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... )
Fun weekend outing to Frontier Peak that actually turned out to be Matanuska Peak. More text and pix after the jump. ( Read more... )
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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.
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... )
[ Gannett Peak - West Couloir ]
Saturday was yet another absolutely beautiful day in Southcentral Alaska, so we packed the skis and some climbing gear and headed south to try Kickstep. We left the parking lot around 10:30 with ski gear, crampons, axe, 30m of rope, harnesses and a couple pickets. Travelling up Lyon Creek was fast and 2 1/2 later we were at the base of Kickstep's West Ridge. ( Read more... )
[ Carpathian Peak - North Ridge ]
Silvertip Creek Ave Video above. Notes and thoughts on Manitoba after the jump. ( Read more... )
I worked all last weekend – so when a sunny day and an ice climbing partner presented themselves mid-week I jumped on the opportunity. Wayne and I drove down to Portage and found an unoccupied Follies with an easy creek crossing to the base. Follies is a well known local classic that sometimes has an abysmal approach. For the most part the ice across the creek tends to be pretty thin – and I guess lots of people have had mini-epics when falling through the ice or having the wade across in fishing waders. We lucked out… the creek was frozen solid and we walked across and were at the base in minutes.
Wayne on the second pitch.
More pix after the jump. ( Read more... )