Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eklutna Glacier Area

Jon and I didn't get an early enough of a start and got scooped on doing the Road to Nowhere climb, but found a very fun line just to the lookers right of the Miller Mite. All morning large and small spindrifts and powder avalanches were spilling off the steep walls of the mountains. Two people were getting ready to climb the Miller Mite when one came down over them. It looked huge, but was all fluff, you can see them in the pic below, and the sequence in the slide show.

Powder Cloud Coming Down Miller Mite


No Rosh-ing was necessary on this climb, John let me have the ice pitches and the questionable rock pitches were his. It all ended up being pretty mellow climbing, with spectacular views.

John Leading Pitch 2


I thought it was going to be a 2-3 pitch climb, but it was actually 4 pitches, everything turned out to be a lot bigger than it looked. The ice was thinnish in places and I got to practice being more delicate.

Jon Coming up Pitch 4


Top Out Shot

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I don't know what this climb is called, but it was definitely a worthy afternoon of climbing and being in the mountains.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Checking up on Conditions: Eklutna Canyon and Hatcher Pass

Things are still growing in Eklutna canyon, the warm spell was good for some of the ice back there.

TJ Swann


Looking Down Boones Farm


After my quick canyon tour I met up with my friend Rapheal with the intentions of going up the Hillside Pillars. A scouting trip up the road showed a large cornice and rather snowy filled upper bowl that has not slid this season. The ice looked unchanged since our last visit, and the lurking cornice in the sun above a snow filled bowl clearly presented a hazard...we walked up to the mine instead.


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Friday, February 19, 2010

Caribou Creek Spring Style

Caribou creek is awesome when its warm in Anchorage. Tanya, Jon, Bill and I, all went back to Cantellya, Robopick and Double Take for some spring climbing. Cantellya is pretty amazing this year, this is only the second year the left side has come in, and I really wanted to climb it. Billmier and I did the customary rosh, but I lost this time.

Billmier Getting Ready for the First Pitch


Bill took a really aesthetic line, it was super steep and really fun climbing. I couldn't really get good pics of Bill since I was in a cave, but Tanya took the same line and even had the same blue coat.

Tanya Climbing the First Pitch of Cantellya Left


Cantellya with Tanya on the Left Side

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Bill and I headed over to Robopick and it was just gleaming in the sun. It looked soft and beautiful, and it was my pitch. Snow and rocks were starting to melt off the steep walls in the canyon, but I told myself that it was only over there and not above my route. I was only 20 feet up when a small slide came down the center of the climb right on top of me, I didn't get hit but started to feel nervous. Then a much larger snow mixed with rocks slide came down loudly to my right and I was ready to call it quits. Its funny how just the day before I was telling Jon the story of how I'll never climb around rock fall again because of how a previous time on this same climb last year later I can't believe how tempted I still was to climb so so bummed.

With plenty of time still left in the day, Tanya, Jon, Bill and I all did Double Take. It was short but had a nice section of steep soft favorite. Then just a short snow machine ride later we were all back at the vehicles, no headlamps necessary. Super fun day out.

Tanya, Bill, Jon and I on Top of Double Take


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Eklutna Glacier Shutdown

Although the wind wasn't blowing hard at the beginning of Eklutna lake, by the time we got to the end of the lake it was a high wind mixture of rain and snow. After about 15 minutes of wavering, it became an easy call to bail.

Jon Cob Driving


Standing Water in the Trail


Considering Options


Looking up Valley

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Leaving Valdez

Leaving Valdez is always easier when your tired, but we still wanted to try and sneak in a couple pitches. I voted for P.O.S, but was shot down in favor of the 19 mile wall.

Team Ryan and Kremer


Things were going good and motivation was running high among the team for at least 50 feet, then Ryan really started getting bogged down by the waist deep snow wallow. The climbs started to look really far away and we all agreed it would make more sense if we had snow shoes. So back to the car we went unanimously.

The First Few Feet


Still feeling the urge to leave the car however, Kremer suggested $50 Dollar Falls, a hidden piece of ice out of town. To make a long story short, we didn't find the climb, or more optimistically, the climb just wasn't in to be seen this year. A great ski tour through the woods with fun people made it a thoroughly enjoyable mellow day out, exactly what I was looking for.

Ryan and Bill

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Greensteps and Bridal Veil Link Up

When Billmier mentioned doing a Bridal Veil Green Steps link up I was almost immediately on board. I wasn't sure of success, but felt like I was at least up to the challenge. I have to admit I feel a little bad for not climbing with Ry and Kremer, but a team of 4 is pretty cumbersome and neither of them were super psyched on the idea. So they went and climbed Simple Twist and Glass Onion.

Billmier and I did the customary rosh at the bottom of Greensteps and I won the first pitch. He had this idea of leading 2 pitches in a row then switching, I've never climbed like that, but decided there was no harm in trying it. The first pitch was super fun climbing and didn't feel as hard as it usually does. The second pitch of Green Steps was probably the best pitch of the day in regard to ice quality and fun of climbing.

Glorious Ice on Pitch Two of Green Steps
Photo Thanks: Bill Billmier


Things moved pretty steadily, I never really rushed or neglected to put in pro, and neither did Bill, I was super stoked that we made it to the top in about 3:20. Since a party had climbed it a couple days before there were awesome v-threads all the way down, and pulling ropes down steep, smooth ice is pretty easy! Under four hours up and back down...

Keystone Green Steps


There were two guys climbing Bridal Veil when we walked over. We hung out at the base of the route and debated the probability of getting hit with was highly probable. Instead of sitting in the wind on the snow we went up to Kremer's van and hung out while the two guys finished the last pitch.

I offered to keep the rotation as it had been, instead of re- ro-sham-bo-ing at the base of Bridal Veil. I didn't really want to lead the killer pillar and Billmier was feeling pretty feisty and seemed more than happy to take in on. So I led the first two pitches, which were super long and fun.

I was in the sun by the top of the third pitch and it was stellar. The snow and ice around me was glowing as I belayed Bill up.

Bill Coming up the Second Pitch


Billmier cruised the killer piller with barely a pause, and I was on my way up soon after. It was a super fun line, steep but doable, and I had some good pick holes to choose from!

Billmier on the 3rd Pitch: the Killer Piller

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Neither Bill or I had ever done the last pitch on Bridal Veil because it usually looks super unappealing. However it was mostly ice right now, and was a stellar grade 3ish pitch. It was the 8th and last pitch of the day.

There was not a single V-thread on the upper parts of Bridal Veil, and we decided to walk to Green Steps and made use of the V-thread highway down that. Ryan met us as the base and helped us coil our ropes and we were back to the van before we even needed headlamps...Super Awesome Day!!! Lots and lots of beautiful pitches, I am so psyched that we pulled it off!

Slide Show of the day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valdez Road Trip!!

It was pretty harsh waking up at 6am after a few busy days, but the lure of a Valdez road trip was strong and Ry and I were on the road by 8, and meeting Kremer in Chickaloon close to 9, we were a little behind the curve picking up Billmier, but made it to Valdez by close to 2, and had top ropes on Bridal Veil quickly.

Graffix on her princess bed, Bilmier and Kremer up front driving, Ry and I were in the far was a little funny.


The Beautiful Bridal Veil Falls


Billmier and I Simul Leading


Kremer lugged Graffix's dog bed to the base of the route and we all had a pretty leisurely afternoon. A good way to warm up to Valdez ice climbing.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Awesome Pillar

The awesome pillar was formerly mentioned as Pillar X. Its pretty much one of the most beautiful climbs I've ever seen. Its about a 9 mile snow machine ride down the Mat river from Hicks creek, and then a 2 hour ski up the awesome valley. Billmier and Jon did some awesome trail maintainence with their saws and now it would probably be even faster...: )

The Awesome Pillar
Photo By: Billmier


I've been thinking about this climb ever since me and Billmier went there a few weeks ago, I really wanted to go back. I think that it was only fair that I won the rosh. It looked really doable from the bottom, if I had truly realized how hard it was going to be I honestly probably would never have left the ground.

photo thanks: Billmier


I wish I could have done this route clean, but I got my tool stuck and just couldn't get it out, so I set a screw and had a good rest....then I used my other tool to chop my tool probably really was divine intervention...or a good excuse to go back again. I'm mostly psyched to have made it up at all, it was a super hard lead for me.

Billmier Belaying an Unseen Jon

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