Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Favorite Quotes & Epic Adventures

Today is a good day to share some of my favorite quotes and pictures of epic adventures. Feel free to make a strong cup of coffee and contemplate your next move or "summit" in life:

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
~William James

He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.
~William James

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.
~William James

Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~John Ruskin

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world -- the great fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off and the wounds heal ere we are aware.
~John Muir

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
~Edward Abbey

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
~Edmund Hillary

Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance toward the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point. Climb slowly, steadily, enjoying each passing moment; and the view from the summit will serve as a fitting climax for the journey.
~Harold B. Melchart

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
~John Muir

Always do what you are afraid to do.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a lake between sun and moon not too many know about. In the silence between whisper and shout, the space between wonder and doubt. This is a fine place, shining face to face. Those bonfire lights in the mirror of the sky. The space between wonder and why.
~Neil Peart of Rush

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
~Andre Gide

Now, some of my favorite epic adventures and pictures:

The Ramp as seen from the summit of Hidden Peak.

Altimeter reading from the summit of Peeking Mountain.

Winter night ascent of O'Malley Peak.

Bird to Eagle River traverse: Moraine Pass.

Flying high in Palmer, someplace near Mat Peak.

Cranking up Iron Mountain.

The bleak summit of East Twin Peak.

The summit of Eagle Peak! One of the greatest outings in my database.

Another view from Eagle Peak.

Ascending Eagle Peak on route to the hard earned summit.

A winter descent of Temptation Peak.

My friend Charlie signing the summit register of Cantata Peak.

The Bomber Traverse: Hatcher Pass.

The summit of Bold Peak.

Looking down from the summit of Bird Peak.

A winter ascent of Koktoya Peak.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sensation Seeking

Mountains provide the fix for people who crave risky, novel, spiritual, cognitively complex, and stimulating experiences. Thrilling adventure is the genesis of self-fulfillment. The psychological literature (Zuckerman) describes this personality trait as “sensation seeking.” Carl Jung once said, “Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.” Yes, Dr. Jung, you are correct.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Spring Adventure: March 22, 2006

The archives of adventure beckoned. Indulging in reminiscense, I stumbled up a journal entry I made on March 22, 2006. Enjoy!

A Spring Adventure

From the Stuckagain Heights trailhead at 5:00 a.m. with a temperature of 18° F, Todd Kasteler and I began yet another epic adventure. Our goal: The Ridge of Suffering. If the name correctly foreshadowed what would lie ahead, we would indeed have our work cut out. Included in our quest were three mountain peaks over 5,000’: West Tanaina Peak, East Tanaina Peak, and Tikishla Peak. According to the topographic map, this adventure would consist of close to 10,000’ of vertical. Most individuals would probably think twice about attempting such a robust goal in summer, let alone in spring with deep snow. Heck, most individuals would probably not think about it at all, ever. Our gear consisted of snowshoes, trekking poles, crampons, ice-ax, and plenty of Alaskan backcountry clothes and water. However, the list would not be complete without Espresso flavored Hammer Gel! Although it may not be as good as a fresh cup of Kaladi Brothers coffee, it is the next best thing when surrounded in a canyon with mountain walls all around you.

Todd and I plodded through fresh deep snow up the Campbell Creek Canyon. It took us three and a half hours to reach Long Lake, almost an hour longer than usual. A winter storm blew through a few days prior and dropped an unexpected, and frankly, unwelcomed gift of snow, thus making the journey more of a slog rather than run. Snowshoes and trekking poles were a definite plus to have today! As we were nearing Long Lake, Todd and I could see the sun beaming down in the upper portion of the canyon. With an already warm day, it was a sure sign that we would soon be stripping off layers, donning sunglasses, and talking about the likely outcome of sunburn. The blue skies and bright sun were an unexpected, but welcomed gift. You could almost feel the world waking up from its’ deep winter hibernation. At one point my senses must have been on overload because I suddenly exclaimed, “Hey Todd, look, it’s a wolf!” I point across the North Fork of Campbell Creek to what appeared to be a wolf sitting down and watching us slog through the canyon. Todd politely remarked, “I don’t think that is a wolf because if it was, it would be a thousand pound wolf!” We both laughed a bit and continued on our way. Even though there wasn’t a wolf watching us, there did seem to be an abundance of animal and bird tracks all around us. Trying to identify what animal or bird made the tracks in the snow, as well as hypothesize as to what we thought could have been happening at the time made the hours tick away like minutes.

Once Todd and I reached Long Lake, we powered up with some Hammer Gel and Perpetuem. The extra energy would be needed for the climb up the steep and rocky ridge wall. With our summit gear on, Todd took the lead and guided a safe route. As we climbed higher and higher, he frequently checked the conditions of the snow pack and surveyed ahead for any dangerous or avalanche prone areas to avoid. Todd’s mountaineering confidence and alpine tips made me feel very comfortable.

The journey to the saddle between West Tanaina Peak and East Tanaina Peak proved to be much more difficult that we anticipated. The recent heavy snowfall turned what should have been a thirty-minute summit bid, into a three-hour epic struggle. Even with snowshoes, we would post-hole the majority of the way up. At the pinnacle of the saddle between the two 5,000’ peaks, Todd looked west towards West Tanaina Peak and expressed some concern with a technical segment on route to that summit.

In light of this uncertainty, we decided to head east towards the “easier” looking summit of East Tanaina Peak. Picking our way along a rocky, snowy ridge we made it to what appeared to be the summit. However, as we approached closer, it was obvious this was a false summit. Todd and I looked farther east and with some dismay realized the summit of East Tanaina Peak was a bit farther, over progressively more difficult conditions. Setting our packs down and having lunch, we took some pictures and relaxed. It was a gorgeous day to see all the nearby peaks and dream about days to come. After lunch, we set out for the summit. Cranking along and being vigilant on some steep snowy sections, we finally stood on top of the summit! But wait; as we looked again farther east, there was yet another point that seemed higher in elevation. We were standing on false summit number two! Damn! I tried to convince Todd that we were actually on the true summit and that the point farther east that appeared (slightly) higher was really just an illusion. He didn’t buy my argument (well, honestly, neither did I really buy my own argument).

After some discussion of whether or not to continue, we both decided it would be too extensive to reach the “purported” true summit. Our adventure was already nearing six hours long, and sadly enough, we had hardly even chipped away at the Ridge of Suffering! I guess you could say the foreshadowing was correct. We were warned by the Athabaskan Indians long ago who aptly named the ridge for its’ suffering, but did not listen. Given the time, swiftly warming weather, and increased probability of dangerous conditions, the safest thing to do was head for safer ground and call it a great day rather than bad day. As you can imagine, turning away from a summit bid in plain sight was extremely difficult. I am sure this feeling with help fuel our passion the next time we decide to tame the Ridge of Suffering. So, in an attempt to temporarily make ourselves feel better, we made up a name and claimed a successful summit of “Mid-Tanaina Peak.”

The descent went rather smoothly considering Todd’s snowshoes were giving him some trouble coming down and my crampons were designed for running. Next year’s REI dividend will be used to purchase a set of crampons specifically designed for non-technical mountaineering and alpine ascents. I will also consider a pair of mountaineering glasses. Todd had a pair that he let me try on. I was very keen on them because they reduced most visible glare from the snow and sun. The glasses even had side shields for added protection. At one point we tried to glissade down, but the snow was so soft and wet that it made it nearly impossible. Once on solid ground, a few more pulls of Hammer Gel and various snacks prepared us for the travel down the canyon back to our vehicles. My running crampons and ice-ax were replaced with snowshoes and trekking poles. The weather was so delightful that Todd eventually stripped his upper body to nothing but a T-shirt and baseball-cap he recently bought at the store. To help my dry aching sunburned lips smile just a bit, I caressed them with layers of lip balm.

I told Todd that we should run back so that we get a work-out in. I didn’t really think about what I said until Todd later made a comment about this. He thought it was funny/sick because we were already seven hours into a workout! Up until that point, Todd and I slogged up a canyon through deep snow for nine miles and then struggled up and down mountain walls for three hours. What was I thinking; we already got a work-out in! The remaining nine miles down the canyon was pleasant. We reached the vehicles and called the time of our epic spring adventure: 9 hours 14 minutes.

Jason Hlasny
March 22, 2006

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wolverine Peak

Adventure, with a gadget, beckoned. The main objective of my run up and down Wolverine Peak was to experiment with my GPS receiver that my wonderful wife got me for Christmas. My previous navigation consisted of standard orienteering with a map and compass. I can already see the many advantages to using a GPS, with of course, a map and compass in my pack as a backup in case the GPS failed. One can never be too prepared in the Alaskan Backcountry. Standing on the summit of Wolverine Peak I chuckled to myself because my gear today consisted of a Suunto altimeter watch, a GPS receiver, an iPhone, trekking poles, water, and food. The only thing I was missing was my laptop computer to download my route and heart rate monitor! I suppose I could have checked my iPhone to see what restaurants were near the summit, but I couldn't get a proper signal on the 3G network, so I just ate a Clif Bar. Gagets! Maybe one day the Star Trek crew can simply beam me up to the summit from my home. Okay, enough with gadgets, time to look at pictures. The first picture in this collection is taken from the summit of Wolverine Peak.

The views from Wolverine are great. Here you can see Tikishla Peak.

This angle presents a view of Middle Fork Campbell Creek Valley.

Anchorage! I really love living in this great city.

As usual, the wind was blowing quite strong. Wind tends to make for brief stays at the summit.

GoLite and Black Diamond should thank me for the free advertising!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bird Ridge

Adventure beckoned. While not of epic proportions, cranking up Bird Ridge is an excellent way to revitalize the soul. Due to a weather inversion, heavy fog has blanketed Anchorage for 5 straight days. I resided to the fact that my run was probably going to be foggy. However, my luck changed at about 1,000 feet. I busted out of fog and into clear blue skies and bright sun! It felt like a strange and magical world. My eyes begged for polarized lenses, so I quickly donned my sunglasses to avoid further whining. The first picture in this collection is one of my favorite views. From Point 3505, you can see Indianhouse Mountain, South Suicide Peak, North Suicide Peak, and Homicide Peak. What a cast of characters! Later in this post you will meet a few other characters: Avalanche Peak, Nest Peak, Bird Peak, and Penguin Peak.

Another character: Avalanche Peak!

More characters: Nest Peak and Bird Peak!

Another character: Penguin Peak!

You can see the heavy blanket of fog still covering Anchorage. I would rather be here than there!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nest Peak

Another adventure beckoned. My friend Todd was in town so we decided to climb something new, snowy, long, and moderately difficult. Mountain therapy. After contemplating several new Alaskan adventures, we finally decided on Nest Peak. Although only 5,030 feet, this peak starts at sea level and requires sustained effort, perseverance, route finding, and backcountry skills. Todd and I completed the route in 6 hours. Not bad considering we had heavy packs, 12 miles, snow conditions, wind, rocky ridge lines, alder brush, snow flurries, and ice. After leaving ATV trails, the real route commenced. Our plan was to head straight up to the ridge, and hopefully, follow it to the summit of Nest Peak. The first picture is taken at the base of the gully that eventually deposited us on a wonderful spine leading to the ridge-line.

Nest Peak as seen from the ridge-line entry point. This was a glorius site!

Looking back at the ridge-line Todd and I just negotiated. Very fun!

Strong wind and summit mode., I am standing on the summit of Nest Peak.

Todd scoping out the terrain from Nest Peak. Although the clouds obscured the view, we were able to put a few more mountains on our "to do" list.

Nest Peak as seen from an alternative angle.

Cold and windy conditions, but utterly enjoyable!

The paradox of feeling depleted but fulfilled. The power of mountain therapy.