Sunday, April 10, 2011

Valdez to Cordova II

A Honey Badger, a Haul Ox, and a Hedgehog walk into a bar accompanied by an EMT.

Ox and Badger get Irish Car Bombs while Hedgehog proceeds to crush beer after beer. After too many beers Hedgehog orders a round of Baja Fogs. Honey Badger passes out on the bar. Eventually the EMT leaves. Ox and Hog continue to slay beers. Bar Maid calls a taxi and the 3 stinky beasts load up. Ox advises the cabbie to pull over to facilitate a Badger vomit session. The cabbie drops the 3 at the cabin where Badger vomits 3 more times much to the delight of Haul Ox and Hedgehog. Soon after they all pass out in their own filth.

Sorry if you were expecting a punch line, but this is based on a true story. How did our furry woodland friends find themselves in this predicament? Well, let's start at the beginning...

The plan was to ski from Valdez to Cordova starting at Browns Canyon (250'). There would be ample time to set up multiple base camps to attack large ski objectives. From Upper Browns Basin, they would ascend a glacier, cross a small ice-field, and descend the Cordova Glacier to the Rude River. From here it would be an effortless trek to the sea on the frozen river. A quick 2,500' climb followed by a sublime ski descent would bring them to the front door of the Power Creek Cabin. Mother Nature didn't care much for this plan.

Our friends went "Into the Wild" on March 24th with 2 fully loaded sleds with considerably more gear than that archetype of failure, Alexander Supertramp. The sleds were heavy, but the snow was supportable. The beasts' muscles struggled with the new assignment. Progress was steady and the sounds from the road faded. The walls on either side of the creek grew steadily and the 3 soon found themselves in a small canyon. Haul Ox and Hedgehog dropped weight and scouted upriver. Impassable. Honey Badger espied a gully on the looker's right that would go. With saw in hand Badger sent the booter. After 3-4 trips each, the load was shuttled to the top and the sleds rebuilt.

Impassable Chasm the First

After the shuttle, the friends quickly came upon a snow machine trail and progress improved. Honey Badger picked up the smell of a campfire and pushed on to the source: a Valdez High School wilderness survival class. Josh, the instructor, gave the 3 advice regarding the route and other possibilities. Soon after, the team made camp under Meteorite.

The North Ramp of Meteorite (5,000' from Summit to Creek)

The next day witnessed a futile attempt on Meteorite. After about 1,800', the snow became very firm and cramp-ons would be necessary to ascend further.

Turns Low on Meteorite

The team descended quickly to Camp 1, but Ox noticed his binding was amiss. Something about a pin and plate; action was necessary. Back at camp a plan was hatched:

  1. Ox would leave post-haste on a mad dash for the road to beg, borrow, or steal a replacement heal piece

  2. In the morning Honey Badger and Hedgehog would move camp higher up the valley
The Fellowship was broken.

The duo broke camp and trudged further on up the canyon. The 2nd chasm came into view. Hedgehog and Badger dropped weight and scouted ahead. Open water flooded the narrows wall to wall. They would have to pass high on the right side. Bags were removed from the sleds and shuttling commenced. One bag at a time across three gullies. The arduous task was finally completed and who should appear? Ox! Badger and Hog were not impressed with his tales of salmon dinners and beers. However, they were extremely impressed with his suss. Ox had somehow scored a replacement heal piece on his fantastic journey. The reunited team pushed on passing under many fine looking couloirs. Camp was made at dusk. The flats were behind them and team settled in for much needed rest.

But throughout the night, the snows came and they would overstay their welcome...


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