Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crack of Noon Club in Hunter Creek

I feel like a broken record, "I love spring", "the daylight is amazing", but its true and that's what churns through my mind over and over. Lynn, Ry, and I had an amazing day back in Hunter Creek.

The Approach with Hollow Head in the Distance


I won the rosh for Lost Chord, and the ice was absolutely HERO! I love the end of the season for two reasons. First I'm finally climbing hard, feel strong and confident as opposed to a being tense and scared. Secondly, the ice always softens up at the end of the season. Instead of swinging ten times, I may swing at the most 3 times, such a huge difference when climbing steeper ice.

Me Leading Lost Chord
Photo by: Lynn Peterson


At this point in the season Ry, Lynn and I have gotten out a few times together. We have climbing as a team of 3 pretty wired. The half ropes, and auto locking belay device make such a huge difference. Having two people climb at the same time is so much faster than 1 at a time.

Ry and Lynn Almost to the Top


Ry Rapping Down Lost Chord

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After Lost Chord we went over to the climb opposite, I always forget its name...Lost in space? Lost Ice? Something Lost...kinda like my memory! Super fun route, Ry won the first pitch and Lynn got the second. We had an interesting rope entanglement on the rappel. We pulled the rope, and the very end of the rope on the way down wrapped itself around an alder maybe 2 inches in diameter. Such a little wrap to cause a lot of trouble. We pulled unsuccessfully, and then climbed back up to a ledge closer to where it was stuck and pulled some more. I can't believe how strong that itty bitty alder was, it just would not break. So Ry got the honor of climbing back up to unwrap it.

After that fiasco it was nearing 6:30, but we still had to walk past Hollowhead on the way out...all of us were ambivalent about climbing or going home. So we used fate to decide, my favorite of all decision breakers, the Ro-Sham-Bo. My rock crushed Lynn's scissors, and the decision was made. So glad we stayed to do it, such FUN climbing. I got to lead the pitch, and it was awesome.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Best Day in Caribou Creek Ever!

I have to say that Billmier is one of my favorite climbing partners. Both of us are horribly efficient, and usually always on time. We met up at the Long Rifle lodge, I arrived at 9:32, and Bill was packed and ready to go. We were looking up at Cantellya and Robopick by 12.

We immediately disregarded Cantellya as a possiblity. It looked like a falling rock war zone, plus there were huge chunks of ice from hanging daggers that had fallen. Robopick on the other hand was in the sun and like a siren lured us in. We saw rocks falling on either side of route, but nothing coming down the middle. After staring at it for 5 minutes we decided to rosh for it. I won the first lead.



We decided that Bill should belay by the river, and I would try and climb as fast as I could out of the potentially sketchy spot. Oh my, the rope drag was brutal! Luckily the ice was thunker, and soon I was setting up the belay on the second step. Bill came up and within minutes was heading up the last pitch. By this time the sun was HOT, and the activity all around us had increased, rocks began falling down the middle of the route. Yuck. Luckily we made it down in one rap and literally ran away from the base unscathed. Bill and I felt pretty silly for playing such bad odds. Stupid idea, but excellent climbing nonetheless.

Left side of Cantellya


There was still lots of time left to the day when we walked up to Double Take. We roshed again for the lead, but this time Bill won. He picked a super pretty line. The ice was HERO! So amazing to climb sticky ice, it makes everything so much easier!

Double Take


It was only 5:30 by the time we got to Kids corner. We had our skis with us, and toyed with the idea of bringing them up the route with us. But instead we decided to just solo the route and leave the skis at the bottom on the river. It took us a 1/2 hour to get to the top, the route was in prime conditions, wet and sticky. I love spring climbing!

Bill at the Top of Kid's Corner

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A super cool thing about this day is that we didn't use our headlamps at all. We were back to the car by 6:30 and it was sunny. I have never walked all the way back to the end of the canyon, and gotten three routes in. Usually it takes me all day just to do two pitches on Cantellya. More typically a trip back here is a battle royal with frigid fingers and brittle cantankerous ice. It was absolutely delightful to be warm, climbing sticky ice in the sun instead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eklutna Canyon on Ice Steroids

One of the things that I love about ice climbing is how much the same climb continues to change throughout the season. I was shocked by how large Ripple has become since the last time I was in the Canyon. Its such a beautiful climb, I never get sick of it, and I win the rosh on it at least 98% of the time : )

Lynn Rappelling Down Ripple


The bolted anchor that Ry is rapping off in this picture is now buried under ice. The pine tree on the far left isn't even in this picture because it was so far away from the ice. Amazing.

Ripple October 31st 2008

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This pink rope had some weird juju going on. Before we even left the house we had to get a figure 8 out of the middle of the rope, from the last time we climbed. After doing ripple I found the craziest knot about 60 feet from the end of the rappel line. Then when we did Annie, there was another crazy knot, but again only in the pink rope...I hope it got what it needed to out of its system : ) because there is no way it could all be operator error!

The Naughty Pink Rope


Lynn Heading Up Annie Green Springs


Only Lynn Would Smile on a Hanging Belay

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What a great day out. I got to lead Ripple, Lynn lead Annie, and Boones. TJ Swann looked scary to even toprope, and we thought about doing Mad Dog, but were both indecisive. So we did the rosh of fate, and twice got shut down for Mad Dog, I bet the pillar would have fallen on me!

PS: I can't get pictures to post side by side, anyone remember how to do that?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Victoria's Secret

People always look at me weird when I tell them how much fun I had at Victoria's Secret, not realizing that I'm talking about a climb. This climb is like toproping at the gym. Its short and steep, perfect for getting a fun pumpy workout in. Lynn and I left midtown at 6ish, climbed in the sun, and got ten laps in without ever having to break out our headlamps. I love these longer days in the sun!

Lynn on Victoria's Secret

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Ice Pixies on Greensteps

The last thing I thought that I would be doing early Saturday morning would be leading the first pitch of Keystone Greensteps in the shade.

Warning: Big Rant

I had the unfortunate luck to run into a truly unyielding, self righteous, rude climber. Never have I encountered an individual in the climbing community that wouldn't listen to reason and that would be so incredibly selfish.
For the past four years the Ice Pixies have set ropes on the bottom pitch of Bridal Veil Falls. There are many high quality lines ranging from grade 3 to grade Five. By the time Lynn, Dani, Kremer and I arrived in the parking lot there were already a lot of excited girls looking forward to climbing for the first time. But a party of two had beaten us to the base of Bridal Veil. The climber had yet to start leading the first pitch when I went over to talk to him. I explained what was going on about the ice fest and that we were wondering if he could move to a different climb. I can't believe that he said "No"! There are so many high quality routes in Valdez that are easy for a party of two to manage. We had a party of 30, and the base of Bridal Veil is as good as it gets. He said he shouldn't feel guilty because he had gotten there first, and he didn't know anything about the Pixies. What I think he should feel guilty about is that after we told him, it would have been easy for him to pack up his show and move over, but he wouldn't and didn't. I hope he knows he will forever go down in my mind and a lot of other peoples minds as a total asshole. But enough ranting, So all us girls moved to Keystone Greensteps.

There is not an easy line up this first pitch. Some lines look weaker than others, but they are all wicked steep. I've led the lookers left of the climb twice, and so Saturday morning I was looking for something different.

Me Leading the first Pitch
photo by: Lynn Peterson


I found my line, and it looked pretty. This might be one of the hardest leads that I have ever done. This pitch was so STEEP, and sustained, that I had moments where I was so pumped I could barely swing my tools. I really had to take my time and when I found decent stances unclip from my leashes and shake out. I have never wanted to take on a screw so bad, but I guess I wanted to try and lead it clean more!
Lynn and Cassi were my two main cheer leaders, and I don't know if I could have done it without all of their encouragement. They would say, "you can do it" at the moments when I was like, "its too steep, what was I thinking!"

Kremer topped out a few minutes after I did, and when I looked over I noticed a gnarly line of blood running down her cheek. Her eyebrow had a huge gash in it where a overly stuck tool came out at eye level.

Kremer Looking Tough her War Wound


A Look at the Action


It seemed like a lot of girls showed up to climb. It took a long time for everyone to get on a rope, because we only had room to set up three. Plus all the lines were really hard for beginner climbers, and so that took longer too. But once the sun hit the climb, it was just nice to relax and chat with people. The weather really couldn't have been more perfect, warm, sunny, and no wind, truly an exceptional day in the canyon.

A big thanks to Kremer for being the inspiration behind this whole event, to Brian Teale for lugging a barbecue over to the base of the route and cooking up salmon, and Laura for being the in town everything organizer. And thanks of course to all the cool friendly ladies that showed up to climb!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Rain Check and POS

I have to admit that after our double dipping in climbs the day before, I was feeling a bit worked in the morning. My companions weren't a whole lot livelier than I, but we still all wanted to go climbing. Lynn had never done Rain Check, and Ry and I hadn't done it in at least 4 years so it seemed like a good place to go.

Its a beautiful ski, and fairly uncomplicated approach. Some poor souls forgot their skis the day before and we could see a crotch deep wallow leading back to the climb....I'd recommend the ski!

Bear Creek Canyon


We all roshed to decide who would get to lead the first pitch, and Lynn won. Although she started out a little nervous she did it in fine style, and then brought Ry and I up.

Lynn Leading the First Pitch of Rain Check


There was only one little mishap along the way....Ry's crampon fell off about 10 feet above the ground. Now this is normally not a big deal, but we discovered a flaw in the Petzl autolocker belay can't lower on it at all. The BD autolocker has a small hole where you can string some cord and pull on it and uncam your rope....yeah the petzl one is lacking that. I haven't looked into it more, but if anyone knows how to set it up for an unexpected lower with the rope weighted mid route, let me know. Luckily we had radios so I just called up to Lynn and explained the situation. Ry set a screw, I was on a big ledge, we unweighted the rope and Lynn switched her device and lowered Ry back down.

Ryan and His Crampon Malfunction


Ry and I finished climbing the first pitch and got to Lynn. It was just one of those days where everything was just harder than it needed to be. Because of the lower, and Ry and I climbing at such different speeds, the rope ended up getting stacked....lets just say interestingly entangled. Once we got that sorted I started up the second pitch. Because of where the belay was in order to not pummel my partners with falling ice I needed to scoot over just about to where a beautiful groove went up. I love climbing in grooves. Although it didn't turn out being the grade 2 it looked like, ie vertical to near vertical most of the way, I scratched my way to the top.

Ryan and Lynn Coming up the Second Pitch

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Although you can do Rain Check in two pitches, we were going to break it up into three so we all got to share in the joys of leading ice when you are tired. I got to the last step and set the belay. The ice at the top pitch was skanky, rotten, sun baked crapola. I had to do some major excavating to put in the belay. Ry didn't much like the looks of the last pitch he had won, and offered it up to me and Lynn. Both of us felt happy with the pitch we led and little desire to excavate up to the top. So we called it good, and rapped down.

On the way back through the canyon we passes a bunch of friends climbing Piece of Shit (POS), which I think is actually a super worthy piece of ice, and ran some laps. A beautiful day out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crystal Visions and Ski Race

I was so excited when I woke up in Valdez, sometimes my enthusiasm can be a bit overwhelming for my uncaffeinated companions. I have a weird knack for being incredibly efficient, while poor Ry is the opposite, and Lynn is in the middle.

We decided to meet up with some friends and all ski into Hole in the Wall Canyon together. The approach was awesome complete with a plowed road, bridge, snow machine tracks and Lynn the most enthusiastic post holer/trail breaker of them all!

The canyon is gorgeous and narrows significantly in a short distance. There was a lot of small quirky pieces of ice high on the walls, and then a couple of nice 320 ft climbs that touched all the way down.

We decided to see how far we could get in the canyon. It got a little interesting in a couple places, but overall good travel.

Narrow Canyon, Open Pools


As soon as I saw Crystal Visions glowing blue in the sun, I knew we had to climb it. This climb was just absolutely beautiful in so many ways. I got to lead the first pitch which ended up being a bit steeper and longer than it had looked from the ground. Valdez climbing never ceases to absolutely deceive me of its true height and steepness, I see grade 3 and it feels like the grade five its actually rated at. Its uncanny. This place humbles me every time I come.

Lynn Reaching the Top of the First Pitch


Soon I realize as I'm climbing that the climb is longer and steeper than it looked, and I'm running low on screws. This climb was truly sustained at a fairly steep angle for a long time. I traverse a few feet to the right to which looks like a nice ledge. HAH! Deceived again! Instead its an uncomfortable hanging belay with a nice 70 degree "ledge". Lucky for me my friends are tough and don't hate me for whining.

The Hanging Belay


Ry took over for the second pitch which was truly fun climbing. A couple of nice steep sections were interspersed with decent ledges. The sun was shining and the ice varied from plastic to sun crusted. It was a long pitch,and there was only a few feet of rope left when he got to the top. It was almost comical when we reached him and realized he got stuck on another hanging belay because of the ways the trees were. We've been truly spoiled by our belay cave experiences.

Crystal Visions

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When we got back to the ground we took a little break, all that hanging belay nonsense is bad for your calves! It was still so light when we passed back around to the climbs we had passed, and it just looked so fun we decided to do it. Plus our friends Matt and Krista had been up and already set a V thread and top anchor, how could we say no to all that? Lynn got to lead the first pitch, which was a nice 200+ feet of fun climbing, and I got the upper half. We topped out to an amazing view and the sky turning colors. A truly wonderful day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heading to Valdez!!!

Ry, Lynn, and I got our junk show on the road as planned, close to noon. This put us cruising by Caribou Creek at about 3ish, and since it wasn't the usual 20 below we got out of the car to stretch our bodies and went up Kids Corner. I love this route. It is fun, fast, and aesthetic.

Lynn, Me and Ry


Lynn Leading the Last Pitch

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Its so convenient to get to the top of the route put away your gear and hike a nice trail all the way back to the car...We were all in rare top form, and car to car it only took a couple hours.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eagle River Valley

It's spring out there! At least in the sun, unfortunately the Echo Bend climbs aren't really getting any rays yet...but it was beautiful and sunny on the river.

Ryan and Lynn with Three Ring Circus


Third Pitch


Lynn at the base


Beautiful Mountains

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Spruce Pitch looks like its on steroids this year, there are a lot of fat, steep, and short lines to choose from. We managed a couple more laps before we called it a day. Amazing to have so much daylight again!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Love Spring: Victoria's Secret

Longer days means leaving the house at 4 and still being able to sneak in some climbing before dark. I've been ridiculously busy the last month and miss not being able to climb much. But the route below is almost as quick as going to the gym.

Ryan and I doing the Climb Around


Victoria's Secret

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