Friday, April 30, 2010

The O'Malley Loop

There are two ways to get to The O'Malley waterfall. From the Glen Alps trailhead you can take the low route that goes up the valley, or the high route that goes up and over the football field and then down into the valley. I've done both on different occasions, and couldn't really recollect which way I liked better. There is more ski potential on the high route, and a guaranteed slog on the bottom....or so I had remembered.

Ryan Booting to the Top of the Football Field


Ryan on the Football Field


There wasn't quite as much snow on the other side of the football field as I had hoped....but we still got to ski down part of the way...skiing is so much faster than walking.

O'Malley falls looked pretty skanky from the bottom of the valley, but improved the closer we got. There was still a bit of blue shining from underneath a couple of inches of snice, and outside of a few hollow sections it was relatively solid.

The weather was kind of all over the place, snowing then sunny, windy the calm, hot and cold.

Pitch 1: Ry Leading in the Snow Storm


After climbing with 70 meter twin lines all winter, my one 55'ish meter rope felt short, and I was psyched to see a 3 pin fixed anchor right when Ryan was saying, "10 feet", it was a little rusty but way more bomber than the ice around me.

Pitch 2: Ry Coming up to the 3 Pin Fixed Belay

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From the top of the climb a snow slope leads to a bowl, and then O'Malley peak is about 2,500 feet above that. The ridge was mostly scree with small patches of snow.

Heading up to the Bowl


Hiking up the Ridge to O'malley Peak


The sun was out when we finally got to the top of O'Malley peak and so after a little bit of basking, we decided to go while it was still good. The snow at the top was just warm enough to spread nice turns, and it turned a bit isothermic at the bottom of the run, and lower in the valley.

Skiing Down!

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Car to car it ended up taking 11 hours, with multiple snack breaks throughout the day. We belayed 3 pitches, gained about 4-5,000 feet of elevation, got to ski, hike, and climb. Probably would take the low route in next time if there was this much snow melt again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Amulet Peak Approach

Ryan and I met Bill and Betsy at Hicks creek. Our packs went into the sled, and Ryan, Bill and I took turns riding on the back of the sled and machine. Betsy dropped us off a few miles down river at Monument Valley. From here we skinned through the trees and contoured around to the entrance of the side valley below Amulet Peak.

Snow Machine Ride


I'm glad Bill had been up here before because otherwise we would have kept going up where you need to go down to get across a very steep ravine, it was completely counter intuitive. Considering the amount of bush whacking potential, it was actually a pretty gently route up valley. It took about 8 hours to get near the base of the peak.

Camp Below Amulet Peak


We camped below Amulet Peak protected by a natural moat from the avalanche potential above. Every aspect had avalanche activity. There was a heavy 6-8 inches on top of 2-4 feet of sugary facets...super crappy snow pack.

I learned never to try and squeeze a hot 'mountain house' meal into a jacket pocket, it was a turkey tetrazzini explosion, complete with noodles stuck to my coat, vest, skirt, and inside pockets even.

We went to sleep with the sound of snow falling on the tent, then wind gusts and woke early to cloudy skies and 4-6 inches of fresh snow. We were all a bit nervous about heading up the very exposed gullet into guaranteed spin-drifts all day, and high potential for rock fall and avalanches. I think Bill and I were ready to talk ourselves into looking a little closer, but Ry was the voice of reason, it just didn't really add up.

Ski Track Down


Amulet peak is beautiful, the face is steep with a darker line of alpine ice. It looked exciting, I'd like to go back when there is less snow sitting above.

Coming down through the trees was less than enjoyable with leather boots and a heavy pack. It was slow going and next time I would probably think about climbing in ski boots rather than skiing in climbing boots.

The Brutal Tree Descent

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Lots of big beautiful peaks back there, definitely want to go back.

Slide show!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Historical Day on Sunburst

It was a pretty monumental occasion when Tanya said that she would be up for a day of ski touring with me, and then we actually went. The temps were cool, the sun was out, and Sunburst was a beacon of heavenly looking creamy powder.

Skinning Up


Tanya and I on Top of Sunburst


Although the snow in the sun wasn't really as powdery as it appeared, the snow in the shade was as good as it looked. I've never skied the back side of sunburst, but it was filled in really deep and was super fun.

Tanya Skiing the Backside of Sunburst


Although Tanya kept saying what a crap skier she was all day, there were no catastrophic yard sale events. I'm pretty sure she was sand bagging.

Tanya's Graceful Falling

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Super fun day out, with the most unlikely ski partner ever, and looking forward to next time!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rainbow Peak

Classic spring day where it looks warm and the sun is shining, and in reality its still below freezing. Although the snow is leaving down low, there is still plenty left to fill the running shoes in the mountains.

George Anne on the Rainbow Ridge


George Anne with Rainbow Peak

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Note to self: stay on the ridge until you can't, don't cross over early.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eagle Peak Attempt

Ryan really wanted to go ski Eagle Peak and lured me into the idea with the possibility of a skin track and boot pack that his friends had left behind a week before. I was a little skeptical, having skied a total of 3 days this year, and Eagle peak being a massive steep mountain, but I just didn't want to extinguish that light in Ry's eyes....yet.

Eagle Peak (seen from the eagle river nature center side)


If everything had lined up perfect we may have made it despite the 11:30 departure from the nature centers parking lot. But the going wasn't quite as easy as we had hoped. No avalanches have come down from above and buried the creek, so it was a bit of a melting maze of weak snow bridges and alder dodging. Then we got to the end of the creek where there is actually a rough trail through the worst of the alders, but no bootpack. Instead it was deep and steep, I lost my optimism at that point and Ry and I had a sit down and evaluate session.

Adventure Skinning


So we wasted probably 40 minutes of the day debating how long it would take us to get through the alders and if we would have time to make it to the top. In the end we decided that it was a beautiful day and we should just keep going.

Ry Above Tree Line


It ended up being relatively easy to get through the alders and above tree line. We made it to the base of the couloir we wanted to go up at about 5, we looked at pics we had taken in the morning, and we were still a very long ways away. The snow was variable hard packed with light sustrugi and patches of breakable crust and it was going to just get steeper. I'll admit it, I wanted out of there, I was not psyched anymore to keep going.

Ry Heading Down

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So we debated a little more, and in the end turned around. Now that I'm home I wish I would have kept going, but in that moment where we turned around I felt good about our decision. I'd like to go back up there, but probably will start a little bit earlier.