Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eklutna Canyon

Eklutna Canyon is usually one of the first places I climb at every winter, I think I set a new personal record by not coming here till the end of January. Things remain relatively unimpressive in the canyon, Mad Dog is uber thin, as is TJ, Annie wasn't quite connected enough for me, only Boonesfarm and Ripple were in fine form.



Erin Coming into View

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I'm embarrassed to admit, much less write down that I got pumped at one point, it felt steep and dry for about 10 feet, but that's all it took. My poor biceps and calves are underdeveloped for this silly sport.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Victoria's Secret

I haven't been out a ton of times this season, but twice now I have forgotten my harness. Bill stayed at Victoria's Secret while I went back to the house. When I got to the base he was all fired up to lead the left side, in my absence he had already climbed the right. The last time I was here I got so flamed out on top rope I was a bit impressed by Bill's ambitions.

Bill at the Base of Victoria's Secret


Bill cruised the left side, making it look easy, while I belayed at the bottom lamenting the fact that I am fat and old.

Bill Leading the Left

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We ran laps, (I did 2 in a row), got gripped (probably only me), and enjoyed a beautiful day in the trees. Got to start somewhere I guess.

The Right Side

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ice Skating on Portage Lake

I heard about these skates that you can use your skate ski boots with years ago, but it wasn't until today that I used a pair (a big thanks to Tonya for making that happen). The blade on the bottom is longer and wider than a hockey or figure skate. They can cut through snow and textures on the ice well. The hardest part of the whole day involved me clipping in to them.


The ice on the lake was variable, long stretches of bumpy ripples, smooth sections with large hoar frost crystals, and sections where the ice had separated and froze back together.

Smooth Hoar Frost Sprinkled Ice


I skated to the biggest piece of ice visible from the parking lot, and wished that I had a partner! It was in real nice. I skated to the end of the lake, and to the base of the glacier. The lake made lots of deep booming noises that were pretty creepy, but nothing happened that I could see.

Hands Across the Water


My Frosty Hair

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Hundred Below in Boulder Creek

I've wanted to go climb up in Boulder creek for years. Finally the stars aligned and Tonya, Jon, Bill and I all had time off and wanted to go. I am still the super lame one without a snow machine, but I'm working on it.

Jon and Bill headed in on Thursday to set up the arctic oven and get a little climbing in. Tonya and I left Anchorage at 7am on Friday, parked at Puritin creek by 9ish and were headed for snow machine troubles by 9:30. It started off with Tonya taking one for the team and riding her huge hog of a snow machine and towing the sled, instead of her nice light easy to drive one...Maybe the big machine could sense the hate because straight out of the parking lot it started making a clicking/thwack noise.

Within ten minutes her snow machine ski was stuck up in an alder branch (no pics, bummer!). Once we got it unstuck we had to drive it through sugar snow up and around and couldn't get it to turn. We are definitely not big strong men. I had to stand on the ski while I pushed the gas while Tonya used all her meager body weight to try and get the machine lean into the turn. We got out. Then Tonya's beast started to alarm, it was a check oil light, we stopped again tried to be mechanical. We could see nothing obvious and when she restarted the alarm was gone...1 minute later it goes off again. Closer inspection reveals an oil leak...awesome. We ditched the big machine where it was, and took off determined to find the real trail. A loop through the woods and a lost sled later we were no closer to our goal. After two sled runways and turnaround we finally got it right, found the trail and were on our way into Boulder creek.

Camp with the Big Bubbler in the background.


Bill and Jon were super motivated to leave the tent and go climb, although after the snow machine ride I thought the tent was a great idea. But I, against my better judgment and careful climbing criteria headed out to go climb. I think it was seriously -20 and it was blowing up to 20mph. My REI thermometer was bottomed out. I had on 3 puff coats, and 4 bottom layers I looked like a fat sumo wrestler.

There was a small step of ice before the climb that was super mellow, when Bill placed screws for the anchor he unleashed a water spout...guess who was climbing below getting soaked....Tonya. When she arrived at the base of the Big Bubbler she was crusted in ice and trying to haul up frozen cable looking ropes. Just not her day.


Bill Leading the left and Jon leading the right, looks warm but it was all an illusion!

First Pitch


At the top of the first pitch the shade now dominated the route and it felt like someone mean was kicking piles of snow on us. Cold temps combined with spindrift, yuck. If Bill had even slightly mentioned a retreat I would have been immediately on board, and I was more than a little jealous of Tonya and Jon's decision to bail. It was a little over the top ridiculous up there with spindrift in seriously -20 temps. Instead I said, "I finally warmed up, do you want to lead block pitches?" We finished the route and rappelled in the dark.

The next morning no one was fired up to go climb. We snow machined out to two pillars that looked amazing. It was just too cold. Water was running off the top of the route and falling as frozen drops 10 feet down. It was impressive. With no regrets we headed back to trail head.

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