Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chickaloon River Exploration

We were supposed to snowmachine back the chickaloon river and go ice climbing....I was pretty excited to see some new climbs...unfortunately the river conditions were not very we turned around and Ryan gave RyRy and I the snow machine tour of was pretty awesome.

My Frosty Face


Ryan brought a chainsaw with us, and below is what the "trail" looked like before the chainsaw....pretty gnarly....but chains saws are awesome alder killing machines and made quick work of all the scragglers.

Ryan Looking Through the Alders


Chickaloon River Overflow


I learned that there is a road that goes almost to the base of castle mountain, left over from the mining days. I can't wait to go back up there in the summer....or this winter if another snowmachiner doesn't mind a tag a long. I was seriously inspired to buy a snowmachine after this day. The access to the back country is astonishing, there are so many new routes I could check out.....a new goal for 2010.

Castle Mountain

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eklutna Canyon Top Rope Mania

With only a half day to play with the perfect option was Eklutna Canyon. I've only climbed there once this season, and it was a long time ago. Ry, Merrick and I rapped into Mad Dog, it looked pretty skanky from a ice climbing/leading perspective so we just turned it into a fun top rope.



Then we went down the way and all concurred that the overhanging crack looked like a fun top rope. For only being about 20 feet of steep climbing I was so gripped, and dropped my tool 3 times, its been a while since I've felt that pathetic....its great to get humbled.


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hunter Creek

My camera battery died early on in the ski....Ry is not much of a photo taker. I've been uninspired to blog...but I like to keep a photographic record....



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Lost Chord is beautiful, looks very much like it did a few weeks ago when I was there with Bill. There are some really fun steep lines on it right now...The climb across from lost chord is much thicker, and Hollow head was still just a barely there dripping wet skinny pillar....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goodbye Valdez, Hello Snow Storm

Ry and I had ambitions of climbing or skiing on our way out of town, but with over a foot of fresh snow on the ground, and more falling from the sky we decided that we would probably get buried in the white and decided to just keep driving...


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The day we left valdez they set a second most snowfall record of 38 inches in 24 hrs and 6 feet over the week....its impressive when it snows in Valdez...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ice Climbing Valdez Style: Hung Jury and Horsetail Falls

This climb feels as weird as it looks. I saw what I thought was a pretty straight forward line on the left, but when I got close up to the bells it was a lot more eerie than it looked from the ground. It wasn't necessarily super hard climbing, just a little awkward...which made it super exciting...for me anyway : )

Hung Jury


Looking Up Hung Jury


It was an awesome pitch to lead and I'm psyched that I pulled it off. It felt like it went on forever, it was a solid 200 foot pitch of ice with 15 ft of snow to the alders. I even got to do the hook a huge hole and look down the climb from the top...

Climbing Between the Bells


I've never climbed Horse Tail falls so I convinced Ry that it was the best option for the rest of the day. It turned out to be a much more exciting pitch than it had looked from the ground...there was lots of large holes where it felt like I could fall through the climb....I think one of my biggest fears is falling behind the ice....

Horsetail Falls

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I was super psyched to get to climb two routes that I have never done before...and I've always really wanted to do Hung Jury, its such a beautiful route, and I'm so happy that none of the bells collapsed!

Slide Show

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Good Times on Mt. GoodWills

I want to move to Valdez. The mountains here are just insanely beautiful. Ry and I had to compromise on a ski day, and although it wasn't powder turns from top to bottom, the views more than made up for it.

Valdez Mountains


It didn't look very far to the top from the car, but it sure seemed like a long ways away. It was a great because the higher we climbed the more and more mountains popped into view.

Boot Pack to the Ridge


It wasn't the most awesome snow off the top...breakable crust, turnable but not by any means wonderful....but lower down it got creamy smoothe

Tracks off the Pseudo Top


Beautiful Valley

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mineral Creek Exploration

Ry and I got to Valdez late Friday night, although we did the customary shine the headlights on Bridal Veil, it was still too murky to get a good look. So we headed up the canyon early Saturday morning....things were looking doable, yet harder than usual. The river was open and flowing all seemed too difficult for our first day out in Valdez.

The last bunch of years I've been wanting to go back Mineral Creek but the avalanche danger has always been too high...this year there isn't that much snow in the mountains, and the sun doesn't get high enough in the sky for long enough to really create back we went...

Ry Heading Back Mineral Creek


If I was leading grade 6 pillars right now, I would have been so psyched by all the sweet ice back there. Seriously it was insane. But I'm not leading grade 6, and neither is Ry. There are a few grade 3 climbs back there, but they looked seriously unappealing with a foot of snow on them. Ry and I spied a piece of ice high in a narrow canyon and decided that was probably the best thing to check out.

Ry Heading up the Canyon Fever Gully


The canyon was a lot longer than it looked from the ground...and steeper. We got to a chockstone with water running under it and could spy a short step of ice above. I tapped around at the ice on the side and with little encouragement the small curtain collapsed. I fished around an ice covered snow cone for potential screws, but came up empty...a spindrift from nowhere came down and rained on our heads....I looked down at 800 feet of steep snow and ice, my inner anxiety rose up and I was all of sudden not super psyched to keep going....then I started doubting that we were in the right gully, turning around seemed like a logical option...although now sitting in the hotel typing all I can think wasn't that bad, I totally should have went for it...

High Point....LAME!


The ice to Ry's left is what I knocked down, and it was way steeper and bigger than it looks in the picture...but not that bad...that's the one thing that I hate about climbing is that I feel like a total loser when I back down on something that in retrospect I know I should have done, but in the moment it didn't add frustrating! If I don't let stuff like this go though I'll quit climbing all together.

So far away from a life goal of leading Wowie Zowie! This is one of the most beautiful pieces of ice that I have ever seen...absolutely amazing how steep and long this route is.

The Jaw Dropping Totally Intimidating Wowie Zowie

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Although I didn't really get much climbing in, it was still a gorgeous day out exploring a cool little side valley in Valdez, and I got awesome views all day of Wowie Zowie...very aptly named!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kids Corner

Stopping at Caribou creek to climb Kid's Corner has become the way that Ryan and I break up the drive on the way to Valdez. The river is frozen solid and there was a tinkly layer of hoar frost that was really fun to walk through.

First Pitch


Second Pitch


Last Pitch


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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hillside Pillars: Hatcher Pass

Rapheal is one of my oldest best friends. I have known him for over half my life, and I'm really excited that he has taken to ice climbing : )

Rapheal and Me


Rapheal Climbing the Middle Steps


One of the best parts of the whole day was the sun. Although it never actually hit the climbs, it came to the edge of the gully, and Rapheal and I sat in the direct sunlight for about a half hour. It was so wonderful, and made the pictures look down right golden.

Absorbing Sunlight


The climbs are in so much thicker than when I was here a few weeks ago...Although the middle line probably had the least consistent ice....oops! But it was still super fun climbing.

Rapheal Climbing the Schmegma

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Mini Slide Show

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lost Chord: Hunter Creek

Out of all the frozen rivers I have walked down, this is the river I have fell into more times than any other. The most spectacular snow puff plummet, as well as the last oversize crater collapse were fresh in my mind as I made my way down the river...sometimes its a little sketchy...this day was relatively cruiser on skis.

Sometimes I Don't Want to Take Off my Skis
Photo by: Bill Billmier

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The whole canyon seemed pretty dry when compared to previous seasons. Hollow head is a skinny pillar with what looked like an abundant spraying water supply overhead. The one past that on the right was climbable...and then the climb across from lost chord was super skinny, it looked WAY more exciting than usual. Lost chord however was like a glowing blue beacon and as soon as I saw it I knew it was going to be real good.

Looking Down Lost Chord

I was feeling a little tired from the ski and climb up Ptarmigan the day before, but still decided to do the customary Rosh since I felt fairly ambivalent and slightly lame for not leading any pitches the day before...I won. The hardest part of this climb for me is always the top. Since I climb it in one long pitch the rope drag gets intense towards the top...its a little brutal...but also doable so I can't stop doing it.

Lost Chord

I'm starting to almost feel like an ice climber again, although I still need to get a lot more mileage in before I catch up to where I was at the end of last season...I always wish I was just a little better than I am : )

Slide Show!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Half Tracks: Ptarmigan Peak

I've heard my friend Lynn go on and on about how this is the coolest route ever and how she would do it again and again....I learned a lot of things this day, and one is that Lynn and I have different views of favorite climbs! There was no ice on this route, not even a thin verglas was like rock climbing with crampons and ice can't be mixed without ice right? I laughed so hard at myself, when my butt wasn't puckered because I thought for sure I was about to fall pretty much every move...but I have to admit the whole day out was super fun and I'm already looking forward to bugging Billmier about going back in February...

Me Flailing on the First Pitch


One of the coolest things about this route is that its in the mountains. We had to ski for at least an hour, then walk uphill for at least 45 mins, then we got to the route...for some reason traveling human powered really appeals to me, and being up in the heart of the mountains vs a canyon makes it infinitely more aesthetic to me.

Bill Post-Holing on Pitch Two


I made it up without yelling "TAKE" even though I kinda wanted to, and I didn't actually ever even fall, even though it felt like I was always about too. I say I flailed because the climbing felt so awkward and alien...standing on rock edges with my crampons just does not feel solid, likewise wiggling tools barely in moss or on the rock just does not feel natural to me. I am a destructive over sinking pick breaking machine....being delicate is actually not my natural inclination...

Me Laughing at Myself Flailing on the Third Pitch

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Bill called this route half tracks, because its really only half of ski tracks. Again I feel kind of like the discouraging partner, easily agreeing when Bill puts the idea of bailing out was getting dark in an hour, still had the crux pitch, and another one, plus the hike to ridge and down to the pass and back to hopefully where we stashed our skis...I actually really enjoy climbing with someone that has the prudence to spot a pretty high probability dark mini epic and suggest a reasonable alternative : )

Bill Rappelling the Route


Awesome views all day, the front range is a pretty cool place to go. I look forward to improving my dry tooling/crampon maneuvers and going back when we have more than 6 hours of will be fun!!!

Slide Show!