Sunday, November 30, 2008

Good Bye Valdez

It's only going to get better!

Bridal Veil




Ryan in the OM Gym

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Piece of Shit

I always feel a bit embarrassed to climb Piece of Shit when I'm in Valdez, maybe its the name that demeans the climb, maybe its because of all the times I've been across the river looking down and scoff, what a piece of shit that climb is. But in truth, every time I've climbed POS, I have thought that it is a pretty worthy pitch of ice. And in the rain and wind of Friday morning, it was protected and seemed like a good option.

Piece of Shit in all its Glory


Lynn Leading the Left Side


Doug Playing in the Cave


Me Leading the Right Side

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Nineteen Mile Wall

We woke up to at least a foot of fresh wet powder covering the car, the road and the climbs. It was glopped on Bridal Veil, Green Steps and Simple Twist. The wind was blowing through the canyon, and everything looked pretty unapplealing. So we headed up the road and ended up stopping below the Nineteen Mile Wall.

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Snowy Alder Tromping
Photo By: Lynn Peterson

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It was a ridiculously snowy tromp up about 400 feet through snow laden alder trees. Ryan won the first rosh and alternated between climbing and shoveling his way up the route. The upper pitch was steep and free of snow. It was humbling, I got so gripped. It looked so short, but it totally kicked my ass.

Me Leading the Upper Pitch
Photo by Lynn Peterson


Ryan Rappelling the Upper Pitch


Ryan Leading the Lower Right Route


Parts of Lynn, Ry and I

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kid's Corner

Lynn, Ry, and I left for Valdez this morning, and on the way stopped off and did Kids Corner. I love that climb, its pretty, and the ice was in bigger than I've ever seen it this time of year.

Ry Walking up to the Climb


Lynn won the first rosh, and did a styley job leading a rather cantankerous pitch of ice, lots of big dinner plates, but she cleaned it up pretty good for me and Ry : )

Lynn Leading the First Pitch of Kids Corner


Then I won the rosh for the second pitch, and Ryan got the third. The ice got sticker and juicier the farther up we went. At the top it was one hit wonder swings, definitely no complaints.

Ry Leading the Last Pitch


Lynn, Ry and I

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Now we are in Valdez and its dumping snow!!! Not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I'm sure it will be good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Three Ring Circus

The climbs in Eagle River Valley are in peak condition right now. The ice on Three Ring Circus was blue, thick, and succulent. An avalanche had come through just the day before, and it didn't look like much snow was lingering above the climb.

A look down the Eagle River valley.



I think that getting down this climb, is almost physically harder than going up. There are four rappels, three of which are over long lower angle snow ramps, and the rope just ends up being a snarly globular mess. The twistiness of the route also makes for some arm burning rope pulling...great exercise : )

Cassi Rappelling

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I know I've said this before, but this is one of my favorite routes. The ski out last night was amazing. It was snowing/almost raining lightly and the snow was so slick the glide was brilliant.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Avalon Falls

This might be my favorite route. Its about 2,300 feet long, and is a series of moderate to easy ice steps. It just keeps giving the whole way up.

Lynn and I on the First Pitch

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Ry and Lynn



This is the best pitch of ice on the whole climb. Its deceptively steep, and a pretty full pitch. Ry won the Rosh, he's on a roll with fate right now.



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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hillside Pillars

Lynn, Ryan, and I have been watching the Hillside Pillars slowly grow over the last month, and yesterday we decided to go check them out. The river crossing was super straight forward and easy. The first pitch was in great and had minimal snow. The weather was partly clear and very calm. The snow was light and fluffy, and there is only a mini cornice hanging above the climbs.

Ry Approaching the Upper Pillars


Ry and Lynn standing Below the Left Pillar


Ry won the rosh on the left pillar, and got to do a super fun and spicy lead. He managed it in fine style.

Ry at Leading the Left Pillar


I got the default lead on the Right pillar. I kinda wanted to lead the proud chandliered line, but wasn't feeling it, so went for the thicker left line, with the obligatory rock wedge. We toproped the middle line afterward, and I was so glad I didn't lead it, I think I probably would have cried. It was wicked steep, and the pro would have been very difficult to manage. Maybe next week!

Ry Cleaning the Right Pillar

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All in all a fantastic day out with two of my favorite people, on my favorite climb.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dreams of Brown Moose

Saturday might have been the nicest day I have ever had climbing in Portage. It was uncharacteristically calm and clear. It was also probably one of the least suffering days I've had with Lynn, we didn't post-hole or bushwhack all day.

I think that walking uphill with climbing gear is a good test of fitness for me, and I am not feeling very fit this season! My climbing pack is feeling pretty heavy. Dreams of Brown Moose is located about 800-1000 feet up a huge avalanche gully. And I huffed and puffed and marveled at how it looked so close but still wasn't getting closer. The avalanche debris was bizarre golf size to grapefruit sized balls. It reminded me of a pool of plastic balls at kids play zones. They were pretty uncohesive and anywhere from 1 to 20 layers thick.

Lynn walking up the Avalanche Gully


Lynn Leading the Second Pitch


I keep hearing about how fat Dreams was in this year....but I think everyone has their own definition of "fat", because when I can look through the climb and see the rock, or feel like if I kick too hard I might fall through the climb, I really just can't say its "fat". The bottom pitch was definitely more "fat" than the top, and it was all climbable, but I couldn't help but think how subjective ice climbing descriptions are.

Lynn and I at the Top of the Last Pitch


It was a super fun climb, and thanks to the parties before us we didn't even have to set one V-thread all day. Definitely one of those climbs you want to do when it hasn't been snowing! (READ: huge avi gulley)

We made it out just as it was getting dark and were treated to mountain views with the moon coming in and out of wispy clouds. The car beers weren't even frozen! Great Day out!!!

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Recon of Arctic Valley

I didn't get done with work and school stuff till 2pm on Saturday, and Ry was at home studying all day, so when I walked in the door, he was like, "lets go skiing!" The obvious place is Arctic Valley, or the rest of the front range, but we have a favorite couloir that is north facing and tends to get filled in. So away we went.

Ryan Skinning up the Valley to Gordon Lyon


There was obviously not enough snow up there, our usual path was nothing but bushes. Ryan was his usual optimistic self, "this is awesome, its going to be great up there" as we skinned over grass, wind slab, and breakable crust, the mountains around us scoured by the wind. "uh huh, I think the snow is going to be shitty" I keep repeating. But nonetheless we did agree that it was a beautiful day and that it was worth the excercise.

Our Favorite Grass Skinning


We got to the top and looked over the edge with great was filled least for 300 feet. Two thirds of the run looked bare. Ryan was still game, "its going to be sick powder", I threw a rock over the edge, and it sank, the third one made its entrance through an obviously crusty layer.

Our Shadows


Unfortunately it wasn't fluffy powder, but variable breakable crust. Out of all the possibilities for snow to lay, this is my least favorite. Ry turned and tumbled, rolled, and made another turn. "Its kinda shitty down here" he says. "Yeah I'm definitely not going down that" I say. "I don't want to go down either" he says. "Come back up" I say. And thats how the day went.

Ryan Skiing

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Its snowing right now though, and when its good up there, its so worth it. Super fun lines.