Monday, February 26, 2007

Peeking Valley Recon

Ryan and I went on a reconaisance mission back to what is unoffically known as Peeking Valley. Everytime I go up Prudoe Bay road to find this trailhead I get lost, and Saturday morning proved no different. Eventually we found the pullout, put on our plastic boots, and followed a newly made road up into the valley.

Ryan Heading up the New Road to Ram Valley

We hiked up the road for about a mile and then we saw the opening to Peeking Valley and diverted left. Going straight at this point would take you up into Ram Valley.

Heading Up the Valley

The snowpack was hard and made traveling up the valley much easier than it could have been.

Walking Aroung Peak 5120

We were looking for a climb called Mongolian Barbeque that was rumored to be on the north side of peak 5120. I think that it may have been the thin smear stuck to this peak, but i could be wrong.

Two Potential Ice Lines

Hanging Dagger and Possible Mongolian Barbeque

A Closer View of Mongolian Barbeque?

This climb below was a much thicker flow of ice, but unfortunately came no where near touching the ground.
The Hanging Dagger

We stopped to enjoy a break in the sun before we headed into the shadow of the mountain and busted out the binoculars. Peeking mountain seemed to have a little somethings glistening in a couple of the couloirs so we decided to take a closer look.

Peeking Mountain

There seemed to be three seperate coulouirs with steps of ice anywhere from 30 feet maybe up to 200 feet long.

Mt. Raina

There was a super sweet looking couloir to ski coming down lookers left of the peak.

From our vantage point below Raina Peak we could see much better up the couloirs on Peeking and decided that we should probably go as close as we could to see how viable the ice was.

Just a Little Closer

Going up the Couloir

The Ice Line...Look Hard!

The air was dead calm and the dark rocks warm tucked up in the couloir. Ryan and I dug out a small ledge and had lunch. It must have been -20 in the shade down below, and I wanted to savor the sun before we went back down.

Our Sunny Ledge

Beautiful Views

View of Arctic Valley Mountain Base

Heading Down the Mountains

The snow pack in the couloir was like styrophome with a variable 2-3 inch wind slab. Kicking steps was a breeze. We were supposed to go back there today and climb it, but something else came up. But its up there for anyone who wants to get after it!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bridal Veil Falls

This is my first time doing a blog, and I can't decide what I intend for it to be. At first I thought just a place to post pictures, but its not as easy to upload and organize as Ringo. But it is kinda neat to be able to write around the pictures, although just this moment i realized all my pics are organized to be centered, which makes the writing a little awkward around the pics.....hmmm....Anyhow i'm about to tell a tale about the beautiful bridal veil falls, so feel free to skip ahead and enjoy the views, for this blog is just as much for me as you!

Bridal Veil Falls

Ryan, Bill and I set off to climb Bridal Veil Falls on our way out of Valdez. It was a chilly morning in Keystone canyon and we wasted no time getting ready. I volunteered to lead the first pitch, or the second even, but Ryan also had similar intentions, so the only fair way to resolve the dilemma was to do the R0-Sham-Bo. Ryan won the first lead, Bill the second, and me regrettably the third.

Ryan Leading the First Pitch

The first pitch was beautiful blue plastic ice. Bill and I climbed at the same time and soon arrived at the first belay cave.

Me in the First Belay Cave

Photo By Ryan Campbell

Belaying out of a cave is a luxury. You are blocked from the wind and most importantly falling ice bombs from your partner.

Bill Looking Out

The only problem with this particular cave was climbing out of it. Bill could get out on lead and traverse no problem, but for me a Ryan to second him with a long scary traverse was a different story.

Cracked Icicle

Bill's Arm thru the Cracked Icicle

This is the part where Bill was hanging onto a cracked icicle and knocking off bowling balls of ice with his other hand, it didn't look super appealing to me, and i was happy when he agreed that he didn't like that line either. So he came back down and we ended up moving our belay out of the cave where we could traverse across with less difficulty.

Inside the Cave

Once we got going again Bill lead off on the second pitch and within no time was at the end of our 230 foot rope. He literally had about 3 feet of slack when he reached the anchor. Hurray for long ropes!!!!

Ryan and I at the Base of the Third Pitch
Photo By Bill Billmeier

Although this also meant that it was my turn to lead. The only pitch that I never wanted to lead all day. The dreaded Killer Piller. This year the killer is not so killer at all but the thing is, in my mind it can't be anything but the hardest pitch of ice in the whole world. I mean come on it has a special name and everything, and its not the fluffy bunny pitch....its the killer, as in dead, pillar as in steep as vertical gets. But again this is all in my head.

Me Looking up at the Killer Piller
Photos By Bill Billmeier

So I start out traversing across the snow, until I reach the ice. To make the whole climb even worse in my mind there is spindrift continually drifting down MY line. I was so fed up before i even got to the ice! When I step off of a full footed surface to kicking into ice with two small points on my crampons, it makes things feel steeper and harder. Again most of this is all in my head, really its just fine.

Vertical Progress
Photos By Bill Billmeier

The climb was short, steep and super sweet. It looked like a grade two from below, but it wasn't, or didn't feel like it to me! I was super psyched when I popped up above the ice onto the snow ramp that leads to the safety of the alder trees. Then i started to belay Ryan and Bill up.

Ryan and Bill

I'm really still not sure how they pulled it off but Ryan and Bill managed to climb at the same time up this last pitch and so topped out together at the same time.

Bill and I

Ryan Rappelling

We all enjoyed the sun for a few moments and then decided we had best get out of there and back to the car. We still had to drive to Anchorage. We ended up rappeling down the opposite side of the climb than the route we took up.

Killer Piller Belay Cave

There was a nice V-thread set in the cave so we just ran our ropes thru and tossed them out.

Friends Helping Friends

There ended up being another really nice cave lower down with an anchor already all set up. It kinda snuck up on you. It was a pretty narrow entrance, but was surprisingly roomy inside.

Nice Anchor

Glowing Icicles

Ryan rappelled first and in this pic you can see him at the bottom. Bill took this picture of me

Bill Rappeling out of the Hole

The hole looks so small from down below. It was amazing that it was so big inside. This was an awesome climb, although I had some special moments on it, as usual. I hope you all enjoyed looking at the pictures, feel free to skip the ramblings!!

Leaving the Climb behind in the Sun

One More Self Portrait

Keystone Greensteps

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Keystone Greensteps

Keystone Greensteps is the right hand climb in this picture. It is about 700 feet high, and is done in four pitches. If you look closely you will see a black blob on the climb, that is me. (photo by Lynn Peterson)

This is a picture of the whole climb, can you still see where i am at? (photo by Lynn Peterson)

This is me starting off on the first pitch. I was so excited to do this climb it only seemed fair that I won the first Rosh.

This is me leading the first pitch

Ryan leading the second pitch.

This is my victory self portrait at the top of the third steep pitch.

This is Ryan seconding the third pitch.

This is Ryan leading the fourth and last pitch

This is our brief foray into Bear Creek.

John broke through a snow bridge and lay turtled, with his skis on. As you can see no one was rushing over to help. It was quite funny and we all got some great pictures instead.