Monday, February 28, 2011


This was the warmest, sunniest day of climbing I have had all year. Days like this are why I like ice climbing. Warm sunny belays with great views and soft sticky ice is truly a pleasure.

Hiking to the Route
Photo by: Eryn Kaldor


Photo by Erin Kaldor


Eryn at the Top of the First Pitch


View From the Belay

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Hanging With the Girls at Victoria's Secret

Beautiful sunny afternoon out hanging with the girls, couldn't have asked for a better day.


George Anne All in Red


Caitlyn Blending In


Ryan joined us after he got done with work. This truly is the equivalent of gym ice climbing....and after Ryan knocked down some key pieces it was ever pumpier!

Ryan and George Anne

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hunter Creek Link Up

Its been clear and cold in the mornings, but once the sun hits its zenith, the warmth becomes significant. Later morning departures just make sense. The approach up Hunter creek was nicer than it usually is and was fast travel on foot.

Cassie Heading Up the Creek


There was a party going up Hollow head as we walked in, Lost in Space looked short, soft and blue, and another party was on Lost chord, so we stopped at Split Finish. This climb is super fun and low stress, the two pitches went fast and smooth and we were back on the ground looking at Lost Chord in a couple hours.

Cassie Rappeling Split Finish


Lost Chord is in Fat. I chose a line out of the active drips and the ice was overall pretty wonderful. Its one long satisfying pitch.

Cassie Rappeling Lost Chord


When we reached the bottom of Lost Chord we still had ample daylight ahead of us and it only made sense to go look at Hollow Head. From the base I could see where the team in the morning had gone up, and the fresh hooks were to tempting to resist.

Things were going smooth and we were set to get out before dark, but an alder rope altercation put us behind schedule.

Cassie and I Topping Out on Hollow Head

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We walked back to the car by head lamp, happy to have filled the day with good climbing.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Morning Recon and Iron Curtain Attempt

I won't lie, I was feeling pretty worked from all the front pointing the day before and was feeling motivated, but not hungry to get after it. Snow was falling softly when Jon and I left the hut with ambitions of looking/climbing on The Nose.

Jon Skiing Past the Miller Mite


There was a couple of inches of wind loaded snow that Jon and I got to fail as we made our way up to the wall. I began to feel uncomfortable being out with reactive snow and no beacon as we approached the biggest slope of snow to the base of the route. The risks vs benefits didn't add up so we enjoyed the views then retreated.


We ended up skiing back to the snow machine then heading up toward Iron Curtain. There was a nice 150ish foot of mellow grade 2ish ice that lead up to where the real climbing began.


It pretty much one pitch of steep ice to the top. The bottom looked great but the top was raining chandeliers and I passed the lead off onto Jon.

Jon Sticking His Head Out the Pitch

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He bailed out of the potential rain shower to investigate the cave and belayed me up. I caused some mayhem with knocking off icicles while he set a v-thread and we bailed back to town. Great Trip out there!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Road to Nowhere

Jon and I spent a pretty leisurely morning in the hut drinking coffee, by 10ish I was getting itchy and the temps were climbing 2 degrees and hour. We headed out the door with our minds on Road to Nowhere.

Conditions were great skiing up the river, then a short boot up the rocky hill, then skis back on then off and a steep boot pack to the base of the route. This is the most deceptive looking ice climb I've ever been on. My theory is the steeper the approach to the base, the less steep a climb will look, but it will feel much steeper always. The first pitch looks easily like a grade 2 solo.

Road to Nowhere


Jon was feeling generous because he's climbed this route many times so he let me have the lead on the first and third pitches. It didn't appear anyone had done the route recently because the ice was as smooth as glass, no features whatsoever for the first 100 feet. I was glad I had my 70m ropes, because pitches up this route were long!

Jon on the Second Pitch


View of the Mitre, Tombstone? Area, and the Miller Mite


It was super fun climbing the whole day out. The pitches had overall high quality ice, and it was thicker on the third pitch than in previous years. We debated climbing the 4th pitch above us, but it looked like 50 feet of snow to about 80 feet of unappealing, rampy climbing. So we called it a good day and bailed.

Jon and I at the Top

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Serenity Falls

The weather report was calling for some warmer temps so Jon and I headed back out to Eklutna to try and do some climbing. When we pulled in to the Serenity Falls hut our friend Zach was just getting ready to leave, we had spotted him and his friend the day before on the glacier, its always fun to run into friends out in the woods.

Since the temps were still below zero we decided to go get some wood and warm the cabin before we left to go climbing.


Serenity Falls looked beautiful from the hut. It was a short approach to some really nice pitches. I was surprised at how nice the ice was despite the cold temps and dry conditions.

Iron Curtain on the Left and Serenity Falls on the Right


John Leading the Second Pitch


The climbing went smoothly, as did the descent and we were back to the hut before dark. It was Jon's 35th birthday so I cracked old jokes on him all day then lit a piece of cake on fire for him.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eklutna Glacier Recon

Snow machined back to the end of Eklutna Lake with Jon and Tonya. It was pretty cold out, the wind was wily, and things didn't turn out as planned. Jon and I went for a recon ski up to the Eklutna Glacier.




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All the main climbs are in and looked great.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Failed Ice Skating Attempt on Eklutna Lake

I got all excited about ice skating after I read on the Alaska Ice Climbing forum that Eklutna lake was clear of snow. Apparently though I missed that window because there was a few inches of crust on the lake and they had just opened it to snow machines.


I tried to glide through the crust on my skates but it wasn't really happening! I gave up after about a mile and headed back to the trail, put on my boots and walked back to the car.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Glacier Creek Exploration

Bill and I bailed from Valdez and were soon back under the clear cold skies of the Matanuska valley. I got to stay up at their yurt, which is always fun, AND Betsy made me the most beautiful hat with a pink flower on top. She is so crafty.

The next morning we had a leisure breakfast and headed out on the snow machine to Glacier Creek. There were lots of options for climbing, but we decided to instead do a little exploring up a steep couloir for a closer look at a potential smear.

Bill Starting Up


It was pretty comical when we finally arrived at the base of the smear. Its not often that you get deceived into thinking something is bigger than it looks, the ice at the base of the "pillar" was about 6 inches around. It was hilarious. Maybe some year it will come in a little better.


We enjoyed the view from on top of a skinny little ridge and then headed back down.


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After hiking up a couple thousand feet, I felt pretty fat and old again. We considered our options, and decided that we were satisfied with the day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hung Jury

The lament on being fat and old continues, I was feeling pretty worked when Bill and I woke up. There was at least a foot of fresh snow on the car and more falling from the sky when we left the house.


Hung Jury was the most appealing option to begin the day with. I didn't rosh for the lead, my self preserving excuse was that Bill had never climbed it so he should get the lead.


This is one of the most aesthetic and creepy lines, the bells were huge at the bottom, and remnant of past bells lay in a heap at the bottom of the hill.


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I was pretty soaked and icy by the time I got to the top. It made sense to bail on the rest of day and head back north out of the snow storm.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Keystone Greensteps

Flakes of snow as big as quarters were streaming determinedly down from the sky as Bill and I pulled out of MaKenzie's driveway. In my irrational optimism I hoped that maybe just maybe it was only snowing in town. Hah Ha ha! Our aspirations to go ski 2 hours through a huge avalanche corridor that is Sheep Creek seemed foolish in such a storm.

There was a beautiful line across the Lowe river we walked to, but the only way across was through the water. I'm just not that hard core when there are other less wet options. So back we went to the large parking lot across from the main Keystone climbs.

Green Steps


The only reason I considered Green steps a good option is because I knew Billmier would lead every pitch if I didn't want to. The benefit of climbing with a stronger partner is you always get to climb, but when my confidence is low its easy to pass on the lead. When we got to the base I looked up and saw an easy line with lots of steps and felt like stepping up to mollify my previous days short comings.

True to Valdez style, it wasn't as easy as it looked, plus it felt steeper and longer than it ever has before. Definitely the max of my current lead potential right now. The second pitch was beautiful, wet in places, steep enough to be engaging but not lethal, maybe one of my all time favorite pitches.

Bill Starting the Top of the Fourth Pitch


Snow Covered!


Bill Rappeling into the White

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A great day out full of flaming calves and burning biceps. Its so much more satisfying retrospectively to have lead pitches that are hard for me. I'm glad I stepped out there.