Friday, December 28, 2012

Eklutna Canyon with the Ladies

Awesome day out in Eklutna canyon with Merrick and Caitlin.  TJ Swann was in huge and the line up the front was a pumpy warm up.  

Caitlin on TJ Swann

I usually don't feel like a mother hen, but going out with Merrick who is 35 weeks pregnant and still wants to get after it was a little nerve wracking...She definitely was toned down from normal, but the NICU nurse in me was nothing but paranoid!

The Amazing Pregnant Merrick 
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Oh My How You've Grown

Temps were cool, with a distinct frosty white line where the valley below was frigid, and above that line, less frigid. Climbing in cold temps requires the ability to keep moving, whether walking between pitches, huge belay ledges or soloing, I'm just not as tough as I used to be.
Bill and I stopped by to meet the neighbors instead of the usual incognito blend into the trees approach.

Eagle River Valley

The ice was fat and thick, completely different than earlier this season.

Me on the first pitch
Thanks to Bill for taking pictures

All the pitches were in huge, and barely a patch of snow between.  My calves felt like they were going to explode front pointing up a thousand feet of low angle ice.

 I won the rosh for the only pitch we roped up for, and chose a soft wet line that was super fun.

 More pitches

It was nice to make it to the top of the route while it was still light.  I think that I finally found the "easy" walk off.  I feel fortunate that we got to do this route so late into the season, the lack of snow this year is awesome for the climbing.

The Descent

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Eklutna Canyon

There is a sketchy log crossing Eklutna River, I didn't like the way it looked but Bill had already walked across and it was solid. I made it with no wet feet, but didn't really enjoy it.

I've never done the dry tool routes at the end of the canyon and have always wanted to. I got so flash pumped it was pathetic. Dry tooling is super hard. I was only half way up and already had hung on 2 bolts. I came down to let Bill have a go, I'd like to try again with a little better style.

Poor Ryan had to belay me, then Bill, but he was a pretty good sport.  Too bad he tore off a crucial hook at the bottom....maybe it won't be easier next time.

This route is really well bolted but I just couldn't get my gumption up to keep going.

Bill cruised the bottom section but didn't make the top section look very easy,  when I did it on top rope I totally felt vindicated for bailing off the route.

Bill's Turn 

I tried the butt scoot method on the way back, it was a little technical and not very graceful but I made it across without wet feet.

We climbed Mad Dog on the way out and it felt so easy with all the enormous hooks and icy ledges for my feet.   If there is one good thing about dry tooling its that it makes regular ice climbing feel so much more secure.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caribou Creek on Ice Steroids

Its been a cold, cold, winter.  I knew the climbs would be huge in Caribou creek but have suffered enough hypothermia back there for a lifetime and refuse to climb there if its below zero.  Luckily temps in anchorage warmed up to a balmy 25 degrees and Billmier was fresh and motivated.

There was only a dusting of snow on the river, and it froze wide and smoothe.  Travel was awesome, a bike with studded tires would have been awesome!  Lots of ice up river, I felt like a kid on Christmas with a new present around every corner.

A couple miles back...


I'm not sure what these routes are called, a picture on the Alaska iceclimbing website shows a pic of the climb on the right in my pic and it had two names, STD and Life after the graveyard.  I have never seen these routes come in this big.  We ended up climbing the left hand route to the top of the canyon.

Thank you Santa

Even though Bill and I were both pretty captivated by the potential that we had already passed we decided to go to the end of the canyon to assess the whole situation.

The landslide that had constricted the river last year was completely washed away, and above the river 3 beautiful new routes.

The Trifecta: New Double Take area

 Cantellya was beautiful, not as big as usual, and no left hand flow this year, but still plenty of ice.  Robopick looked great, but the route at the very end, Thag-o-mizer was enormous.  Again, I've never seen this route this huge before...
 Big routes at the end of the canyon

So much to do with only 4 hours of daylight left!!  We went back to the STD/graveyard area mostly because the opportunity to climb something rarely formed and new was to hard to pass up.
 The first pitch was awesome climbing, super fun, and steaper than it looked, Bill lead in fine style.

It took me about 30 seconds of deliberation to pass the lead of the next pitch to Bill.  It was super thin and scary looking...and that was before I saw the undercut bare rock section.  I couldn't see what Bill was doing, but he was going up and down in 5 foot increments....I really understood when it came my turn to hall my ass over overhanging undercut.
I wish I could have got a picture that did it justice, but the light was fading and I was rappelling.

Bill and I at the Top


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Slide Show of all the other climbs!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Cold temps and the need for possible sun exposure made heading to Indecision my top choice. Kellie didn't realize it was a multi pitch route till it was to late.

I really sucked at taking pictures today. The first pitch was great, mostly solid and pretty high quality ice for such cold temps.

Kellie Expressing her joy of ice climbing

The upper pitches
We did the route in four pitches and made it down before the end of civil twilight.

This is the only picture I took of the whole route

Frozen hair and frozen breath, once the sun went down it got really cold!
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Monday, November 26, 2012

A Quick Trip to Mad Dog

I've been hoping for years to turn Kellie into an ice climber, this season she has come out more times that all the years I've known her combined. We did a quick top rope session on Mad Dog, I'd much rather come here than go to the gym.

Kellie Rappelling down a very picked out Mad Dog.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Climbing with the Girls, and Ryan

Ryan had the day off, Kellie wanted to go climbing, I happened to talk to Raina for the first time in months, and Joni had a babysitter. I was amazed that we all managed to meet at my house and by 10 and went ice climbing. Ryan drove his mini van with us gaggle of girls. It was a day full of laughs for sure.

At base of the approach pitches

I wanted to lead the right pitch since I got to lead left the week before. It was nice, not as soft as it looked, but decent.
There are very few places that I want to go ice climbing at with more than 3 people, but this place is perfect.  Super fun day out with good friends.

Kellie enjoying the short window of sun.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Hillside Pillars

Awesome day out to the Hillside Pillars. The lack of snow made the approach straight forward and easy.

Kellie almost to the base of the pillars.

The left line looked more aesthetic to me, a grey little wisp of ice, but protectable. Typical early season rock chimmney top out.

 Kellie on the left Pillar

Its rare to see the sun ice climbing in mid November, but Kellie and I savored the 30 minute window it hit us.
Heading Down
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Early Season Ice in Eagle River

Every time I come out here I get lost and so every time I remember the lost part, not the right way to go. This route is easily hidden and easily found, but no matter the obstacles its always worth it.  Ryan, Tonya and I started out and then Jon and Sue surprised us by coming out.

The first pitch was thin in places, open in others and in general early season conditions. I opted to use a rope and lead the pitch, super easy climbing, but interesting to see the water running through the clear ice.

Pitch One

There was literally just a dusting of snow and the gully up for the most part was frozen solid, definitely more interesting climbing than usual.

Tanya going up one of many small steps.

 The one big pitch on this route had a lot of ice on it, but also a lot of open sections and a scary looking top out.  No one was really feeling up to this being their first lead of the we with little pride set a top rope on it, and it was awesome!

There was no point in continuing up and there was an awesome walk off just to the right of the climb that a local showed us.  A short and gentle alder adventure led us back to the neighborhood.

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