Monday, October 5, 2015

Little Switzerland - April 2015

It was a Friday afternoon in April, I was sitting at my desk, twiddling with a database, and contemplating how my life needed more adventure. A text came in from Amy: we’re bailing on the Whale’s Tail Traverse, want to go to Little Switzerland on Sunday?
The Colony Glacier.

I met Amy once while skiing Turnagain Pass the previous week. I’d never met Susan or Mary. Was this crazy? I had not been paying attention to the Alaska Range weather and needed to ask around. A text came back from Joe: "The snowpack should be fat and stable. Go”
Looking down from the Munchkin.

By Saturday morning I’d decided. After a call to my boss for clearance, I started to pack. Malcolm ran me thru a glacier travel refresher. I stopped by Alex and Robert’s to borrow a few pieces of gear.

Home sweet home.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chitna Pass - September 2015

For Alaska crusher Alex Geilich a good adventure should be scary, painful, or gorgeous.  Ideally, all of the above. When Alex came back delighted with the Chitna Pass backpack, I figured it rated highly on the Geilich Beauty Scale and was immediately intrigued.
Alex sent me a map and I looked at a few pictures; that was enough. A fall Saturday found us sitting at the Pinochle Creek trailhead on an overcast morning. Everyone else in the parking lot had a truck and an ATV trailer. Clearly, this was the right spot. Zach, Khalial, and Andalyn had all done some research, between the four of us the route could be pieced together.

The route was quickly confirmed by plenty of ATVs and mud. From Pinochle Creek a small pass brought us to Hicks Creek.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Kanuti Picture Project

Updated 8.28.2015 - At 1.64 million acres Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge is about the size of Delaware; it provides crucial habitat for bird, mammal, and fish species. Kanuti has no designated trails, campsites, or public use cabins within its boundaries. Its huge and untouched; places like this are why we live here.

If there is enough light to work and enough water to measure, we work in Kanuti nearly every month. Like the Prince William Sound Picture Project, this post is made up of unique and memorable moments that stand out.

I lost my camera last September in Kanuti, this is one of the last pictures I took with it. In July my coworker Jasper found it. I'm looking forward to taking it back up there next month.

The Jack White Range is a subrange of the Brooks Range. That's just about all I could find about these mountains. This sort of unknown makes Alaska special.

Floatplanes bound for Bettles used to land on a straightaway of the Koyukuk River. But then, as they tend to do, the river meandered. A floatplane lake was constructed to replace the lost "airport".

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5, 4, 3, 1 - 5.2.2015

By early May the already shallow low-elevation snowpack was melting out. Higher, there was still snow, but getting there was a challenge. The other issue was the convective showers that had been passing through each afternoon. Had the precip fallen as snow or rain?

We decided to try the Front Range, planning to test snow conditions in the S Coulior before heading for bigger sheltered north facing lines. As we started to climb the S Couloir, snow conditions were not ideal: a thin rain crust underlain by as much as 9 inches of graupel. Maybe it would be better higher? Nope.

Reaching an spatially variable windslab high in the couloir, we called it, skied down, and reassessed.

A corn tour was settled on. So, we headed for Ptarmigan Pass and the southern gulleys of Peak 4. We walked...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sheep Creek Packraft - 6.7.2015

I've wanted to do the Sheep Creek fly-in trip for a while now. But, making it happen has been a challenge. We had planned on doing it the previous weekend, but at the 3 PM the day before the pilot discovered that Crossover Lake was still frozen.

Peering into the Kashwhitna River headwaters.

We spent the rest of the day hemming and hawing between options, eventually deciding on to float from Curry Whistlestop followed by the Redgate section on Willow Creek.

Yay, not frozen!

The next week brought cool temperatures and rain to Southcentral. When Cody landed on Crossover Lake on Friday it was 34 degrees and raining. 
Are we going to fit on that little lake?