Denali Ski Expedition – Spring 2014

This is the story of my trip to climb and ski Denali in the spring of 2014. Continue reading

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Two Weeks in Alaska

This trip was a long time coming. Though discussions started last autumn, things were cemented on this fateful night when Hans convinced me to join him (Lauren assisted) on a 12-day mountaineering course with AMS. Six months (and a plane ride, and 6 hours in the Ted Stevens International Airport and a 3-hour shuttle) later, we were dropped off at the Talkeetna Hostel, where we would be spending a night before flying out to the Pika glacier.

After dropping off our stuff, Hans and I struck out to check out the town (he’d been here before, I hadn’t).

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Birthday Camping and Wheeling

Alright, finally back up and running here. These photos are from a 4-wheeling trip to Chinaman Gulch taken last weekend, which coincided with my birthday. I was the designated photog, and did no driving.

After getting home from work, I threw everything in the car, went to Nate’s, and we hit the road for Buena Vista. It was cloudy and rainy on the way up, which made for a spectacular view from just outside of town.

After meeting up, heading to the trail, and setting up camp, it was decided that we should check out the start of the trail before it got dark.

The sunset in the mountains is always beautiful.

Nate’s Stock Cherokee had to use more caution than a built rig would, but made it through without much trouble.


After dinner, we decided to go try the trail. Matt’s built up ’80’s 4Runner had an easier time with things.

Easy cruising for the built-up truck through here.

Until…

Matt decided to have a near-life experience!

Ok, now what?

It was a pretty tight spot, small cliff on one side and heavily vegetated dropoff on the other.

An hour and a half later the system was in place to right the truck. No photos of the actual righting as I was involved.

Yes!


At that point we decided it would be better to head back to camp and try it in the morning.

The end of the Carnage trail (reportedly the second hardest in the state) was right by the start of the Chinaman Gulch trail, so we wandered over and checked it out.

Who could possibly look at this and think “I can drive up that?”

Insanity.

Back to the trail.

And a couple scenic shots.



Matt’s little brother gave it a shot.

This pose looks familiar.
Stock Cherokee!

Looks like the built 4Runner might have a hard time here.

No match for the Stock Cherokee though!

Scout was having a blast, although the heat and the sun started getting to her.

And another scenic.

Almost there…

…and stuck.

Stock Cherokee to the rescue! Note that the Stock Cherokee made it over that obstacle without issue.

Back to camp just in time to catch some showers. Scout took refuge from the sun under Matt’s truck.

All in all, a very fun trip. Until next time…

Second Annual 14er on the 4th!

Last year was Mt. Democrat, a pretty easy hike. This year was Mt. Sherman, which is similarly easy (if not easier). It was chosen for the sake of a girl who bailed at the last minute. Next year we’ll be forced to move on to more difficult ones, which is fine by me. This was about as leisurely a hike as is possible; I felt no effects from thin air (including breathing hard), which has never happened before. This is mind boggling as we were all up pretty late enjoying the camp fire. Anyway, on to the pictures.

We left Denver about 4:30 on Friday, which was a terrible idea. I-70 was a parking lot. A few hours later we grabbed dinner in Leadville, and eventually found the road to the trailhead. It was getting late, but there was plenty of light left for setting up the tent, and taking a couple photos.

The weather was great that night. Cool, but not cold. The company around the campfire was great, of course.

We were up at the crack of 8:30 the next morning and got a super-alpine start around 9:45, just in time to catch several people on their way down the mountain. Here’s the motley crew heading off.

As usual, the alpine meadow was beautiful. It was extra green thanks to all the moisture we’ve gotten this spring.

As we got up to the ridge, the dogs found a few snow patches to play in. Dogs don’t get enough credit on the intelligence side. They love snow as much as I do, and there’s got to be something going on there.

This one is from the summit ridge. Not sure of the elevation, probably somewhere around 13,500′.
An hour and a half of leisurely hiking and we were on top. Someone had taped a miniature American flag to the summit post.
Nate neglected to bring a jacket, and it was cold and windy on top, so Andrew and Katy helped him keep warm.

It felt amazing up there, like standing inside a windy refrigerator. Most other people up there didn’t appreciate it the way I did. After hanging out on top for a while, some rain showed up on nearby mountaintops, so I decided it was time to go. I stashed my camera and moved, so no pictures were taken until I got back to the sunny meadow. There was a stream we crossed at the very beginning, and Scout and I were a ways ahead of the group when we got there, so we decided to soak our feet in the ice cold snow runoff.

I could’ve hung out here all day. Great view, cold stream (20 degrees warmer would’ve been nice, to be honest), and the sounds of nature added up for a serene break spot.


The rest of the folks showed up a few minutes later, and we walked a couple more minutes to the cars, where Nate and Matt had been waiting after practically running down the mountain. We went back to camp, and celebrated with beer, burgers, and hot dogs. Matt had 5, it was ridiculous.

Scout was absolutely exhausted. I put a bowl of food in front of her and she just dipped her head in and nibbled. She’s just
now starting to get back to full energy. I don’t know where I’ll take her next, but I’m sure she’ll be similarly worn out.

All in all, a great couple days. I’ve got a couple big days planned, just not sure when those will happen. Tenmile Traverse anyone?

Mt. Massive – July 26, 2008

8 miles RT, approx. 3,950′ of elevation gain. Just under six hours camp to camp.

Last weekend, it was decided to head up outside of Leadville, camp a night, then hike Mt. Massive in the morning. It was Nate’s turn to drive, so he picked me up from work and we took off for the mountains.

It was pouring rain most of the way up (which is all good and well, but it still hasn’t rained in Denver all summer), leading to some concern that we’d be miserable setting up camp, having dinner, etc. Fortunately it stopped as we got there, and it was nice and cool. As we got to the trailhead, an unnecessary river crossing was made, twice. The water was up to the bottom of the doors on Nate’s Cherokee. On to the pictures:

Scout hanging out while we set up camp.

The main beverage for the evening:

The view from camp:
Andrew getting dinner going:
Andrew drinking, Nate screwing around with the fire:
Andrew enjoying a Backwoods:
On to the morning. There were Columbines everywhere – more here in one day than I’d ever seen combined.
Marmots:

Not marmots:

Another marmot, captured with my new lens:


Not a bad view.

Summit.
After hanging out and eating Doritos on the summit for half an hour or so, we headed back down, grilled up a few more burgers, and took off.