Sunday, January 21, 2018

Archangel Valley Linkup - 1.20.2018

On Monday, I followed Zack down a steep, rocky, and blind couloir on the Pinnacle that I was sure didn't go. When it did, I realized that all five north facing valleys of Archangel could be linked together into one tour by a series of couloirs.

It wasn't hard to convince Brady, Alex, and Neil to forgo good snow and sun at Turnagain to try it. By sunrise we were high above Dogsled Pass and wrapping towards the entrance to Fairangel Valley. Across the way, the Mint peaks were lit up in the morning light.

In the cold morning air, Brady dropped first:

Buttressed by big granite walls, the aesthetic couloirs of Fairangel Valley hold a special place in my heart. Maybe someday conditions will line up to ski the Fair Five in one day.

Photo: Brady Deal

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tokositna Packraft - 9.30.2017

It was 12:30 AM on Saturday and the six of us were bouncing down the Petersville Road. Between wildly swerving around potholes, and cringing as the Subaru scraped over loose cobbles, I kept imaging a very large brown beach ball bouncing down the road in front of us. I was seeing things, why would there be such a thing bouncing just out sight? Just in case, we sped up, and there it was - a brown bear so fat it could barely keep its belly off the ground as it bumbled down the road.

What a way to start the weekend! We camped just past the old townsite, and after shaking the ice off our sleeping bags, were chasing Nathan and Charlie thru the frosty willows and up into the Peters Hills.

At the ridgeline Charlie and Nathan were waiting for us.

We followed the undulating ridge north. Ahead we could see a flock of ptarmigan that had made the mistake of turning white before the snow arrived. Peering into the cloudy peaks in front of Mount Foraker, I kept thinking about the wild trip to Little Switzerland that Amy invited me on years ago.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Bull River - 6.4.2017

After doing Moody Creek the day before, we headed south for the Bull River. Our Saturday hadn't really ended until well into Sunday, so we didn't get an early start. Then a series of confrontations with campground employees further delayed things.

By early afternoon we had parked at the bridge over the Middle Fork Chulitna and were hiking west on the trail.

Looking east, I was drooling over couloirs guarded by rocky spires in the headwaters of the Chulitna and Honolulu Creek.

I don't know how often these lines are actually safe to ski. In such a cold and relatively shallow snowpack, limited further by few observations, its hard to pull the trigger and gamble on that zone. Maybe someday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

RondyBird Backpack - July 2017

Last summer we did a fun weekend thru-hike of Chugach State Park from Crow Pass to Glen Alps. One of the highlights was passing thru less traveled areas along the way. I've been looking forward to going back those places, and have been brainstorming ways to do it.

Arctic to Indian is a Chugach winter classic, but in summer is complicated by miles of bushwhacking and bogs. So, we settled on trying out a summer ridge-line version of Arctic to Indian following Rendezvous Ridge then connecting thru to Bird Ridge. This would pass thru some favorite places from last summer's thru-hike.

After stashing our shuttle at Bird we started Saturday at Hiland Road. Shortly after Hunter Pass we climbed to the ridge.

From there we could look south to the peak group that would take us to Bird Ridge.

As always, ridges take one above it all, bringing better views and less swamp-dogging. This guy was on his way back from climbing Triangle and Calliope:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Moody Creek - 6.3.2017

After a dry winter in the Alaska Range (and everywhere else), spring 2017 brought persistent cool weather to Southcentral. We wanted to get onto the water, but the weather history was tricky for predicting how much water we'd find. Driving north on the Parks Highway, the plan was to make a game-time decision. Passing Honolulu Creek, it had way too much water in it, so we headed for Moody.

We dropped a bike shuttle at the Healy bridge then parked at Dragonfly Creek to begin our customary late start. Following the dry drainage was straightforward and within a mile we were on the clear ridge.

Complete with game trail highways, the ridge was a great way to gain elevation towards the plateau above. Pretty good views southwest into the foothills of the Alaska Range too.

It also had vivid folding rock patterns to check out. The quartz intrusions are neat. Alex for scale: