Penguin Ridge is the roadside ridgeline you see above the Seward Highway stretching from Girdwood to Bird. For years I’ve looked up at the ridge and wanted to hike it, and for years people have told me it’s a wonderful hike, yet for some reason I’ve always made an excuse to find something else to […]  [ Read More ]
Eric on the West Ridge of Baneful Peak. Benevolent Point is the point directly above his head. Eric and I wanted to climb Benevolent (7126′). We biked out the Eklutna road, hiked 2.5 miles down the East Fork until we reached Tulchina Falls and then followed a narrow and overgrown hunter/climbers trail complete with fixed […]  [ Read More ]
These are photos from a 2015 Memorial Day weekend float on the Upper Nenana River from mile 17 of the Denali Park road to the Parks Highway (20 river miles). This is a totally mellow Class I float that is one of the better kid’s river in Southcentral AK. We left Anchorage early Saturday morning […]  [ Read More ]
Looking across the valley at (left to right) Goat Rock, West Twin, East Twin from Thunderbird Ridge. Mid May is transition season. The snow is too sloppy and unstable to ski and rock too wet to climb. Ice routes have turned into giant snow cones and rivers and lakes are undergoing breakup. Choices are limited, […]  [ Read More ]
Our winter sucks so my wife gave me a choice: Hawaii or Colorado. To me that isn’t much of a choice – I’ve been to the beach once in 25 years and that was to Thailand where you can step off the sand and clip bolts. Thus after about 2 seconds of debate we bought […]  [ Read More ]
Skiing  |  Kenai Range
Feb 1, 2015
After months of none of the above the magic combination of sun, snow and stability finally settled over Southcentral Alaska. A mid January storm deposited enough snow to finally ski from the road. The storm was followed by high pressure and cold which was finally followed by a warming trend that made long days feasible […]  [ Read More ]
The SE Gully of Benign Peak as seen from Pichler’s Perch. Indian summer had arrived. Weeks and weeks of overcast skies and continuous rain had put us in running for the rainiest 60 day span on record. But, as it often does, the weather finally broke in late September and we were treated to a […]  [ Read More ]
Dropping down to Blue Eyed Lake. We got there easy enough: 7 hours to our base camp at Blue Eyed Lake through devils club, cow parsnip and fireweed that towered over the head, muddy steep alder tunnels and up and down 2000′ of scree and snow to a secluded lake where we got some much […]  [ Read More ]
2001 was a long time ago. I spent 30 days that spring on the Ruth Glacier and Denali. At 14 camp on Denali’s West Buttress we camped next to Dave Johnston, his wife, Cari Sayre, and their son Galen. Dave and Cari planned on taking their son, age 11, to the summit which would make […]  [ Read More ]
Looking towards Mt. Jarvis and Tumble Creek from the air. My oldest brother, John, was turning 60 and wanted an Alaska adventure so I started planning. I was intrigued by the north side of the Wrangell mountains after a short visit in the fall and wanted to explore the land closer to the mountains. With […]  [ Read More ]
Last March on my way up Avalanche I snapped a photo of the North face of North Suicide. It was a bluebird day and I pretty much had my finger on the camera all day snapping photos of faces and couloirs that I’d like to explore. Back home editing through the photos a feature on […]  [ Read More ]
“When did you do this?” The PA stares at my finger. It’s Anchorage and I know her, so I can’t just ignore her you’re a moron look. “Umm.. Around 4.” I reply. She checks her watch. “18 hours ago?” I nod sheepishly. “And why didn’t you come to see me right away?” “Ummm … I […]  [ Read More ]
Ptarmigan North (not “S”) Couloir. Photo by Eric Parsons. Sunday was one of those perfect days so we played the parent switch game. Yvonne got first shift and she opted to go run up Bird Ridge in the sun. She texted me just before noon that she was on top and on her way down […]  [ Read More ]
It was the winter of ’98 and I had already been in Alaska for two years when I finally decided it was time to learn to ski. I bought skis, boots, bindings – the whole package – and I started the weekend pilgrimage to Turnagain Pass. 15+ years ago the Pass was a different place. […]  [ Read More ]
We set out to tour the valley around Pinnacle with the hopes of skiing something interesting. Checking out conditions on the approach we noted two large natural releases that had occurred sometime midweek on the SW face of Marmot and the occasional crown in steeper terrain that appeared to be have either released during or shortly after the most recent storm cycle. Taking the obvious signs into account we then studied the tracks on pretty much every aspect and angle and noted that had minimal releasing other than occasional sluffing.  [ Read More ]
“Anchorage is great,” they say. “It’s only 20 minutes from Alaska.” By they I mean the red state rural minority who believe in the Three Ps: the Permanent Fund, divine Providence and Palin. As much as I hate the saying they have a point. 20 minutes from Spenard, strip clubs and Sams Club you can […]  [ Read More ]
100 years ago getting on the Eklutna Glacier was a total stroll. Ride your pack horse around Eklutna Lake and well before the valley chokes you could get up on the glacier and be tromping up ice with nary a thought about rock fall. Even in the 60s you could still drive around Eklutna Lake […]  [ Read More ]
Edit August 2020:  For the second time in the past 3 years Bashful Peak now has a fixed rope. For some reason Chugach climbers have decided that Chikenshit Gully is too dangerous and that subsequent climbers need a fixed line to safely ascend this gully. The first rope was placed in August 2017 and was […]  [ Read More ]
In May 1962 a company of 113 Fort Richardson soldiers were airlifted into the headwaters of Ship Creek where they planned to traverse over a pass and exit out to Campbell Airstrip. The afternoon after being dropped off, they began trekking up and over a pass with the intention of a bivouac in a small […]  [ Read More ]
First a little history: Due to the prominence rule, Icicle Peak was left off the actual list of Chugach high-points… yet it still made the list of 7,000′ peaks. The prominence rule states that a peak isn’t a true peak unless more than 500′ of prominence separates the peak from surrounding peaks. Apparently you couldn’t […]  [ Read More ]
Every now and then we get that long period of high pressure where everything rocks. The temps are decent, the snow is beautiful, stability is good. Then the winds come and everything goes to hell. Windslab creeps across the ridgetops and where there isn’t windslab there’s pure ice. Runs look good from afar but once […]  [ Read More ]
Skiing  |  Chugach Range
Apr 20, 2013
I’m a bit of a nomenclature geek. I eat up stories about how peaks and routes got their name. Take Cornbiscuit for example. Whoever came up with that name? Turns out the name came from two people who used to ski it all the time back in the late 80s / early 90s. Two French […]  [ Read More ]
We knew conditions last week were good on the south side, so up Falls Creek mid-morning Friday. The bottom was melted out, so booting until just below treeline. Then a band of rotten isothermal snow (even before the sun had hit the valley floor) until finally solid crust and skins. We toured up valley stopping […]  [ Read More ]
Tis the season for post-work couloir skiing. Get up early, work till 3 or 4, ski hard till 7 or 8. Eat, sleep, and repeat. And repeat we did. Turnagain on Saturday, Peak 3 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. South side couloirs on Thursday and Friday. 6 days of skiing in a week for a […]  [ Read More ]
Peter above the Arm Amy above the Arm Scott above the Arm Peter & Amy Sun, snow and stability continues to linger in Southcentral Alaska, so we chose a steep up-track that we normally wouldn’t touch due to exposure from above. We tromped up the steep tree covered ridge topping out on a sharp ridgeline […]  [ Read More ]
Skiing  |  Kenai Range
Mar 13, 2013
Bertha Creek Highway We went south seeking sun, snow and stability. Out the car in fringed temps and up Bertha Creek to Granddaddy, which we knew was in. The north ridge of Granddaddy was wind blasted rime ice with constant 25mph winds beating us as we climbed. Then off the top and down onto the […]  [ Read More ]
Pete & Amy inside the ping pong ball. Sun, snow and stability in Hatcher. Three things that never happen in those mountains north of town that I tend to write off just about every winter. I love Hatcher in the summer- cragging, trekking, crumbling granite ridges – good clean alpine fun. But Hatcher in the […]  [ Read More ]
Ripple. How many times have you climbed it? Once a season? Twice a season? Three times? For the past two years? For the past five years? 10 years? If you’re a southcentral ice climber it’s that route that you do at least once a year. It’s close, it’s always in, and it’s always enjoyable. Beginning […]  [ Read More ]
Everyone is complaining about the snow and the snowpack; both of which have been abysmal this year. We had snow in October followed by a long dry and cold period followed by snow that came in dry and left wet. Which left us with a low snowpack and absolute horrific avalanche conditions. So needless to […]  [ Read More ]
There is nothing like an east coast fall. The changing leaves turn the landscape into a burst of color and the crisp nights are perfect for camping. During the day the temp hovers in the 60s and the rock bakes making it perhaps the best destination in the world for a late October rock climbing […]  [ Read More ]
Beautiful weather made us take a break from home projects and head into the mountains for a day. Into the truck, south on the highway, sharp left turn into Girdwood Valley and a beeline to the Bake Shop – because no visit to Girdwood is complete without contemplation of their famous sticky roles served with […]  [ Read More ]
Between weather, work and planning for our July trip I did not get out much this past spring. The few times I did get out it was for a quick jaunt up something in the Frontrange… more specifically – for yet another quick hike up Flattop, Peak 2, Peak 3, Peak 4 – or all […]  [ Read More ]
Scouring the guidebook for routes. Of the 3 straightforward routes, the Gouter route (which is considered the normal route) has you ascend the Grand Couloir; a 1500′ wall of choss that shreds rocks and kills people on a regular basis. The Tres Monts route is touted by one guidebook as having the lowest objective danger… […]  [ Read More ]
Mountaineering  |  France
Jul 1, 2012
Chamonix. Where to start? If you’re a mountain climber sooner or later you’ll come here. Every climber you know raves about it and tells you to go. Indeed by our third day I happened upon climbers who in the past had crashed at our house en-route to Denali. Like I said… Sooner or later you’ll […]  [ Read More ]
A quick trip to Boise to visit my (used to be) little brother. Of course my brother wants to entertain so even before I get there he starts sending texts about current levels on the Main Payette (“10,000 cfs on the Main. Big Water. Big Fun!”). I call him and tell him he’s crazy. My […]  [ Read More ]
Skiing  |  Canadian Rockies
Apr 22, 2012
The wind was howling, snow was swirling and visibility had been reduced to about 10 feet. A pure whiteout. The kind where you can’t tell up from down and left from right. Stop skiing and look down at your skis and it feels like the ground is moving underneath you. Vertigo takes control and the […]  [ Read More ]
Trekking  |  Utah
Mar 30, 2012
South for a week of work. And since I’m leaving Alaska I coordinate with friends who live nearby. By chance an old high school friend, Tim Stubbs, happens to live in the same town as my client. So I make the arrangements, board the red eye and fly south reaching Southwest Colorado in mid afternoon. […]  [ Read More ]
What is a forecast? When the ave center gives you a green light, how does it affect your motives and goals for the day? That was the discussion of the day as we skinned up valley under crystal blue skies with what appeared to be a stellar snowpack. We had a big line in mind […]  [ Read More ]
Rock Climbing  |  Talkeetna Range
Sep 11, 2011
Fall. No not the pretty colors and crisp cool nights. Fall where you’re plummeting through the air and a world of pain is inevitably in your near future. I hate falling. In 21 years of climbing I have fallen exactly 6 times and every single one of those falls is a vivid memory. Of course […]  [ Read More ]
Former Anchorite Austin Thayer was visiting and the weather forecast looked halfway decent so we met up early and drove up to Hatcher in the hopes of getting in some climbing before the rains came back. Ignoring the puddles we pushed up Archangel road and were roped up and starting up the first pitch of […]  [ Read More ]