Uncompahgre Peak Ski Descent

After last month’s unsuccessful attempt, Carl, Marc, Eric, Rob, and myself again made the painfully long drive to Lake City to give Uncompahgre another go; a photo posted by climbers who were up the weekend before showed that our one point of concern was no longer an issue. After much deliberation on the drive down, we got started up the road at 2:30am. Unfortunately, our nice smooth skintrack had been wrecked by snowshoers, requiring a bit more effort on the approach. A little over two hours later, we were back at the summer trailhead and took a break to regroup and eat. Before 6am we gained the climber’s-right side of the gully, climbing up the (now bare) spot we dropped in to it last time. This was the first indication of how much had melted since we were here last. I saw some runnels adjacent to our trail, but it was hard to tell the extent of them – later in the day, we saw that it was quite significant. We stopped here briefly before pushing on.

Photo by Carl Dowdy

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Capitol Peak Ski Descent

Just a few short days ago, Marc, Carl, and I were joyously recovering at Fatbelly Burgers in Carbondale. We were there two weeks prior, but with a more somber mood. Maybe it’s because Carl punched a rabbit in the face, but I think the biggest change was that we had just skied Colorado’s hardest 14er, and didn’t have to go back and take our chances there with snow and the weather (unless of course, we want to for some crazy reason).

I know the biggest question you’ve all got – how in the world did Carl end up punching a rabbit in the face? Well, I’ll tell you. We left Golden mid-afternoon on Friday afternoon and made our way to Glenwood Springs for dinner. Dinner #1 was burritos; Marc and I picked up a set of sandwiches for dinner #2 at camp.

Shortly after 7pm, we were on our way in to the Maroon Bells Wilderness once again.

Photo by Carl Dowdy

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Longs Peak North Face Climb and Ski Descent

I’ve been trying to get a ski descent of Longs done for a while now. A few years ago an attempt was cut way short by logistical errors. In March of 2009, I made the summit but the mountain was bone dry above the top of the trough. A couple weeks ago it looked like conditions would shape up, but wintery conditions through May kept pushing off any attempts. I’ve been talking for over a month about trying to get Longs skied this year and putting out feelers, and a couple weeks ago got word that Kim was interested.
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Skiing Mt. Yale

I’d been wanting to get out for a while. 18 ski days for the season before the end of December, and only 3 of them backcountry – and all on the hut trip. When I saw a vague photo from a condition report on 14ers.com that made it look like Yale went from the top, I started planning. The east face would no doubt have better snow, but from scaling a topo I immediately called it a no-go due to steepness. I decided to take my chances on the standard route up Denny Creek. Hans was going to come along, but couldn’t make it; fortunately, a sizable group from 14ers.com was going the same day. Continue reading

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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A Long Day on Ellingwood and Blanca

After Culebra last Saturday, I thought the misery would be over for a while. It’s turning into spring, I thought. No more bitterly cold, painfully long, 11+ hour days for a while, I thought. We’ll have good, stable, easy to climb snow, I thought. And then this past Saturday happened. After driving for a few hours to the Lake Como road, and an hour of 4-wheeling (which included cutting branches and shoveling snow-drifts that were obstructing the road), we arrived at 10,100′ for a luxurious three and a half hours of sleep, my spot being the front passenger seat. It was not warm, and I was only able to be comfortably warm by wearing a puffy on top of my other clothes inside my 15 degree bag.

The 3:30 wake-up call was not a pleasant one. It was so cold that I abandoned my oatmeal plan, and just shoveled down a PB&J that I didn’t eat for dinner, and downed a bottled Starbucks thing that I grabbed at a gas station the night before. As tends to be the case, getting started in the morning was slow, and an hour later we were walking up the rocky road towards Lake Como.

Another hour and a half later, it was still bitterly cold, although it was finally starting to get light out. Shortly after crossing the lake, we saw a group of five or six approaching for Little Bear.

As seemed to be the case with everything this day, we took an approach line that, while beautiful, was certainly “interesting.” Continue reading

First Ascent Launch Party

As some of you may know, Eddie Bauer is launching a new product line called First Ascent that brings them back to the technical side of things. They’re doing launch parties across the country with the guides involved in the design, all of which are involved with RMI. It was essentially a short (10 minutes perhaps) pitch about the gear, followed by an hour of Q&A with Jim Whittaker, Peter Whittaker, Dave Hahn, and a couple more RMI guides. The gear looks great, though the shells are definitely designed with more of a bent towards climbing than skiing (a little more length would be nice) but otherwise solid-looking equipment at very reasonable prices. It was great talking to a couple of the world’s premier climbing guides about gear and strategery, and I got a photo with Jim Whittaker, first American to summit Everest: