Monday, March 29, 2010

Gravel Creek Glacier Snow Machine Adventure

Although I didn't end up skiing or climbing all day, I have to admit I felt a little bit worked anyway. Bill's snow machine as it turns out, is VERY heavy, especially when its buried in snow or lying on the wrong side. Bill wanted to recon via snow machine the Glacier at the end of Gravel creek, Doug and him had been up a ways a couple days before, but the going was even more challenging for them on that day.

Gravel Creek Glacier


The day was blue bird, completely sunny and magnificent. The mountains back there are steep and rugged. The avalanche danger was high is some places and questionable in others, tons of stuff had already slid, in some places there wasn't much more snow to go.

Darn It!


The Mat Valley snow pack honestly leaves a lot to be desired. Its pretty much about 4 feet of bottomless sugar snow, it would collapse if you farted on it. I swear the only thing that kept me from sinking up to my eyeballs was my crotch. Bill had the same problem.

Darn It Again!


Definitely some inspiring looking peaks back there to climb, but this was not the day to do it. So we turned around and headed out.

Beautiful Peaks Galore

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Eklutna Glacier Area

I was so excited to be invited along on Tanya and Jon's day out. They had spent the previous Tuesday bolting a line that Jon and I had spied a couple months ago on rappel and now it was ready to go.

I really need a snow-go, every time I ride on the back of someones machine I get super jealous. The drive across the lake was beautiful, a thin layer of mist was revealing big white mountains and a perfect blue bird day.

Tanya and Jon


The first pitch is either a steep snow ramp or 100 feet of grade 2+ ice and then a steep snow ramp. I was itching to sink my tools into some easy plastic ice and it didn't take long to belay Tanya and Jon up to where the more interesting climbing began.

Jon Leading the Second Pitch


Jon made the climbing look really easy, although I found it to be a little awkward and tenuous. Rock climbing with tools and crampons is tricky for me, but I like it and would like to get better at it!

The third pitch was definitely the crux. Right off the bat the rock moves were thin and steep, but then after that there was awesome truly mixed ice and rock. It was a super fun pitch. Also led in fine style by Jon Cobb.

Tanya on the Start of the Third Pitch


The views from this route are truly dramatic. The walls of this newly erroded glacier valley are wicked steep everywhere. There are also beautiful ice climbs plastered to many of these steep inspiring walls. I love it back here, with a snow machine its almost as easily accessible as Eklutna trips are no problem.

Looking Down

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bird Ridge

I haven't been out hiking just for hikings sake since fall, I've been walking through the woods, but always with a climbing or skiing objective. It was nice to be out wearing just running shoes and a slight day pack.

George Anne and I


George Anne mentioned wearing her studded running shoes, and so I did too, and it was much less treacherous than it could have been. A lot of people have been up the ridge, but like most trails the higher/longer out you get the smaller and crappier the trail is until it disappeared and we were post holing.



It was full on winter at the top of the ridge, the wind was cold and biting and the snow deep. Once we decided to turn around George Anne became like a bounding antelope and was half way down the ridge before I could get my camera out.

George Anne Running Down the Ridge

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It was nice to get back down to the car where it felt legitimately like spring again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eagle River Valley and Eklutna Canyon

I've been seriously lazy this March, which is pretty lame just because it is the most worthy winter recreating month of the year. But I have either not been feeling it, or events have conspired against me. On this day though, I was about ready to jump out of my skin if I did not leave the house and get outside for some exercise.

I love the ski in and climbs back in Eagle River, plus the sun was hitting the valley floor the whole way back to Echo Bend. When I first saw Three Ring Circus I was greatly disappointed, it looked more appealing as a ski run than ice climb...the cherry on top was the shade that enveloped that whole side of the mountain. It was an easy way was I going to climb in the shade up a snow ramp.

Looking Down my Skis


I skied back a little past echo bend just enjoying the sun and occasionally questioning if the snow on the climb was really as deep as it looked. I just couldn't make myself do it, it looked that unappealing.

Eagle River Valley Animal Tracks


Little River Ponds


It was early in the day so instead of continuing up river I turned around and drove to Eklutna Canyon. Sometimes the best thing about the canyon is that its so highly trafficked that there is no snow on the climbs, and a bomber trail. I started with Annie, but decided it was too steep partway up, then did Boones and Ripple.

Self Portrait in the Canyon

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Turnagain Arm Trail and Tales of Woe

I don't look very woeful in the picture below, but believe me I was. I was supposed to be in Valdez skiing and climbing, and instead I was all alone without my friends or skis or climbing gear. What had seemed like a brilliant move to have Ryan take my gear down since he was driving, turned bad when my flight got canceled. Darn it! Foiled!

Running in the Sun on the Turnagain Arm Trail

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hunter Creek Womans Clinic

I had mixed feelings about co-teaching the womens ice clinic with Tanya for the Hunter Creek Ice Festival. Once Tanya and I got out there though, and we met the women in the clinic, I quickly became excited to be there. I absolutely love ice climbing and I really like to share my excitement with other women. I think womens groups are more supportive and less competitive than coed. We giggled, talked about hormones and PMS with climbing, I taught about the freshette or PLAM (pee like a man) and the energy in the air was positive and playful.

Hunter Creek
Photo By: Heather Hansen


Tanya and I got relegated to the bottom pitch of split finish for our clinic, I think every ice climb before the split had a clinic on it. It was so touching when Tanya and I were soloing the pitch and she told me that I had inspired her 9 years ago when I had been a co-instructor for her first ever ice climbing outing and she saw me soloing the bottom of ripple, now we were doing it together.

Tanya and I
Photo by: Heather Hansen


There were easily 50 people in the canyon, all seemed to be having a good time.

The Ice Fest Head Quarters

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I've been very un-involved in the climbing community this season. I guess I'm still kind of holding a grudge from all the smack talking on the Alaska Ice climbing website last year where I felt attacked and then highly irritated. Sometimes a couple of asses can make all climbers seem a little too pretentious to want to be involved with, I really shy away from people with big egos and mouths to match. It was nice to get out and remember that there are way more awesome people in the climbing community than lame ones.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hunter Creek

It had been a while since I had been to Hunter creek, and I found things to be in great condition. Stopped at Lost in Space first, such a nice mellow climb with great plastic ice.

Ice Climbs in Hunter Creek


Looking Down Split Finish


Halfway Up Lost Chord


Split Finish

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