Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Expedition name: Mantana

Well it's been a while since I've posted, this is due to my free wireless (from somewhere) drying up, snap.

Kevin Volkening (known as K-Bone) and I went up to the Alaska range this spring to climb and get away from the man for a bit. On May 1 we got dropped off beneath Mount Dickey on the Ruth gorge. The setting is mind bending, humbling, and inspiring. As soon as we could we set off for the Root Canal glacier below the Mooses tooth. This entailed winding our way up beneath seracs, over crevases, and around ice gendarmes. It wasn't to bad really, just a bit objectivly dangerous. We set up a small camp on the root canal glacier and waited until morning to climb (when things are a bit more frozen). The next morning Denali was illuminated as the never-quite-setting summer sun drew a crimson face on the cassin ridge. We pitched out the first 3 pitches of the "ham and eggs couloir", then simul-climbed to the crux WI4 pitch, this was climbed via fun and steep water ice. We pitched out the narrows of the couloir over miles of WI3 steps, then simuled the remaining terrain to the summit. We rappeled the route and were back to our tent on the root canal glacier 10 hours after leaving it.

Mooses Tooth

K-Bone rolling the dice en route to the root canal glacier

Cruxing on Ham and eggs

midway up Ham and Eggs, the Mooses tooth

ham and eggs

Kevin nears the Mooses tooth summit

Mooses tooth summit

The Mantana Expedition from Kevin Volkening on Vimeo.

A video Kevin made of "ham ang Eggs"

Other routes in the gorge we wanted to do were not in (shaken not stirred, freezing nut, wake up, snow patrol) so we decided to try and ski the west face/ridge of Mount Dickey. We woke up early and skinned up 747 pass setting off a small wet slide near the crest. We boot packed up the ridge carrying our skis on our packs until the terrain became to icy. We decided to jettison our skis and summit the peak, knowing that skiing the steep ice would be a bit to dangerous for our tastes. We dug a waist deep trench to the summit of Dickey, 5,000' above our tent below. We down climbed to our skis then skied from that point down to our tent over bullet proof ice, sucked.

Mount Dickey west face/ridge

Mount Dickey west face/ridge

We then decided to get a bump flight over to the Kahiltna base camp. Upon arriving it stormed for then next few days while we read and listened to Dane Cook on K-Bones i-pod. Seth Campbell, Dom, and Austin then showed up. We were meeting them to help do Glacier research on the Kahiltna Glacier (they are with U Maine, and University of Alaska- Fairbanks). We pulled sleds to K-pass that were loaded with science equipment, then we got right to digging holes. The research work was exhausting but educational, and I learned a ton. In short we radared from 11,000' camp to the base of ski hill (which has never been done before), and dug many 6 meter deep holes where we did ice core drilling an additional 8 meters.
We were able to go to windy pass (13,500) on Denali and we skied down from there (except for an icy part on squirel hill).

Pulling research sleds on the Kahiltna

Don doing research on K-pass

View of Foraker and the Kahiltna from windy pass

I met up with Jonathan Spitzer and Rachel Greenburg in K-Base and we decided to climb the "bacon and Eggs" couloir on the Mini-Mini Moonflower buttress. It was an amazing 10 pitch route with most of the pitches checking in at WI4. We V-threaded off the route as the afternoon's sun caused sluffs to come crashing down the couloir. A bit nerve racking and annoying as our coats filled with snow.

Looking down from a pitch on the mini-mini moonflower buttress

Jonathan leading on the perfect ice of the mini-mini moonflower buttress

K-bone and I skied off the small peak near K-base called the control towner, then Seth, K-bone, and I tried the Moonflower Buttress. We got up to the Burgshrund at 11 pm but couldn't pass it, it had melted out in the warmth of the last 2 weeks and was impassable to us. We flew out to Talkeetna while later and ate real food. In all K-bone and I were in the Mountains for 33 days.
Upon arriving back in Los Anchorage, my Brother (who lives there) took me bear hunting (no success) and halibut fishing (mixed success, I get sea sick). K-bone and I even were able to catch a live State Radio show at the Beartooth theatre in Anchorage with his soon-to-be fiance. A great trip. Cheers, Loren

the pipe line, feeding America

Live State Radio show

My Brother in Homer AK, halibut fishing

Montana boy meets the ocean


  1. Great Stuff Loren! Sounds like a wonderful time for sure.


  2. Loren, I totally flashed your orange slab problem, it was sick. I was like blizzaaattt bliggity blizzaaamm!!! Everyone was watching and and cheering and they were all like "Whoa, I didn't know Sharma was in Montana?" Sharma ain't got shit on me though...

  3. Oh yeah, nice photos! Need to see a little more bouldering though.

  4. Great Mixed Trip! I used to live in Talkeetna and now reside in Red Lodge. Maybe one day we'll cross pathes...enjoying your blog...

    Alex Johnson

  5. Thanks Alex, I'm in Redlodge pretty often, mainly on weekends. If you ever need a climbing partner for some Beartooth adventures hit me up!