On Sunday Yvonne and I packrafted a short section of Eagle River. We started at the Nature Center and hiked about 6 miles to Icicle Creek. We then floated down to Echo Bend. It was Yvonne's first time out in the rafts and the river was high and quite swift -- with lots and lots of sweepers. She was aprehensive at first but after a while got the hang of it and we floated the 3 mile stretch without any mishaps. However, after we finished Yvonne told me that my river skills do not inspire confidence in others. I won't repeat my response. Below are some photos of Yvonne. ( Read more... )
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 bushwhack once you dropped down off of Berry Pass - but in the Chugach sense of 'bushwhack' it's hardly worth mentioning. There's a good trail the whole way so if you're looking for a brush extravaganza don't bother.
The river is mostly open except for one sweeper that is entirely across the channel. However it is easily portaged via a gravel bar. There are silvers running right now - and with them come speed boats and angry rednecks who refuse to slow down and will yell at you as they pass. ( Read more... )
Todd & I packrafted Glacier Creek down in Girdwood last night. We floated from the hand tram to pretty much the front porch of Chair 5 (got out, crossed the street and ordered pizza!). River levels are pretty high right now and the section through the canyon was quite fast and fun! I took a swim shortly after putting in, but the river is mostly knee to waist deep so I was able to get to shore fairly easily.
The put in requires a down-climb through alders and devil's club - but someone has left a rope tied to a tree to aid in the down-climb (which i imagine would be sketchy if it was raining) so it's not too bad. (Hike down river from the hand tram and you'll see it.) Incidentally I was told (later) that if you cross via the hand-tram it is easier to get to down. The canyon is free of sweepers and after the canyon there are a few but they are pretty easy to paddle around. ( Read more... )
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. ( Read more... )
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 only bush whacked for maybe 15 minutes! ( Read more... )
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 Spire?" - "See you in the morning!"
I get home at midnight, throw the fish in the fridge and crash. The alarm wakes us up at 6:30 and i stand in the shower trying to wake up. Eric shows up at 7:30 (he practically lives across the street) and we're off.
We reach the Reed Lakes parking lot around 9ish and soon we're hiking up in a thick cloud. Conditions do not look so hot but the joke is it will burn off. Somewhere in the back of my mind a tiny voice whispers about climbing in inclement weather but i manage to silence it. ( Read more... )
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 starting we were at the base of the route and hiking up the massive couloir that drains the south face. We meandered up the couloir - taking a couple wrong turns before finally finding the correct one which took us all the way to a very steep final ridge that lead to the summit ridge. Once reaching the SW ridge we stuck to the left (NW) side of the ridge; Eric tentatively plowed through waist deep snow (in sneakers sans rope) while Yvonne & I roped up with 30 m of rope and protected the pitches with a handful of rock gear (4 nuts, 2 cams). At the top of the first gendarme we set a belay and belayed everyone down - the only spot Eric and Dan roped up. I down-climbed the rock pitch while once again Eric plowed through deep sketchy steep snow up and over 2 more gendarmes. The put us on the final summit ridge where we cached the rope and hiked to the summit. ( Read more... )
On Memorial Day (May 28th), Yvonne and I hiked in and climbed Koktoya. ( Read more... )
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 a campfire watching the moon drift over the Kenai Mountains. Ranger hangs out next to me. He misses his old friend Pharaoh who used to chase him in circles when we camped. I miss him too. That night it freezes and I shiver inside my cheap flannel sleeping bag. Ranger, in his thin coat, shivers so hard he wakes me up so I dig out a jacket and throw it over him.
The alarm sounds at 6:30 am. I sleep till 8. Coffee follows and then I jump into the car and blast to the parking lot where I strap the skis to the pack and start booting uphill. Somewhere in the back of my mind it registers that there is no snow for at least 2000'. It also registers that there is brush for 2000' but I choose to ignore these thoughts. ( Read more... )
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 both at our party) so our ears pricked up. Polar Bear? It's high on the list and if J.T. and Tony are heading up there then conditions are probably good. Besides, I figured, if our timing is right then we should be able to jump right into their tracks and boot up to the summit. Wayne and Steve concurred that it would be a good time to try it and Steve opted to join us so we planned to pack up in the morning and hike in Friday afternoon.
The next day we packed up and by 2 pm Yvonne, Steve and I were hiking up the Eagle River trail. Our packs were obscenely heavy for an overnight trip. Yvonne and I both had our winter (-20) bags plus we hauled a stove, pan, tent, bivy sacks, ice axe, ice tools, crampons, snowshoes, pickets, ice screws, rock and glacier gear, a 60 m rope, tennis shoes (to cross the river in) and leather mountaineering boots. Despite the load we made good time and within 2 hours we shed our pants and donned tennis shoes for the Eagle River crossing. ( Read more... )