Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Denali Expedition May 29, 2012

My home for the Last 10 years other than the Van.
A summit shot from the top of rainier on may 27th Summit Climb with RMI  .
Denali the High One!
 This made for my 14th expedition to Denali. The trip was run through Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. with a super crew of guides Erick Frank and young gun Logan Randolph. The group was a wonderful group of gentlemen from throughout the US and two kind Canadians from Quebec and New Brunswick.
The trips on Denali always starts well before the go date, compiling a mountain of gear, goose feathers, and lunch food for 20 days, one hundred pounds in the duffels,  plus a carry on with twenty-five pounds. Not sure how I'll get it up but here we go.  I departed on a midday flight to AK, landing in Anchorage, meeting the guide boys and enjoying a pizza. We meet the crew around 4 and pack the 11man Team in a Denali overland shuttle and depart North toward Wasilla for a last minuet food shop before arriving in the quant drinking village of Talkeetna. A day of packing, prepping, and rigging for our flight from K2 Avation Otter Ski Plane. The Timing and weather were on for us we got our park briefing and departed with our kit on time and arrive to the glaciers of Denali by 10:30 am on the 31st of May. The trip is Now up to us and our mountain skills; to safely climb and descend in good style.

Part of the Denali 12' Crew 

As the snow settled from  the prop wash of or departing air craft we organized to head out in the afternoon as the temp were cool and the glacier still firm and supportive. Our pack up and departure from base camp were flawless. The only thing not working was the wight of close to 110lbs each dragging us up to 7,800ft. Five hours of walking and two hours of camp set up and we were already functioning as a cohesive team.

Living in Luxury 7,800

Nice view from our porch at 11camp
 The fallowing days we took carry to ten thousand feet had a great recovery day and then moved our camp to eleven thousand camp and set up for another round of carry, rest, move. The seventh day of our trip we moved to 14 camp and set up a deluxe camp, kitchen, and restroom as a handful of days would be used acclimatizing and prepping high camp and resting for our summit push. A number of snow filled days at 14 camp started to get us antsy to climb higher and after 7 nights spent in 14 camp we got our break in the weather and moved to hight camp having the benefit of brent's group leaving some equipment and tent for us which lightened our load and the work once we arrived at camp.

Eric Frank showing that puppy how we dance. My that is a nice top hat you have.

The crew actively resting on a jane to the edge of the world in Genet Basin 20 min from 14 camp.

Our dig out at 14 with Big Denali in the mist 
 The next morning we had moderate winds and chilly temps but beautiful blue skies. The crew was in great shape summit day morning the 16th day of the trip. We started our summit clim at 9:45am breaking trail up to Denali pass. The wind was pesky throughout the day and temp remained near -20. We all made extra effort to keep our faces and eye wear in functioning order. We had just a wonderful day topping north america out at 5:15 pm on june 15th. After 35min enjoying and snaping photos on the summit we descended in evening light still battling with the wind and the nip in the air. The decent of denali pass provide light wind and warm solar charge for out final hour of climbing back to high camp.
Fast forward I had a lot on my mind and now were at the Summit Ridge on a blue bird day.

Summit #9 Denali

Our bad boys. The 2012 crew

My Man Larry and I holding the vintage cigar from Ben Alverez. Cheers From Us!

Oh what a cutie little boy Its Logan Randolph On his first trip to the top of NA Super strong work little brother!

Down the pig hill we go with the proud North summit watching us. 

The crown of North America visited and a safe decent ahead.
  We congratulated each other in camp 11hr after departing all happy and un scathed. We spoke of memories from the day while the guides watched water melt and food cook it self. We were content for the day and drifted of to our bags.
Down the buttress from high camp 

The climb down from high camp got under way after 3 hr effort to excavate the tents and button up the gear. We enjoyed light wind and clear skies on the most picturesque part of the west buttress climb making good time we descended to 14 camp  and are greeted to Jakes's camp which provide a hot snack, water, and our cache dug out and on the surface. Praises JB. Sorting our equipment for the cache we split the group equipment and descend around windy corner to 11k camp just in time for heavy snow to start falling and the wind to rage for the better part of the next 18hrs keeping us in a holding pattern until a break in the afternoon saw us packing for the final five hour stretch to base camp.

Snow storm layover at 11camp on the decent allowed us to enjoy some pancakes, just like my grandpa made them.

Back to the other world....
 Upon our arrival to base camp the guide dug up the cache and retrieved the salty snacks and Beers we left upon our arrival tot the glacier. We celebrated and had a late dinner sitting in the snow. As we chatted the reality of what we accomplished started to set in knowing we were all done but the flying. The best part is always flying out to the shades of green and the contrast that the mountains gray and white don't express.
The experiences in the Alaska Range never get old and Ill be back again next spring. 

In Talkeetna we unpack and dry the kit before heading for a pizza fest for lunch and then some down time to shower contact the family and eat more. The Crew reunited for a final celebration dinner at Denali Brewing Co fallowed by a unforgettable trip to the river in talkeetna for a sunset view of Denali and Certificate presentation. Most importantly we went to the river to reflect, tell stories of our experience, and enjoy each others friendship new and old.

We just could not part each other until after the team drove back to anchorage airport said our final good buys. I would like to thank to each individual on this expedition in was a true pleasure climbing with you all. Hope we can all climb again soon.

Back to Green!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lib cap Part 1 Central Mowich Face

Rainier, Jake Beren, a birthday, a ten year itch, and great timing!
I have been working on Mt Rainier for ten years, spent winters living on rainier day dreaming. I first climbed the Central Mowich Face with a friend on my first summit of liberty Cap and my Third summit of columbia crest. In the 10 years since that first north side climb I have been on 28 winter seminars 200 trips 110 summits via 9 routes 9 ski decent and have not been back until now.

Me at 13k above the Disappointment Clever.

The plan, start leisurely in Paradise climb to muir and then up the Disappointment Clever to the summit in 7 hours, cross to Lib Cap summit 8hr, descend on skis down the NW side and fish our way into the central Mowich Face to ski run dreams are made of, ten years of dreams... To finish we traverse around across a few glaciers to the south and linked up with the  Tahoma Creek Trail and fallowed it to the westside road parking area.Trip details: 30km car to car. 10,000ft up 11,000ft down in 13 hours. Tools: Ski Mountaineering glacier day kit.  
Skin to the PIN. phot Jake B

Jakes First turns off the PIN. Tward Liberty Cap.

Photo Jake B  My first turn off the PIN.
The wind tunnel across to Liberty Cap. Phot Jake B.

Jake Cruz'n the Bubble Ice Lib Cap summit 
Senyaee thai food on the lib cap button. Photo Jake B

Jake Catching wind blown powder on the other side. 

Point Success summit with Mt. Adams Behind from the top of the CMF  
Initial pow turns on the face! Stoked  Phot Jake B

Jake, Your Mustache Looks as Big as the  Mowich. Top of Face we are ready 
Fields of Powder and Glory 13,500 top of CMF Photo Jake B

Entering the Main face  Central Mowich Face.

Steep, Hot, Sticky, POW! 
The ski slopes don't get bigger or better than this much of anywhere. Photo Jake B 

What a good day for skiing, Jakes Birthday and pow on 50 degrees  June 27.  photo Jake B

Best snow! In the best place for it !

Jake Over the Rainbow- Central Mowich Face  

Jake under the CMF and the Edmmons Glaicer

One part of the journey to traverse to Tahoma Creek Trail.

Perfict day in the Mountains.

Puyallup Glacier and the Sunset Amphitheater.   

Part of our 11,000 ft slide 

ON the SLIDE. photo Jake B.

Exiting to the Tahoma Creek Trail From Emerald Ridge! 
Jake Beren, a man you can trust. We made a great partnership on this mission.Thanks for the ride!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ski Waddington Region Coast Range, BC

An alpinist and technical ski mountaineer's paradise! The Waddington Range logistics, as Jim Harris, Seth and Solveig Waterfall planned, began by departing May 9th.  I left from The Shack in Ashford, WA to the Waterfalls' house, and drove through the Canadian border 600mi north to Bluff lake, BC. We then had an overnight at the King Family's Ranch B& B.  We hired Dave King's brother Mike King, the heli pilot and owner of White Saddle Air, to fly us in 40mi to the Waddington Massif. We landed in the Rainy Nob zone on the Tiddiman Glacier to explore for 10 days in hopes of splitter weather.  We planned to ski tour the mountains and faces of the Waddington region, then have a heli flight out of the mountains on the 19th. We would then spend an afternoon cleaning up, relaxing over beers, and have a celebration dinner back at the King's ranch.  After that we would be left with the fun part to finish; a 14hr drive back to Washington state having great memories, new learning, and experiences with great friends.

The Wadd... Day one sniff around tour.
All went well on our 14 hr travel up. We slept well after a big meal at the King's and the weather had us flying in, being on the glacier by 9am. Then the first part of the the cookie crumbled. Ten minuets in to the heli flight I looked at Seth with a long face and asked "Did you get the white gas?" Seth Responded with "No..." a few seconds went buy before he burst out with "We are dead without gas." "I know" is all I replied. The next second we asked Mike if he could turn the heli. With 20min extra flight time tacked on to the bill we retrieved the gas from the van in which it lay. 

The landing on the glacier was a great feeling. Sometimes just getting started and into the mountains can be the hardest part. When the rotor wash settled we drug the mountain of equipment and food we brought for the coming weeks a short distance across the Tiddiman glacier.  We set up some very well built tents from First Ascent for the expedition, including the ultimate Kitchen Tent the "Pantheon Dome." Good living! As we started to re-organize the food the second piece of the cookie crumbled. Seth says "where is the $100 bag of meat?" I Respond with "No way! Shit! I put it in the fridge of the van." A few minutes of rage went through Seth, throwing hats, kicking empty food bags, and stomping the snow, as a short meat dance to have it fall out of the sky. As he emerged from the tantrum  we confirmed the cheese did indeed make it on the glacier. If all we are missing is a big bag of meat we're not so bad off, at least we have fuel to cook the cheese with. Note: the whole team is left handed so I suppose we can just blame our forgetfulness on our left-handedness at this point. 
S and S Making the meatless goods in the cook dome.

Seth, Solv, Jim on high speed corn Stiletto Glacier 
Our first afternoon we put the skins on and went on a short stretch of the legs to get a feel for the place and a better idea of the snowpack. The trip was given perfect weather and we launched early the first full day to the Stiletto Couloir and glacier for a five thousand foot reward of corn. We were back hiding from the heat in the mid afternoon and made a plan to try Mt. Waddington from the Tiddiman Glacier  through Combatant col up the Angel Glaicer to the NW summit of Unknown Mountain/ Waddington.
Moon over Bravo Pk.

The Combatant Col.

Not sure exactly Why they call it Angel Glacier? 

Summit Pyramid NW Summit Waddington. 

Solv, Jim, Seth 4,000m 

MAIN Summit Waddington. Not sure the best way up that one?

Post-ski of the angel glacier in powder. Feeling very alive after the ice fall crossing. 

Lost of Ice hanging around! Combatant Col/ Bravo Pk. far left.

The day provided spectacular views, great snow, wonderful weather, and a cast of great friends that love the mountains.  This was one of my best ski tours ever. Waddington is a place as brilliant as Chamonix with no people and no lifts, the true wilderness, just spectacular. A long day and seven thousand feet of gain and descent delivered a rest day with a great breakfast and some good chilling, interspersed with the Canadian air force buzzing our camp as they cruised the mountains performing acrobatics.

The next mission was to climb the east ridge of Munday. We collected memories on two of Munday's summits which has a 2 mile long ice cap summit. We then skied back down the majority of our ascent route again having amazing weather, views, and friends in our presence.    

On the East Ridge of Mt. Munday Massif. Waddington left /Tiddaman right 

Stiletto Glacier from major col in center.
The prize in my opinion was Mt. Grinnell, featuring low objective hazard, north facing skiing, steep, and one amazing summit ridge with 5k of descent. The morning of this objective was a perfect, not one other person except for us exist in the range, cool! We set foot on top in wild swirling clouds that opened for sun breaks. We descended in wonderful light  to the top of the black pyramid where the steep 50 degree skiing begins. The snow began to fall and visibility was poor so we had time to kill and the weather would change eventually.  Given that this was our assessment, we took a picnic for an hour or two. When the weather changed and the sun fully lit the face we were getting paid for our patience. We skied recycled pow and enjoyed the feelings that real steep skiing allows. What an incredible run in the mountains!
Mt. Grinnell. Ski from summit toward camera to dark black Piramid center down left to big open face.

Top of the black pyramid Waddington behind

Summit Ridge Mt Grinnell steep snow climbing!

The team from one summit to another. Mt Grinnell  

Seth on top Mt Grinnell Wadd and Tiddaman Group  

The Big steep Face from the black Pyramid.

Solveig, Recycled pow, and 50 degrees I like It.
What turns out to be the last big tour of our amazing trip to the Waddington Range was Mt. Spearman, a sub summit of Waddington's east side. We put the skins on early as with all the tours on this trip, climbing up the Bravo glacier to the Bravo-Spearman col, then climbed up toward the Spearman summit.
During this trip we had traveled primarily un-roped and done many dozens of crevasse crossings during our stay but one caught us and pulled Seth down. We responded quickly and fished out Seth from 70ft down in the final crack before the summit pyramid! Miraculously, just a sore shoulder and a frazzled mindset resulted from the fall. We salvaged the day with having 98 percent of the climbing done, so we enjoyed a fresh perspective on life skiing corn five thousand feet back to our camp. We decided to take off since we had gotten nine blue bird days in a place known for only having a few nice days a month. This was one of the best expedition ski trips I've been apart of.  Thank you for all the great times S, S, and J.
SSWaterfall. Bravo glaicer route on accent to Mt Spearman.  

Waddington Main Summit from 3,300m on Spearman with S and S.
Happy to be Living!

We got warned, we had enough, and had wonderful corn skiing to our camp.

I think they are in LOVE!

Seth in the Stiletto... Think I'll bring a rock rack next time too.

Laurie and Dave King outfitted us with a brilliant cabin style bed and breakfast, with their amazing home serving as the main lodge for meals and entertainment. Their hospitality is unparalleled.
Mike at white saddle air is the way to get in and out of the wadd and his machinery and piloting skill top notch. Thank you for the ride.

The King's grand B and B

Dave and Lori's Ranch Thanks Guys!

I want to thank First Ascent/ Eddie Bauer for the sponsorship to make this amazing trip in the mountains happen. I want to personally thank Seth, Solveig, Jim, and Caley for this opportunity to join the trip along with a big thanks to, Tom and Mike at beyond Coastal/ Chums as well as Gabe at Smith Sport Optics. Your support helps makes it all happen.