Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bold Peak

Last week Doug told me that he had never been to Eklutna Lake, I immediately proposed that we should go climb Bold Peak to rectify this. Despite the iffy weather Doug, Kellie, Ry and I all managed to commit to the idea.

The picture below is of Bold Peak and Eklutna Lake, unfortunately the day we biked out the summit wasn't in view so I neglected to take a picture, but this is what it looks like when it is out.

Picture from Twin Peaks Trail


Bold peak is aptly named, it pretty much dominates your view from the moment you leave the parking lot. Its huge, steep, and from the front looks very technical, but when you sneak around the back you find the weak spot. Stivers gulley leaves the East fork of the Eklutna river and climbs about 4,000 feet to a saddle. From here there are multiple ways to go up all leading to the ridge and a short walk to the summit. We started out in full summer conditions, but by the top I had every piece of clothing I brought on. The hose to my camel back froze solid. This might have been the shortest summit stop ever for me. It was so gnarly up there.

I was uninspired to post single pics but rather liked the slide show for how effectively it captured the change in conditions as we went up. Hope you enjoy the views!

The good thing about all the snow was that the butt glissading was pretty spectacular. We dropped about 3,500 feet in an hour, and the best part was that it was super fun! After the amazing glissade it was back to tundra, loose rocks and lots and lots of scree. The monotony of the down hill was broken up by a curious young black bear coming up the gully. He was not at all perturbed by us yelling and waving our arms, he just came running on up...while we crossed to the other side hoping he would just go on by...and he did. Its funny how much cooler seeing a bear with three of your friends is than all by yourself : )

Talk of pizza and beer had begun in earnest as we made our way down the East Fork of the Eklutna River back toward our bikes stashed in the woods.....We were already to begin when Kellie noticed a very flat tire, a quick inventory revealed no bike pump..booo! Note to self: bike pumps kick ass. Kellie however was not about to let the flattest tire I've ever seen stop her, and managed to ride back....we accidentally woke up some campers at the cabin trying to get at their bike pump, but they weren't upset, Kellie inflated her tire and we were eating at Mooses Tooth by midnight. Overall a fantastic day out.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eklutna Traverse: The Long Road

The walk out was probably the worst part of the whole trip, and it still wasn't that bad. Because we came out on a very beautiful Sunday afternoon there were a ton of people riding four wheelers, bikes and even running. I can't believe how many people stopped to ask us if we found any snow, I don't think a lot of people realize that there is a huge glacier just out of sight that goes to Girdwood. Although in their defense it was probably 65 degrees, not much snow in site, and clearly summer to everyone else.


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Four wheelers kept passing us as we slowly walked with our big packs. We kept fantasizing about how nice it would be if someone would just stop and offer to transport our packs for us. This wishful thinking paid off about 3 miles from the trailhead. I owe some very nice guys a beer!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Eklutna Traverse: Han's to Eklutna River

I don't know what time I really woke up the following morning, I thought that I had slept in till 12:22. I got up feeling refreshed, made coffee, got snow and made water and Lynn was still sleeping by 1:30. I'm not one to rush, but thought that we should get a start on the day. It was only when I was writing in the hut log and looked at my watch to decide the date that I realized something was up. My watch said that it was 11/23/07 and that it was now 2pm....hmmm. Lynn said she would look on her shuffle...It was May 23, and only 9:30 am...Ooops! : )

There is a huge wind scoop that separates the hut from the glacier. I wonder how many people have went to the edge thinking that they could easily reach the hut, only to find this in front of them...

The Big Wind Scoop


Despite my best attempt to sleep in and be leisurely we were back on the glacier by 11 am. We decided to ski down the hill to the glacier unroped...I tried to teach Lynn to side slip but she was tenacious with her snow plow maneuver.

Lynn on Ski's


Travel this day was fast and sweet. I have to say I love skiing downhill it makes the miles melt away and the views even sweeter.

Lynn with Peril Peak in the Background


Lenny the Lenticular

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Just past Pitchler's Perch the glacier turned from completely snow covered to patchy snow with ice poking through. The skiing got a little interesting and we started rolling over snow bridges...Eventually we took off our skis to make it around some difficult terrain.



Lynn Heading Down the Eklutna Glacier


Toe of the Eklutna Glacier



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Slideshow of Lynn and my pics


Friday, May 22, 2009

Eklutna Traverse Day 1

I love the Eklutna Traverse, its definitely one of my favorite trips in Alaska. Such a short ways from town and you find yourself amidst tall white mountains, skiing on snow in summer. It doesn't get much better. Plus this year Lynn and I started in Girdwood with a quick heli bump up to the Nordic Hut courtesy of Alpine Air. This eliminated the bushy slog with skis, boots, and ropes weighing down my pack, and I think it makes it similar to Crow Pass in that you trend down hill more than up.

Lynn with the Heli


The Nordic Hut is a pretty impressive site perched on the side of the mountain overlooking the Girdwood valley. Its larger than you would expect a "hut" to be. We exited the helicopter blowing cool air and making a racket, unloaded our stuff, the pilot flew away and then were surrounded by calm, peaceful silence. I know they ski up there without ropes on, but since we were headed downhill to the land of crevasses we roped up and headed out.

The Nordic Hut
Photo By: Lynn Peterson

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Skiing down hill attached to a rope can test the strongest of friendships. I've seen grown men yell at each other and sulk over it. Its hard traveling on a rope because if one person slows down or speeds up you alternate between getting yanked backward, or forward, or having the rope get caught on your bindings. Luckily for me Lynn was a great travel partner and although I may have tugged her a few times, and maybe even made her crash, there was nothing but good times.

Moraine on the Eagle Glacier


A Look Back From Where We Started


Lynn and I Color Swapped
Photo By: Lynn Peterson


Because I've only done the Traverse starting from the Eklutna side I've never had to go uphill on the White Out Glacier. It always seemed like such a short and fast ski downhill. Not so much in the other direction. This was the most deceptive of hills, the kind that have 100 false summits and make you feel like your walking in one place on a treadmill. I recognize that it wasn't a significant elevation gain overall, but that didn't detract from it feeling a little Twilight Zone'ish

About to Start the Big Hill


Me on the White Out Glacier


Me in the Hans Hut

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We pulled up to the Han's Hut at about 11pm, just as the clouds were starting to show sunset colors. This hut is NICE! There was a Coleman double burner on the counter, a table, reading material and a loft...all the amenities really.

Pictures Mix of Mine and Lynn's


Monday, May 11, 2009

RC's Wall

I've been rock climbing more in the past month than I've done combined in the last three years...and I've only been out 5 times if that says anything! Rock climbing feels so tenuous to me, and therefor more scary. Its something I think that I need to do all the time in order to truly enjoy it, otherwise I just stay in this weak, pathetic, anxious state, and I only climb for fun, hence why I don't rock climb very often. But anything that gets me up in the mountains with beautiful views I'm amendable to...and this crag we've been going to fits the bill.

Mike on Route


Eagle Peak


Birch Forest



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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Highway Climbing

I'm adjusting to the long, warm sunny days really well. I hardly miss the snow and extra clothes, hat, and gloves. I have to say summer time suits me.

Turnagain Arm


Lynn Climbing


Turnagain Arm

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Done with Nursing School!!!!!

My sister Laura, Me and My Mom

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About four years ago I had my pre-mid life crisis where I felt extremely anxious about the future and like I needed to take a new direction in my life. The problem was I was uninspired about "what I want to be when I grow up". I had hoped that in the years following my first bout of schooling at APU that I would find my niche, and be content with a balance of working and playing. Instead I bounced around seasonal work, traveled in the winter, and worked crappy low paying jobs to make ends meet until the next season came around. Every crappy job, complete with a crappy boss, made me less and less excited about the lifestyle I had. Its so hard to find the balance between having time off and making money, most jobs that pay well, don't want you to leave for 3 months of the year, on the flip side a lot of the jobs that don't care when you leave only pay in the 10-15 dollar range, which makes saving up for the next trip difficult. Not to mention shoveling away at student loan debt with a figurative spoon...

So in 2005 I went back to school at UAA to take pre-requisite courses for the Radiologic Technician program aka X-ray tech. That first semester back was pure suffering. I took both Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2 at the same time, and a medical terminology class. Over this semester I think I cried almost every day, turned into a alcoholic, and gained 15 pounds, I don't think I have ever been that miserable in my whole life. But I passed all my classes with A's, applied to the program and was granted an interview.

I got back from a Denali expedition the night before my interview. I walked all night from 14,000 camp into base camp slept about 2 hours and then flew into Talkeetna that afternoon. The next morning Ry and I drove to Anchorage exhausted, hungry and sunburnt. I think the reason I didn't get into the program hinged upon one question, "what would you have done if you had gotten delayed" essentially I think that they wanted me to put this interview above all other things, and I hadn't. I chose to do the Denali trip, and barely made it back in time for my interview.

In retrospect not getting into the program was the best thing that could of happened. So I decided to take a year off school and apply to the 2 year nursing program at UAA. I went to Nepal and walked around the Himalayas for 2 months. Fall 2007 I started the Nursing program with about 38 other students. Over the next 2 years I performed like a circus animal, jumping through ridiculous hoops, writing papers that seemed asinine, and learned to deal with a chronically disorganized program.

Last night I walked down the aisle at the Wendy Williamson auditorium in the last school event that I will hopefully participate in a long, long, long time. My parents, sisters, and Ryan came. It was such a good feeling to have closure to this chapter in my life.

Victory was especially sweet with a huge surprise during the ceremony. I won the Directors Award for finishing with the highest GPA in my program. I'll even admit that I didn't make a 4.0, but I feel better than no one else managed to either. Now on to the next hurdle, in order to actually be a RN I have to take the dreaded NCLEX! Yikes, almost 600 dollars later I'm all approved and set to take the test...Thinking middle of June, would like to do it before my big birthday this year...THIRTY!! But these sunny days are making it harder to study as much as I need to...

My Award!