This summer we opted to explore the peaks that lie on the tract of land between Eagle River and Peter's Creek. Most of these are after work and day hikes for Eagle River residents; however since we live in Anchorage I rarely make it out to Eagle River thus I had yet to make it up any of these peaks.
The big plus with these peaks is they are all dog friendly summits; even old dog friendly which is what Pharaoh has become. So over the course of 2 weekends we went out with various friends and climbed Baldy, Blacktail Rocks, Significant and Roundtop.
Significant we climbed from the trailhead for Ram Valley. We hiked up the south face and then ambled along the broad south ridge to the summit. Baldy, Blacktail Rocks, and Roundtop we climbed in an afternoon from the trailhead just above downtown Eagle River. We went up Baldy, then traversed the craggy Blacktail Rocks over the Roundtop. It was a fun rainy day and we had 4 people and 3 dogs cavorting in all directions! ( Read more... )
On May 16th 2003, Todd Kelsey and I flew into the upper Chickaloon drainage with Dave of Grasshopper Aviation out of the Wasilla airport. We got to the airport to find out that fog was sitting over the landing zone so we sat around in Dave's office while he regaled us with tales of plane crashes. Nothing fills your mind with confidence like a pilot who reminisces about various spills and forced landings. Apparently losing a tail in a landing was no big deal. Who knew?
While flying in Dave apparently sensed my unease and did his best to scare me silly. He skimmed along the river, diving in sickening bursts of madness. When we landed we landed a bit too fast and hit the ground HARD slamming into the rocky strip and bouncing close to 10 feet in the air. I crawled out of the plane and ran into the bushes dry heaving.
There were 3 other people at the landing strip. Jake, a bear hunting guide, and his two clients. Jake was the classic Alaskan bear guide. He was classic in the sense that instead of flying out with his garbage on his lap he opted to throw it into the bushes. Classic in the sense that he had hauled literally hundreds of pounds of junk into this area only to leave it sitting under a blue trap so it could be destroyed by bears and porcupines. ( Read more... )
Rock climbing around of Canmore, Alberta is the polar opposite of mountain climbing in the Canadian Rockies. The rock is generally solid, there is good protection - and the sport routes are bolted like gym climbs! A great way to pass a day, after being terrified out of your mind on some route in the mountains, is to hit the many sport areas around Canmore and clip bolts all day. Once you tire of bolt clipping head over to Yamnuska for long (5-6 pitch) routes that have decent protection and where you know you'll be off before dark! Below are photos from Grassi Lakes, Mt, Rundle and Yamnuska. For more information pick up Bow Valley Rock by Perry, Martin and Dougherty.
After years of reading and dreaming about the Bugaboos, Brad and I decided to hike in and try a couple peaks. The trailhead is about 4 hours away from Calgary and at the end of a 28 mile gravel and mud road. When you reach the parking lot the first thing you notice is every car surrounded by chicken wire and rocks! Turns out that porcupines all over the place and they have been know to crawl up under the car and chew the brake lines out. So at the parking lot there are rolls and rolls of chicken wire that you stretch around your car and anchor with rocks.
After fortifying our truck we shouldered our packs and began the hike in. The tail is hell! 4 miles and 2000' of elevation gain. We climbed up ladders, cables and concrete steps poured into the rock; all with an 80lb pack full of 6 days of food, camping gear, 2 ropes and a full climbing rack! We got to our campsite in about 3 hours, set up our tents, cooked and went to sleep. ( Read more... )
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... )