We got there easy enough: 7 hours to our base camp at Blue Eyed Lake through devils club, cow parsnip and fireweed that towered over the head, muddy steep alder tunnels and up and down 2000' of scree and snow to a secluded lake where we got some much needed sleep. Then up and over Inferno Pass which lies tucked into the shadow of Devils Mistress, down the West Fork of the Eklutna, curling around to a final glacier headwall full of crevasses that we kept punching though, up a steep loose rock gully that shed torso size boulders with little effort, and up steep scree until we were finally standing on a platform looking at a buttress of rock that was not going to let us easily pass. ( Read more... )
I was intrigued by the north side of the Wrangell mountains after a short visit in the fall and wanted to explore the land closer to the mountains. With help from Evan Olson, Lead Backcountry Ranger for Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve, who gave me details on a traverse he did in 2012 I began mapping out a route that more or less followed Evan's route. The route essentially traces a line that goes up and over Mt Gordon, down to Jacksina Creek and then up into the headwaters of Tumble Creek until finally we would climb a pass that would deposit us at the headwaters of the Copper river where our pilot would pick us up on gravel bars near the Copper Glacier. In total the distance was about 60 miles with a gain and loss of about 10,000' along the way. ( Read more... )
Suicide Tour! From the Indian trailhead up Powerline trail to the east slopes of Homicide. Across to the base of the NE couloir of North Suicide. Up the NE couloir to the top of North Suicide, down to Windy Gap, up South Suicide, down Falls Creek and a hitchhike down the Seward highway.
Steep snow, some rock, lots of choss and lots of scree slogging. ( Read more... )
10 hours before the party and 24 hours before the doctor, Todd and I were walking up a valley with skis and boots strapped to our backs. We walked 5 miles before we transitioned to skis and even then we only got to ski at most 2 miles before transitioning back to boots. We were at the top of the run around noon and collapsed in the 70-degree sun. The snow on southern aspects had already gone completely isothermal and Anchorage lay covered in a thick coat of Chinese smog. ( Read more... )
It was the winter of '98 and I had already been in Alaska for two years when I finally decided it was time to learn to ski. I bought skis, boots, bindings - the whole package - and I started the weekend pilgrimage to Turnagain Pass. 15+ years ago the Pass was a different place. There were all of 30 skiers who frequented the place and everyone knew everyone. I started showing up and within a few weeks the long time cadre of local skiers took me under their collective wings. ( Read more... )
The gift was causing me to slip away. Bob had given us a look into the life of a dreamer who had abandoned all to live in the present. This is the life he was offering - a life outside of the dull realities of work, taxes, family and debt. A life where the days blend into one, where the only reality is the present and the voices calling out from your past are bottled, buried and forgotten. A life alone where the realm of caring is pushed into a forgotten zone and the only thing that matters is the next sunny spell when you can escape into the mountains, your passion inching upwards while tethered to the earth with a thin rope... ( Read more... )
Ptarmigan North Couloir. Photo by Eric Parsons.
Sunday was one of those perfect days ... ( Read more... )
A few seconds later he rolled out of view and I slid into the couloir so I could spot; not 2 seconds later I heard the deep whumpf of collapsing snow. Instantly alert, I looked down to see a powder cloud shooting out into the valley... ( Read more... )
...Beyond The Man's hat 1200' of rock intruded into the dawn sky. The sun was just beginning to rise and the east face turning blood red and we lay in the dirt and watched the shadows drip... ( Read more... )
"Anchorage is great," they say. "It's only 20 minutes from Alaska." By they I mean the red state rural minority who believe in the Three Ps: the Permanent Fund, Providence and Palin. As much as I hate the saying they have a point. 20 minutes from Spenard, strip clubs and Sams Club you can hit the park and head east for 400 miles before you hit another road. And most of the year I manage to get out of Anchorage and enjoy Alaska on a regular basis, but the fall is different. Fall in Anchorage means foul weather; freezing rain, sun and snow all in the same week. ( Read more... )