Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eklutna Hunger

 A little video about my recent trip in Alaska. You can probably guess the highlights and low lights.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Messing about on Glaciers...

Just back from a 18-day Eklunta Glacier traverse in the Chugach Range of Alaska. But before I get into that. Here's some random pictures and video from messing about on the roadside glaciers of Alaska. While the state is deprived of decent roadside rock climbing (perhaps the state of Ohio even surpasses?), the tourist trapping roadside attractions of glaciers does offer good recreation for the mountain enthusiast.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Neacola Mountain Reflections

First of all I would like to give my extreme gratitude to fellow expedition members and tent mates- Chris Marshall and Patrick Graham. Together we complimented each others strengths and compensated for each others weaknesses. To be humbled by such a drastic landscape and share it with comrades will be a truly memorable experience. Thanks fellas.
And I'd like to thank the American Alpine Club for the support via the "Live Your Dream Grant." It was an honor to receive the grant among fierce competition. In addition to the financial contribution, it gave inspiration when needed the most. 

A more quantitative trip report will come later in the summer as we prepare for submittal to the American Alpine Club Journal. The following is to share a sense of place geographically and to share the pulse of our expedition.

Another big thanks should go out to Brian, who let us borrow this car, gave us grease to burn (bio-diesel) and stay at his digs! We certainly maxed the weight load but she performed like a champ. Photo by Chris Marshall

Flying in a small “Bush Hawk” from Kenai, Alaska we (in a matter of a few miles) leave the scars of human reach. The scattered oil platforms in the Cook Inlet will be the last signs we see for 16 days. The estuary zones mark unusual distribution patterns, struggling to release it's heavy sediment loads into the sea. Quickly the Neacola Mountains uplift, the still brown colors of Willow and Alder giving way to white of snow and glacier contrasted heavily against the exposed granitic extrusions. The roar of the single prop aircraft strangely tranquil over this remote and majestic landscape.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Neacola Mountains, AK- With Flare...

 A more reflective and literary trip report coming soon. But this just seemed like more fun...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rites of Spring

 This morning summer began for me. Yes, there is still snow on the ground, Yes it is snowing now, and yes, I'm packing to spend the next 6 weeks on glaciers. But, today it began.Short of spring equinox I'm not sure of what the official qualifications of winters end and summers beginning is. It seems like sort of a personal affair. To some when the first flowers pop up from the ground, leaves on trees, for others the onset of baseball season, and others the transition of wardrobe. For me it is the annual chore of applying the summer wax on the ski family. The practical purpose is to prevent the bases from drying out. But really, it's an act of closure. A little thin coat of love, spread around with a smoking iron. Thanking each pair for a good season. Checking the gouges and scratches, some bring memories, others come with a surprise. It's an act of becoming in tune (pun intended) with the catalyst between body and snow. In a seasonal transition that comes with such dramatic ebbs and flows, this act give clear definition. Well, mostly clear definition as one pair of skis come with me to Alaska next week....

The ebbs and flows have been perhaps on the abnormal side of dramatic these past weeks. Large snowfalls have produced the best skiing of the winter for Colorado. Calm winds leaving a plastered alpine playground. Below are images of this change.

The fleet getting some good sun before going into dark and dusty storage for the summer.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Remembering Rick

Last Saturday the world lost a good one. Rick Gaukel and 5 others were caught in an avalanche on Loveland Pass in Colorado, only 1 survived. They were gathered to raise awareness for backcountry safety and to benefit the Colorado Avalanche Center. The incident was the most fatal avalanche in 50-years for Colorado. Rick was a fellow snow enthusiast, educator, and guide. He was paving the pathway to change the American Mountain Guides Association guide tracks to be more applicable for snowboarders. While those avenues not yet open, he did all the ski skills on his split-board, split, quite an achievement. But more importantly he was passionate and loyal with a good head. He found the balance between being serious yet able to laugh at the seriousness of it all. His laugh was contagious. His Bear Lake parking lot high-fives enlightened my days. And the mystery #5 combo meals at El Mexicalli will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Snow Synonyms

It's now commonly thought that the idea of Eskimo's having hundreds of words to describe snow is false. Rather it's the structure of the Aleution languages that allow for a root word to be modified and perceived as a different word. So I'll argue that skiers have more separate root words to describe snow than the Eskimo's.

Napkin chart illustrating snow sub (ski) ratings and associated terms. For complete glossary hang out in the bar of a ski town.