Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunny Day in Mineral Creek

Ryan and I were fired up to get out and climb after the sub-par day before and decided that a little sun and being out of a cold air sink was a more doable option. We spied some ice on the lookers left of mineral creek that fit our criteria. If you look closely on the right side in the picture below you can see two routes, we did the left hand one.


Some sucky crust breaking on the way up, but overall very little snow for Valdez.


By the time we got to where we needed crampons we had attained direct sunlight. It was glorious and made the route much more enticing. I'm not sure what it was called, probably a grade 3 and about 300ish feet long. Nice and easy for the cold temps, it wasn't plastic.


Ryan Coming up the last pitch into the shade. Yikes the temp dropped fast.

Posted by Picasa

Overall it was a super fun trip to Valdez, but kind of on the lame side for climbing and skiing. The next day I couldn't bend my wrist or pinch my fingers together. Luckily for my mental state it was still below 0 and windy, otherwise I would have probably cried.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas in Sheep Creek

I've never seen Valdez with this little of snow except in the summer. The wind had been howling for days, and seemed to have little intention of stopping while we were there. We drove through Keystone canyon and parked across from Bridal Veil, the door about blew off as I opened it. It took about 2 minutes to safely decide there was no way I was going to climb anything in the canyon.

We ended up getting out of the car at Sheep creek, and toured up the river.


The climbs at the entrance of the canyon looked very nice in the sun. The puffies stayed on as we skied in the shade. The main climbs looked mostly in, not all of the top pillars were connected.



Nothing was enticing us to stop so we kept going until we hit a dead end...big open pool. We debated climbing, but I was already wearing all the clothes I had, and the thought of standing around and belaying was uber unappealing. Ryan wasn't super fired up either, we just couldn't motivate.

Posted by Picasa

So we went back to the hotel and watched cable television, drank beer and ate left over Chinese food.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Day with the Burly Crew

The original plan was for Jon, Tonya and I to go climbing in Eagle river, then Tonya bailed, then Jon invited Ryan, and Ryan invited Sam. So by random chance I ended up being the only person under 6 feet tall in the was a little intimidating.

Luckily for me the route we were doing is pretty laid back. It was in a little different than usual this year, despite the cold temps there were a lot of open patches of water in the gullet covered by snow, and the steps were more anemic than usual.

We belayed one pitch in the picture below. I think Sam used maybe 3 screws, I said I needed at least 10. Ryan and Jon climbed on the other side and we had a pow wow at the top.


Turns out we all were either indecisive or leaning toward bailing, and once that talk got started the snow gully ahead seemed much less appealing.


So back down we went.


Posted by Picasa

I'm bummed I didn't get more pictures because this is a super pretty climb, but it was too cold and we were moving fast. Awesome day out with fine company.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hillside Pillars

On cold days the Hillside Pillars is one of my all time favorite routes. The long approach up easy ice and snow combined with a level amphitheater with single pitch routes is perfect for staying warm.

Rapheal and I were taking our time enjoying the scenery when we got passed by two young guns.

Rapheal Hiking Up the Gullet


The Hillside Pillars


Both routes were in and we ended up on the right by default. Super fun climbing, albeit a little brittle.

Rapheal Climbing

Posted by Picasa

Another huge plus to this route is that even on December 14th we got about 15 minutes of direct sunlight. Its those little things I really like.

Rapheal and Me


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Three Ring Circus

I was complaining to my friend Kellie one day about a lack of climbing partners and she immediately was on board to hook me up. Kellie knows a lot of people, I've lived here forever and know far less. This is how I met Bill my climbing partner for the day out in Eagle River valley.

The morning started off great, Bill was already at the Wal Mart parking lot when I pulled in at 7am. In ten minutes we were driving to the nature center, 2 hours later we were at the base of the climb at first light. I wasn't necessarily over motivated this day, it was that Bill needed to be back to the car by 3pm....a narrow window for an Eagle River day.

Fog Covering the Valley


At Rapids camp we opted to get on the river and it was fairly smooth travel until a long section of overflow. We took to the trees for about 20 minutes than got back onto the river. Pretty fast traveling overall.

It was very cold out, frost coated all the trees in the cold air sink of the valley bottom. Despite this the climb was not as solid as I anticipated. There were lots of section with low angle bells of clear inch thick ice and water underneath. Very pretty to look at, and it made this very moderate route much more engaging.


The Third Pitch


This was my first time out since Lasix eye lasering in November, and so this is why I was sporting very stylish safety glasses.

Posted by Picasa


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ahihi and LaPerouse Bay

I ended up staying a few days on Maui after all of my family had left, although condo living was pretty swank, it was a little to high class for me to manage on my own. So instead I down graded to hostel living, which is still expensive in Hawaii.

I met a fellow Anchorage Alaskan named Troy and we spent a day out hiking and snorkeling. We first went to Ahihi bay, where the fish were plentiful, the water clear, and the coral colorful.

Snorkeling with the Fishes


Troy spotted an octopus that changed color as he approached. We backed away a few feet and then came close and it changed again. It was pretty cool.

Octopus Camouflage



La Perouse Bay is at the end of the road, and a huge lava flow covers most of the land. Wild goats are everywhere. We brought our snorkel stuff, but ended up just hiking in the lava flow and by the sea cliffs.

Hiking Above La Perouse Bay

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Random Day

One skill that I truly excel at over all other is killing time. It melts through my life faster than butter on hot toast. I am at ease with leisure time by myself. After a full 10 days of being with my family, it was nice to have a full day all to myself.

The Mountains Behind the Hostel




Best Snorkeling Turtle Shot

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Road to Lahaina

My brother Mike is not nearly as content to play on the beach as the rest of the family, and I was feeling a little lame for not being more exploratory, so it was easy to talk me into a drive around the other end of the island...just so we could have the full around the island experience.

I don't think we drove more than 5 miles at a time. It was so easy to stop and buy fruit, walk on a new beach, or pick up a hitch hiker.

Iao Needle Area




Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Road to Hana

My brother Mike and I rented a mustang convertible for the drive to Hana. A little town in the middle of a twisty, narrow, over crowded road full of beautiful sights. We stopped a lot, it was definitely about the journey not the destination at the end.

Beautiful Trees


Flowers Everywhere



Ocean Arch

Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kihei Beach

Its easy to fall into the rhythm of the sun in Hawaii. I was up without an alarm at sunrise, usually on a beach run with Mary Kay and Chris by 8, and in the water by 9am. We all stayed at Kamole Sands condos, and the beach was literally across the street. It had beautiful sand, good snorkeling, and sometimes good boogie boarding. A very easy place to spend time.

Mary Kay and I Ready to Snorkel


Very Chill Turtle




The Sisters

Posted by Picasa