Saturday, March 26, 2011

3 Men and a Hemingway

Update from ol'ALASKA! I talked to Stef today around 1:30, he had just hiked back to Valdez from Brown Creek Glacier,(where he left Bret and Keith) they made it about 3 miles in. After talking to a guy who had been out there, they realized that the original route (coming out Cordova Glacier from rude lake) was going to be impassible due to an icey chunky field. ( I kinda went in and out of service wth Stef ,so after work I listened to his voicemail and am writing this via the voicemail!)

The new plan as of this afternoon is, from Browns Glacier they will meet up with Wortmans Glacier to Woodworth Glacier, then to Tanzuna Glacier meeting with Tanzuna River to the Copper River where they will follow a road to Million $ Bridge< which is 40 miles outside of Cordova. There they will take a taxi maybe? and fly out back to Keiths on April 7. They are doing well, the peaks are amazing, but not covered with very much snow.

The goal now is to figure out a way through the maze! Luckily a handle of whisky and a hemingway are there to help them find there way! good Luck boyz! ............stay tuned for the next update em and ella

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NY Alpine

In the Adirondacks big alpine ski/snowboard mountaineering objectives have around a 3 week window to get them ticked off. The combination of a deep enough snow pack, sunny days with temps in the 40's and night time temps below freezing are the limiting factors that make the window so short. Combine the slim weather window with trying to get time off and have a motivated partner and it is really hard to get things done. One objective that I have wanted to tick for awhile is the North Face of Gothics to the True North Slide. This 1,100 ft. climb is 4.5 miles from the road. Combine this climb with a decent of the True North Slide and you have an objective that is not just good for the East Coast but good anywhere. Luckily Sara was motivated, had the time free and to top it off the weather was supposed to be perfect. Thursday 3/17/11 was go time.

8:00am - Start skinning in. Throw in a few swollen river crossings for good measure.

11:30am - The North Face of Gothics is finally in view

12:00pm - Strap on the crampons, put on harnesses, tie in and start climbing. The huge crown in the background is from a natural slide that probably happened the week before when we got slammed with 30" of snow.

2:00pm - Still climbing due to several factors. One being that both of my crampons came off almost simultaneously while over 100ft out from any pro. After sorting that out we had to take a more wandering line to summit so that you did not have to front point as much.

3:00pm - Sara about 3/4 of the way up the face. We simiclimbed a lot of it but did belay 3 "pitches" where there was steeper ice that you had to front point.

4:00pm - Finally topping out! We did go to the summit and actually rode off right from the true summit. Something that I guess is really rare to be able to do.

5:00pm - What we came to do. RIDE DOWN! This is about 3/4 of the way down the True North Slide.

5:10pm - Almost to the bottom of the True North Slide.

5:30 - After getting back to the trail we switched back to ski mode and started the 4.5 mile skin out.

9:00pm - Finally back to the car! 13 hours on the go. The best long alpine day I have had all year. Certainly the best day ever on the East Coast for me. What a way to celebrate St. Patricks Day. Thanks SG for being so awesome!


Shakespeare & Whittier Glaciers

Everyone has a peak to stalk. For Hubert, it's Mountain Bard. Bard looms high above Portage Lake just west of Whittier. We elected to pay the $12 tunnel toll to start in Whittier instead of crossing Portage Lake. After exiting the tunnel we turned right at the National Forest access signage. The road crosses the tracks and meanders through the thicket. Eventually the plowing ends at a WWII bomb shelter. We geared up and followed the road past another 5 shelters and up a frozen creek to Portage Pass.

Hubert at the Pass
(Portage Glacier and Portage Lake in the Background)

From the pass, Bard towers overhead so we decided on the directisimo up the NE Face. The skinner steepened and the booting was underway. The snow got firm and out came the axe and clamp-ons. The route was fast becoming spicy, cruxy, and generally unfriendly, so we clicked in and schussed down to the Shakespeare Glacier. Plan B was to skin up the glacier and gain a high ridge. Hubert elected to center punch the glacier rather than follow the existing meandering track.

"I would give all my fame for a pot of Fresca"
William Shakespeare, Henry V

We eventually (and uneventfully) gained the ridge between Bard and Shakespeare Shoulder at about 3,000' and the wind was ripping. The ridge looked relatively straight forward but the wind was starting to pick up. After a short deliberation, we pealed the skins and dropped in on the Whittier Glacier.

Looking Down on the Whittier Glacier and Prince William Sound

The Whittier Glacier was very variable, a common theme this year. Eventually we popped out at a play ground in the town of Whittier. After a quick juice box break we began the 3 mile walk back to the other trailhead. A 20 mph headwind made the walk a bit of slog, but it went quick.

Mountain Maynard between Whittier and Portage

Hubert didn't summit his peak, but he didn't get a restraining order either. Armed with critical personal information, the stalker will increase the lurking over the next few weeks in an attempt to persuade his victim to yield to his prowess.

- George Hardy