system to the canyon rim. However this year there is a super easy sneak on climbers left that gets you past the thin horrow-show of verglass and stubby placements down low on the route. ( Read more... )
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 is always good. ( Read more... )
On Christmas Eve Eric Parsons and I went down to Turnagain and skied Tincan Proper. This is more or less how it went... ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
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 weather improved and soon it was partly sunny with steady seas around 1-2 feet. We were in a 21' skiff; open in the back with a plastic cover in front -- and we were relatively comfortable. Anyway's - we motored for about an hour and about 20 miles out. Our first stop was about 1/2 mile off shore; we dropped in anchor in 50' of water and within a few minutes we were pulling up Irish Lords -- a blood red fish that grows to about a foot long and is covered with spines. Apparently the spines have a mild poison in them so we were very careful as we removed them and tossed them back. After about 45 minutes of fishing all we had caught were 7 Irish Lords and no halibut so we pulled anchor and headed further out. ( Read more... )
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!
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 called around and again more reports of indecision filtered in. Eventually we set up a meeting time and at 9:30 we all gathered. First there were 2, then three - until finally 7 people showed up. 7 people is 4 too many for my comfort level, so we chose a spot with low angle trees, jumped in the car and drove south.
We chose to head into Wolverine via the circuitous route through the woods which I had eventually unlocked after 6 times of wandering about in circles in the dense woods between the highway and the peaks. Technically I wasn't lost during those forays - but some had taken to referring to these forays as "getting lost" - a semantic blunder that I always countered. I don't get lost. Lost is when you wander about in circles with no direction... sort of like that TV show where they shoot polar bears in Hawaii and struggle with inner demons. I might, at one time, have wandered about in circles - but I always had a clear direction: to unlock the secret route from the highway to Wolverine. As the cliche goes, Not all who wander are lost. ( Read more... )
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... ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )