Talkeetnas traverse in the rain with Sherrie . . .

Well, as it turned out, this summer in Alaska was not the nicest on record. But nonetheless, Sherrie and I had high hopes for some wilderness fun in the Talkeetnas . . . our goal was to do Roman Dial's "Independent Sheep" trip, so we had her friend Raphael help us with a car shuttle by dropping us off at the top of Hatcher Pass to start our walk . . .

Sherrie's trip reports are probably better than mine will be . . .

Up Craigie Creek and over Dogsled Pass and over a few more passes to the upper Kashwitna River . . . all in the rain!!!

After a night in our "dry" tent, we were off again the next day, in improved weather, but still sorta dreary . . .
This particular location as we were travelling to and over Stegasaurus Pass was particularly brutal boulder navigation . . . uggh. It's sorta hard to stay in a good mood when slipperly boulders are threatening your well being at every turn, but Sherrie and I did our best :-)

We made it over and were ready for our "easy" drop to the Kashwitna. Too bad it wasn't destined to be that way . . . the upper elevations with nice travel and beautiful lakes were nice, but sooned transitioned to willows . . . and then to alders . . . uggh.

In retrospect, we should have stayed high and dropped down the fall line to the river . . . but we got sucked into the drainage too low (my fault) and found ourselves navegating super steep wet alders with cliffs, saved by things like sketchy sheep trails (that forced us to take our packs off and pass them forward to get through) . . . and eventually popped into the lowlands and on to the river. We set up camp right on the game trail cuz it was the only open area in the area . . . always feels weird (and wrong!) to camp on a game trail, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do . . .

The next day we got on the Kashwitna River . . . the upper section was super fun and festive - class III "big" water . . . we're both moderate packrafters, so this was about the upper eschelon of what Sherrie and I like to paddle . . . it was super fun though, and cool to look back and see the gradient of the river . . .

It slowed down after those first few miles, and we had some decisions to make . . . the climb to get over to Sheep Creek was going to be 1800' uphill through wet alders to another dreary wet rainy pass that was hard to navegate, over to a class IV river that may be at flood stage . . . things were starting to feel like our original idea may not have been the best plan . . .

The only thing I really knew about the Kashwitna was that Roman's blog said that everyone he knew that had tried this trip had bailed down the Kashwitna . . . so we figured it must go, right?!? So, down we went . . .

Just before the confluence with the N Fork, the gradient started to increase, and we made the commitment to scope things before we ran them, and to take a conservative approach to the lower section. Then, we saw humans on the side of the river, so pulled over to say hi (we're super social). They turned out to be the local landowner and his friends, who told us we were stupid and that nobody had ever run the lower Kashwitna and survived. Although we thought there was a good chance it would be fine, his cautions, coupled with an offer to take us out on 4wheelers had us packing our bags and heading for the car with a bunch of drunk strangers . . .

In retrospect, this exit was likely more hazardous than the river would have been, but we made it out okay, and got safely back to the car in a few hours. The only bummer was that, as we were heading out to the highway, Sherrie's car overheated and we found ourselves spending the rest of the night waiting for a towtruck and getting towed back to Anchorage!

Overall, it was an interesting trip, to be sure. The highlight was definitely getting to spend time in the wilderness with Sherrie, which is definitely one of my all-time favorite passtimes. She's so much fun, so tough, and we have a good trip partnership . . . we've been through some challenging times but seem to make the best of them! Thanks Sherrie :-)

June 24: Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic finish!!!

Well, the next time I came home to full-on summer . . . watching my ski season melt away from afar was pretty brutal, but I guess that's life.

So, I came home to a mountain bike in the front range, and then Matt and I flew in his plane up to McKinley village so we could hike in and meet Bobby and his partners for the conclusion of the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic . . .

Bobby and Matt . . .

Chris Robertson and his wife . . . she took a break from studying for medical school boards to come meet him! The parking lot and official finish is in the background . . .

The winners at the finish line, signing the finisher's roster . . . only one other team finished, and it was 3 days later!!!

A happy finisher in clean clothes :-)

The flight home . . . airplane living is a good life :-)

Here's the article from the Daily Newsminer in Fairbanks

Whittier to the Bard N couloir

Skiing out of Whittier and Bard Peak a few days earlier had been so wonderful that I couldn't help but go back! So, I coerced Nick Stadnicky (not a hard sell) to join me to go after a sweet N facing couloir off Bard that I've always had my eye on . . .

Again, the views out of Whittier did not suck, not even a little bit :-)

We skied another (different) sweet line off the first peak . . . line was right in the center to the looker's left of the huge cornice above the arete

And then we skied to the Shakespeare to climb the obvious coolie in the middle

Nick on Bard - hooray! He broke the sketch bootpack, which was awesome!

Umm, yeah.

Back on top of our first peak, ready for 4000' of fun!
Nick enjoying the rewards of the day

One of the best days of the spring for sure!!!  I love that this is all just a tunnel away!

Eagle Peak May 3 - one of the best lines of the season!

Every now and again, the stars align for amazing days, and May 3 was definitely one of those days . . . we assembled a crew of Kathy and Eric the Viking, Galen Johnston, Eben Sargeant, and myself to attempt Eagle Peak . . . we knew it would be a long day and wondered if the alders down low would shut us down, if the couloir would get too warm, etc. but felt like we had to give it a try, so off we went . . .

We had an 8am start from the Eagle River Nature Center and walked up the trail to Echo Bend where we crossed the river.

Eric keeping his feet dry!

Out of the alders, climbing the lower apron of the mountain

It was here that my skins started glopping - lame!!!

From there came the super long marathon bootpack up the big face/couloir, transitioning into the tiny steep couloir and onto the face near the peak . . . that's where it got steep and deep, but the snowpack was solid and gave us the confidence to venture into the new fall line and up to the peak . . .

And then we topped out - what a joyous moment!!!

The skiing was excellent! I was first off the peak, which was super steep and technical - I was really nervous about sluff taking me down the wrong fall line, but that didn't end up being a problem. The turns into the little coolie were techy, and then it was steep jump turns, with the final transition into the wide openness of the main line . . .

In this photo center, you can see the upper couloir, and a skier on the main line . . . big alpine terrain for sure!

Eagle River visible below, great skiing where we're at :-)

At the base of the technical skiing, ready to transition to alder navegating . . . but for now, joyous and celebratory!

There are some classic alder pics out there, but alas! I don't have em ., . . but it was class IV alders for sure! We followed the river out after that, re-uniting with the trail again at Campground Rapids and hiking back out to the car for a 10pm return and the conclusion of our 14 hr day!

Wow, what a great day! Truly one of the best lines I've skied in Alaska and such a classic group to ski it with - a true joy :-)

Skiing outta Whittier with the girls . . . and finally nailing Bard!

Well, May rolled around and I found myself seeking skiing out of Whittier . . . it's not a place I normally ski, but conditions seemed right and the weather was certainly right, so off we went!!!

Jenna on the climb outta town . . . this area tops out for a 4000' run back to the car - awesome!!

Nancy making stylish turns off the summit of our high point . . . not sure what it's called, but it's the peak to the looker's left of Bard, across the Shakespeare Glacier . . . a super fun ski off the top!!! And the ice chunks skied like gates :-)

Jenna incoming
From there, the girls had to bail but I needed some skintrack meditation, so crossed the Shakespeare Glacier over to Bard Peak - I had gotten turned around on the peak earlier in the year and wanted to re-investigate.
I made it to the top of the west face (I guess that's not really the summit, but it was the summit that I was going for) and spent a moment of gratitude before dropping in for a super sweet line overlooking Portage Lake in perfect light and great snow! I was so joyous at being there and loved the ski!
From there, it was back across the Shakespeare, where I decided to hike back up to the plateau and enjoy the long run back to town instead of skiing to Whittier via Portage Pass . . . it was totally worth it, and then I got a ride through the tunnel and back home, no problem!