Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Exploration

Adventure beckoned. Today was a Thursday Evening Epic Run called, "Thanksgiving Day Exploration." Rob DeVelice established these runs on December 7, 2000. Dr. D has been creating and leading these adventurous outings year round for almost 10 years. Thank you, Rob! Despite the snowy conditions, a small band of intrepid explorers came out on Thanksgiving Day to explore the Turnagain Arm area. Jesse, Rob, Anne and I had fun bushwhacking, talking, slipping and sliding, reminiscing, laughing, and experiencing the joys of Alaska.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ptarmigan Couloir Workout

Adventure beckoned. My friend Todd was back in town and we elected to do something big. The verdict was the Ptarmigan Couloir. A couloir is a narrow gully with a steep gradient in mountainous terrain. Despite recent snowfall and looming bad weather, we decided to adventure out and give the couloir our best effort. Todd and I have been doing backcountry runs and climbs for several years now, so our collaborative judgment is refined and always geared towards making sure we have the opportunity for future climbs and adventures. Today was no exception. With continual analysis and dialogue, we carefully made our way up the steep couloir. Our gear consisted of running shoes and an ice-ax. I wore a helmet for style. We had crampons, but didn't need to use them. Given the the depth and condition of the snow, mountain snowshoes would have been ideal.

Todd and I budgeted 5 hours for the adventure. I could have done without the 8 miles of running in snow, but I guess that is part of the journey. As we made our way farther up the couloir, the angle steepened and the snow deepened to a point that we decided to call it a great day and head back down. We were running low on time and estimated at least another hour to the summit. Despite all the factors, Todd and I made it up 75% of the couloir. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

You are invited to live vicariously through our adventure. Enjoy and be safe :)

During the run back to the trailhead, three bull moose were hanging out. This is an awesome site to see even for Alaskans!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hidden Peak

Adventure beckoned. Yesterday's objective was Hidden Peak, the gnarly peak rising straight up from Hidden Lake. My friend Todd and I briefly discussed climbing Rainbow Peak or Bird Ridge, but he sensed I was in the mood for a run and climb beyond easy. We quickly settled on Hidden Peak. Carl Jung once said, "Man needs difficulties, they are necessary for health." Hidden Peak offers 9 miles of running, hill climbing, scree, steep gullies, rock climbing, route finding, exposure, incredible views, and philosophical contemplation.

The fun began at 4:30 p.m. Todd and Todd picked me up at my house and we set a course for the Glen Alps trailhead. As you can imagine, starting a maximus adventure Saturday night at 4:30 has the potential to create an added adventure element: Darkness. Nevertheless, the three of us adventured out with informed consent.

We arrived safely back to the truck at 10:00 p.m. For some odd reason, I woke up today scraped, exhausted, stiff, foggy, and depleted. I wonder what happened last night? The full answer is hidden within the soul of Hidden Peak. Perhaps my blog followers can deduce a portion of the answer from the photographs!

Hidden Peak can barely been seen in the distance. It is a barbed high point along a jagged ridge in between The Ramp and O'Malley Peak.

Todd 1 and Todd 2. All smiles on a glorious Fall day in Anchorage. I'm glad we went out yesterday, because today (9.26.10), God blessed us with light snowfall. Once the clouds clear, undoubtedly there will be termination dust in the mountains.

The route up Hidden commences with scree and then climbs the somewhat obvious gully in the middle of the picture.

A rocky reflection in Hidden Lake. Hints of what's to come.

Hidden Peak provides two fantastic options: Steep and steeper. We elected for a spicy combination of both.

Fueling up with GU, shot blocks, and energy bars in preparation for fun.

Todd Kasteler leading the way.

Todd engaged in a series of strong climbing moves and no fear.

Todd is safely off the first series of steep rocks and powering his way up the main gully.


Todd from the flatlands making a difficult mountain in Anchorage look easy.

Todd Kasteler. Practising no fear, part II.

I elected to use the cracks to make my way up the rocks. It seemed safer to me.

The sun is beginning to set. The goal is to get to the summit and down off the cliff bands before it gets dark...

I'm posing with Williwaw Lakes and exposure. Almost to the summit! From this position, I can hear the wind howling and rifling through the mountains.

Summit! The views from Hidden are incredible. There are no words or pictures that can remotely do the experience justice. You just have to believe me.

TK, awesome man!

Todd relishing in the elements and sensations of Hidden Peak summit.

The crew.

Time to get off the summit and down before it gets too dark.

Back down safely. The descent proved interesting and fulfilling. Like I said earlier, the full answer is hidden within the soul of Hidden Peak.