Yes; believe it or not there is ice in Virginia! Just about every year, if you're willing to spend your free time driving to the coldest, darkest highest points of the state, you can find ice for at least 3-4 weeks out of the year. For those living around Charlottesville there is a small but dedicated contingent of ice climbers who are willing to skip work when the ice is in.
Yvonne and I have been rock climbing in the Shawangunk Mountains (or The Gunks) twice. The climbs in the Gunks are famous for wild overhangs with huge handholds. Even the 5.1 lines have overhangs on them! Both times Yvonne and I visited we climbed at the Near Trapps and concentrated on the super classic steep exposed lines like High Exposure and Shockely's Ceiling. Below are photographs from a few of our climbs.
On March 27th Yvonne and I climbed the E. face / East couloir of Indianhouse Peak. The route was very straightforward and fun. It began with a nice hike that was free of snow up through the brush on faint game trails until we reached a bump on the south ridge at around 3000'. We then traversed the entire East face until we reached the prominent couloir you can see from the highway.
Traversing the snow slopes was slow going due to deep rotten snow. We had hoped to be across them before it was too hot but the rotten snow slowed our progress and we ended up traversing them at 11am - which is about the worst time to be on an east facing slope in March.
After we reached the couloir, the snow was much more compact and we made quick progress upwards. About 100' from the top of the couloir, the couloir splits. We took the right branch and followed steep (up to 45 degrees) snow up to the summit ridge. After that it was a simple walk (in deep snow) to the summit.
To descend we opted to take the couloir all the way to the base. It is key to aim for the large spruce left of the couloir as you near the base. We ended up going too far down the couloir and ran into open water. We had to backtrack through deep snow and alders to reach the spruce. From there it was a simple walk down through the woods until we reached an old road which dumped us out right next to Indian Valley meats.
The route took us just under 10 hours to complete. It was an excellent route and made for a fun spring climb! ( Read more... )
No visit to Teton National Park is complete without a rest day spent driving around Yellowstone in search of animals and geysers. A classic trip is to leave Jackson early and drive the Yellowstone loop with stops at Old Faithful, Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Falls. Below are photographs from a trip Yvonne and I took there in 2005. ( Read more... )
For the long 4th of July 2003 weekend Todd Kelsey invited me on a raft trip down the Tana River. A rafting trip with Todd Kelsey is the polar opposite of my usual mountaineering experience. For starters, since I cannot row I usually sit on the raft and just look around. Second lack of food is never an issue - breakfast is a full meal, lunch is a full stop with sandwiches and beer and dinner is a 2 - 3 course feast along with a scrumptious dessert. Drinks vary from canned beer to gin and tonics (with ice!).
We took 4 days to float the Tana River. We flew out of Chitina and landed about 5 miles upstream from the canyon where we made camp below huge sand dunes. The next day we explored the sand dunes in the morning and that afternoon floated through the canyon which was about 5 miles up HUGE Class IV whitewater. I've never seen anything like that and our 3 raft captains rowed through the giant swells and around deep swirling pools with ease. ( Read more... )
Well... 2006 marks my 10th summer and 7th year in Alaska. I've spent many of summer climbing, hiking, rafting and finally rediscovered the joys of fishing. However - until Monday I had never been dipnetting.
Dipnetting refers to the harvesting method where you stick a huge net into the water and scoop out fish. You can dipnet for reds, pinks and silvers. You are only allowed to dipnet one king per year. We went for reds - the harvest limit being 40 reds per household. There were 5 of us - Myself, Scott Hauser, Rachael Steer (Scott's sister-in-law), Zach Steer (Scott's brother in law) and Jack - who works for Zach at Zach's lodge.
So we loaded up - Scott, Rachael and I first driving to Sheep Mountain Lodge (about 2 1/2 hours form Anchorage) where we met Zach and Jack (Zach is the owner). Then we drove the additional 2 hours to Chitina which is on the West side of the Copper River.
In Chitna we dumped the trucks along a dirt road and transferred everything to 4-wheelers. In Alaska any true bush adventure always involves some sort of hairball transportation. In our case it was a 4-wheeler, an oversized trailer and a bunch of heavy coolers full of the essential dipnetting supplies (ice, jackets, snacks and beer). ( Read more... )
For an end of summer trip Scott and Becky Hauser invited us out on their parents sailboat - the 42' Contagious. On friday Scott, Becky, Becky's sister Rachel, Yvonne and I drove to Whittier on Friday night and spent the night on the boat in typical Whittier weather - hard driving cold rain. We fully expected a miserable wet weekend. However - we awoke the next morning to a beautiful fall morning with crisp clear skies.
By 10am we pulled out of the Whittier harbor and were sailing east along passage canal. Whittier is tucked in at the far western end of Passage Canal. For the most part the winds do not pick up very often - which means you have to motor quite a ways before you can break out the sails. ( 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... )
While we were in the Tetons in 2001 my old college roommate and climbing partner David West, drive up from Evergreen, Colorado to join me for a climb. We opted for a moderate day route and went and climbed the SW Ridge of Symmetry Spire. The route was straight forward and fun with awesome views of Owen and the Grand. We topped out and were back down to Jenny Lake in about 6 hours RT. ( Read more... )
For a final mountaineering adventure for the summer of 2001, Brad and I enlisted Jeb Tilly for an ascent of Mt. Moran via the CMC Route (III, 5.6). Mt. Moran is a rather isolated peak in Teton National Park and can only be reached via a canoe ride across Leigh Lake. So we rented a canoe and one afternoon paddled across to the peak where we hiked up to "CMC camp".
We made camp on a nice sandy ledge and the next morning got up at 6 am and worked our way up 3rd class boulders to a perch on top of "Drizzlepuss" - a spire of rock that sits above the actual CMC route. From the spire we rapped 150' down to a col where we regrouped and actually began the climb.
The climb is very straight forward: you ascend 5-6 pitches of moderate excellent compact rock on a giant slab above the Falling Ice Glacier and to the left of the Black Dike - a huge geological formation you can see for miles in all directions. ( Read more... )