Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome to Canada, Eh

The patient waiting is over, I am now on my Canadian climbing trip! I flew to Seattle on the 27th and was picked up by my parter Amos at the airport. We then drove to Missoula, MT and stayed the night with my friend Mark before continuing the trip north to Canmore and checking into our accommodations, The Hostel Bear.

On the 28th we got up and decided to climb Whiteman Falls, a classic climb located in Opal Creek, and test the ice.

Whiteman Falls WI6 - by John Giraldo

Amos pulling an ice roof - by John Giraldo

Crazy ice tube - by John Giraldo

Pitch 1 belay - by John Giraldo
Amos topping out on Pitch 2 - by John Giraldo

Today we had a short day and headed out to test the rock at Haffner Creek. Awesome creek action!

Tons of snow - by John Giraldo
Amos on Half a Gronk M5+ - by John Giraldo

Random climbers - by John Giraldo

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mt. Williwaw - West Buttress to NW Ridge 1-21-12

After a ski trip up to Black Lake on the north side of O'Malley last weekend a plan to climb the West Buttress of Williwaw was formed. Using the time it took us to get to Black Lake and guesstimating on how long it would take to hike the slope to the buttress we decided to start the hike in at 3:30AM.

We arrived to the base of the route well before dawn; unfortunately we had no idea where the line would be so we were forced to sit and wait for 1.5 hrs until it got light enough to see. Time seemed to stand still as we brewed up, put any and all insulation material between us and nature and stamped around in circles in an effort to keep some level of warmth. Finally dawn broke and we were off.
Mt. Williwaw at top of valley. At 5,445' it is the tallest peak
in the Chugach Front Range. - by John Giraldo
Headed up the West Buttress - by Eddie Phay

Traversing a ledge near the top of the buttress - by John Giraldo

Sunshine! - by Eddie Phay

Keeping warm - by John Giraldo

Eskimo Eddie with salmon strip - by John Giraldo

From the top of the buttress we followed the NW Ridge to the summit. It is graded at 4/5th class scrambling and required some pretty exposed moves around obstacles on the ridge line. 

-by Eddie Phay

NW Ridge - by John Giraldo

Sharp arete - by Eddie Phay
Eventually we made our way to the summit, tired and wanting to be back to our skis asap. However we still had to descend the mountain by the South Coulior and then wrap all the way back to the NW corner where we had stashed the skis.

Summit view - by Eddie Phay
Reflecting on the day - by Eddie Phay

- by Eddie Phay

Red line shows our loop of Mt. Williwaw
We made it to our skis by dusk and started the painful, seemingly endless trip back out. It was a hard, cold training day, leaving us completely wiped out by the time we made it to the cars.

Trip Stats:
16.5 miles
4,300' elevation gain
17.5 hours

Sunday, January 8, 2012

King's Beard

Headed down to Victor Creek 1-7-12 to attempt King's Beard(WI5+, 60m), a route I had wanted to do last year but it had not been in condition. This year it was as fat as I had ever seen it and after laying siege to it with Josh I finally managed to pull the "air screw" crux and complete the route.
Josh leading first section

Iced up 

King's Beard

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tunnel Section

On Saturday, 12-31-11 partner and I borrowed a snow machine and headed up Placer River overflow to the Tunnel Section to check out the climbs. Following an exciting 12 mile creek fording snow machine trip we made it to the drainage and hiked upstream to our objective, Eatin' Crow(WI6). Technical scary climbing ensued in which my skills as belayer were utilized, and tired but happy we turned around and began the dark ride back out. After cratering the sled in the water on the last creek crossing, a feat that successfully soaked and thrashed both of us, I managed to make it back to the highway miles from my truck necessitating a late night hitch hike ride. All in all a full value day bringing 2011 to a close!

If you happen on a bunch of extra time, check out Eddies clip, I can't figure out how to embed Vimeo videos so until then here's the link:

Eddie stemming thru the crux

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ptarmigan Windstorm

On December 10th, Eddie and I set out for Ptarmigan with a dihedral in mind that we had  spotted a few weeks prior. It starts at the top of a classic 2 pitch M7 route called Mixed Inhibitions that we had been on a few times previously.

However, to save some time we decided to avoid the first two pitches by gaining elevation up the S-coulior and then traversing back to the right on a rock/snow ramp which led us to the top of the dihedral. By the time we rappelled down the dihedral and pulled the ropes the wind had heavily picked up loading the snow slopes with spindrift. As we started the pitch a huge avalanche swept down the coulior two pitched below. Not wanted to rappel downhill from our packs we decided to commit to climbing out.

Eddie fought through the gales and soon enough the M6 dihedral was dispatched. This only marked the beginnings of our adventure though as the descent coulior was highly unstable. In the dwindling light we hurried down hugging the rock wall for safety while being blinded by winds up to 60mph. I paid dearly for my decision not to pack goggles as I blindly stumbled down doing my best to keep moving. Eddie was kind enough to lead the way - getting knocked off his feet several times by smaller avalanches.

Eventually we made it back to our skis where we were able to find some shelter to eat ane warm ourselves and then we began our 4 mile return in the dark down an exceptionally icy power line pass trail. Using our bodies as sails we were able to quickly cover the distance and finally made it to the cars.

P.S. - I didn't take any photos but Eddie had his helmet cam on....check it out! He actually caught the second avy on tape!