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MCA

An afternoon on the West Ridge of Pinnacle.   ( Read more... )



This past weekend I was encouraged by the high numbers of bikers and hikers heading down the trail at Chitina. Perhaps a third of the users were hikers and bikers… and while ATV users still rule, the growth of bikers over the past five years is a trend that I’d like to see continue. And so while I am conflicted on giving away techniques on how to successfully fill your freezer from a bike the truth is the ATV crowd has no qualms giving away tips so I might as well contribute my $.02.

Let me first say that if there was ever a place for ATV usage then it’s the O'Brien Creek road. If there were ever a need for ATV usage then it would be to carry coolers full of fish back to your truck. And if there were ever a demographic where ATV usage was justified it would be for the elder users who cannot make it back to the fishing spots utilizing a bike or hiking. Furthermore - the majority of the ATV users you meet on the trail and friendly and respect the fishery and the river.

That said - the majority of the ATV crowd are men in their mid 30s and early 40s who are just too lazy to walk back and forth with their fish. I can’t really say I blame them for not wanting to carry 200 lbs of fish out on their backs - but with the lazy users come a small but impactful population of users who routinely leave trash, shit wherever they please, build huge campfires and chop down trees on a whim. And within the ATV demographic there is always a small group of 20-something drivers who hate hikers and bikers and will make it known to you that you’re not welcome by driving fast and running you off the trail.

Thus this post is all about encouraging bikers and hikers to head into Chitina. With more bikers and hikers on the Chitina trail, ATV users will be forced to drive a little slower and deal with a user group that doesn’t fall into the "drive fast and kill ‘em all" AK lifestyle. Hopefully with increased non-motorized usage the dipnetting experience will revert to respecting the river and working hard to harvest your fish - and less about driving fast, shooting guns and drinking beer.

And with that said on to how to dipnet with a bike… Everyone has their own method - some of those methods work, some don’t. Here's my take...   ( Read more... )



Up south Suicide with two hot dogs on a lazy afternoon and the Northwest Ridge of Indianhouse catches my eye. A day later I'm back with a rope, rack and partner for nice long ramble across gendarmes and sidewalks on a perfect Memorial Day.
[ Northwest Ridge of Indianhouse ]


May
27
2011
Rescue Me
Posted in Alaska Range    Tags: accidents  

We just spent 16 days in the Alaska Range - 13 of those days were on Denali's West Buttress - and during that time period there were a total of 4 deaths. The day after we flew out 2 more deaths occurred at high camp. (Click here to read Mike Campbell's article profiling the accidents.)

The rash of deaths after a long quiet winter can only mean one thing: It’s climbing season in the Alaska Range. Unfortunately "climbing season" also means "rescue season" and this year is off to a bad start. And with rescue season comes the inevitable "who’s going to pay for this" argument on countless blogs, op-ed pages and comment sections nation-wide. Given our current political climate where tea party members happily gloat about gutting public programs while patriotically adding funds to our bloated defense budget I think it’s pertinent that I post some links to rescue studies.   ( Read more... )



W
The Mooses Tooth (peak on left) as seen from the summit of Mt. Dickey. Ham & Eggs takes the narrow couloir just left of the summit.

W
The North face of the Mooses Tooth as seen from the summit of Explorer Peak.

Lots of news and commentary has been published recently in regards to the recent accident on the Root Canal Glacier. In short, Christopher Lackey, a young man from Houston Texas, was camped on the Root Glacier hoping to climb Ham & Eggs on the South face of the Mooses Tooth. KTNA (Talkeetna Public Radio) reports that sometime during the night a small earthquake triggered serac fall on the hanging glaciers that cling to the Eye Tooth / Bear Tooth ridge just above camp. Apparently the icefall was immense and debris poured onto the glacier and obliterated the entire camp. Only Mr. Lackey was killed - the other 3 climbers somehow escaped.   ( Read more... )



May
10
2002
Mt. Crosson - Southeast Ridge
Trip Date: 05/10/02 - 05/12/02   Posted in Alaska Range & Mountaineering    Tags: kahiltna  
Pictures from a May 2002 ascent of the Southeast Ridge of Mt. Crosson.
[ Click here for photos. ]


Apr
17
2011
Bench Peak - North Face
Posted in Kenai Range & Skiing    Tags: non-motorized, turnagain  

We set off to climb and ski Bench Peak. We knew there were tracks on the run we wanted to ski. But we knew of only 4 sets of tracks - and when those tracks are made by ubiquitous local skier "Eric the Viking" and his crew, and those tracks mean you don't have to route find through the wilds of Center and Divide Creeks, then you can forgive the 4 sets. Besides, following Viking and his crew's tracks down a Turnagain area run is kind of a given. If it's good and it will go, chances are Viking has already skied it that week.   ( Read more... )



Apr
15
2011
Matanuska Peak
Trip Date: 04/15/11 - 04/16/11   Posted in Chugach Range & Skiing   

Fun weekend outing to Frontier Peak that actually turned out to be Matanuska Peak. More text and pix after the jump.   ( Read more... )



Apr
09
2011
McHugh Ridge Walk
Posted in Chugach Range & Skiing    Tags: dogs, frontrange  
A latest start, a 10 minute commute to Rabbit Valley and then a 4 mile ski out to the base the base of Ptarmigan. Across Rabbit Creek, up a slope to gain McHugh's long East Ridge. Then a traverse of the East Ridge to the East Summit. Fun turns off the top of the East Summit and then a 2 mile run that drops 2000' all the way down the long North West bowl to Rabbit Creek. Some early season bush whacking to prepare us for summer and then back to the Rabbit Valley trail and home at a reasonable hour.
[ Read much much more here ]


May
13
2005
On beacons and Mt. Blackburn
Trip Date: 05/13/05 - 05/23/05   Posted in Wrangell Mountains & Mountaineering    Tags: bivy  

Blackburn The climbing scene is all-abuzz with the recent report of a rescue on Mt. Hayes last week. Two Fairbanks climbers set out to climb the East Ridge and made it up and over Levi's Bump (10,500') without incident where a storm forced them to dig a snow cave. They waited out weather then went for the summit. Apparently they went for the summit the next day - but bad weather forced them to turn around and head back just shy of the summit around 13,000'. They descended for a while, but the weather picked up - and after two falls they opted to dig a snowcave and bivy on the exposed ridge. I must note that all this is hearsay based on a report in the Anchorage Daily News - which probably is not reporting something. According to the news the guys made it through the night and come morning decided to press the little help button on their Personal Locator Beacon. A couple hours later the military buzzed the climbers in a C-130 and shortly thereafter the National Guard PJs - who are as close as you can get to modern Ninja warriors - showed up on a Pave-Hawk and plucked the climbers off the ridge. An hour later they were back in Fairbanks.

As I stated - the news probably isn't reporting something - but I hate reports like this. It's what makes the "pay for rescue" crowd come out screaming for blood and what leads to legislation like the beacon legislation introduced in Washington and Oregon.

I hate to judge. For all I know the storm opened up the bergschund turning the walk down into an epic struggle… possible? Not really. It's more likely they were just cold, tired and scared of avalanche danger which had probably escalated during their nighttime bivy. They did what countless other people have thought about doing: They called for a rescue instead of taking the risk to get back to their high camp.

Climb up here long enough and you'll have a couple great bivy stories yourself and chances are you'll probably hear even greater bivy stories from friends and acquaintances. One of the best "stuck on a ridge oh god we're going to die" stories out there is Jeff Benowitz's "Strange Vibrations" which was published in Climbing Magazine in March 1995. Benowitz tells an amazing tale about enduring days inside a snowcave just below the summit of Mt. McGinnis after an ascent of the Cutthroat Couloir. They fought sanity and dreamed of a helicopter rescue. Knowing that a helicopter wasn't going to show up, they were forced to descend a wind-loaded ridge after their cave started making popping noises in the night. If you can find a copy it's well worth the read.

Another great bivy story that comes to mind is of local climbers Roger and Mary Kemppel on Mt. Barrile. They had ascended the Japanese Couloir and were on their way down when foul weather and poor visibility forced them to hole up on the summit ridge for a night. They endured the night and then descended the NW face the next morning. When I asked Roger how the night was he responded with a classic understatement: "Oh it wasn't so bad. Kind of nice actually," Roger said. "My wife didn't like it though." One can only imagine what the night was really like.

Blackburn

Anyways… enough about other people. I have a handful of fun bivy stories and one of the best is from a May 2005 ascent of Mt. Blackburn. One day I'll write a real story about our climb - but for now I'll jump to the good part...   ( Read more... )




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