Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beartooths + Wind Rivers = Alpine rock

Tower of Innocence

Cirque of the towers

I am starting school at Montana State University (Bozeman) this semester after a 3 year hiatus. I'm hoping be be slightly more marketable in the future (when my knees wear out) and maybe do some good in the world by sharing knowledge and stoke. The plan is to gain my secondary education certification with a third undergrad degree (this time in general science broadfield) and a chemistry minor. I'm getting dangerously close to becoming a professional college student, but it beats the 9-5 grind; working a job you don't get much out of, making money so you can excape the red, and working until you expire.

Anyway, Bridget and I decided to take a small trip before classes started. We chose to go to the east rosebud valley in the Beartooth Mountains. We wanted to check out the Bear's face (the south-west buttress)and the tower of innocence.
We hiked to the base of the Bear's face on a sweltering August day and stared dumbstruck at the buttress, we both had bad, unfounded, feelings about jumping on the route for some reason, so we just took a few pictures and walked the 5 miles back to the car. The next day we woke up early and got on the tower of innocence. Rusty Willis has hinted at the quality of the route, and knowing his preferences, it had to be a good route.

The first 5.10 pitch went well with wild climbing and a stout boulder problem protected by an ancient pin. The weather then took a turn for the worst with strong winds and black clouds. we decided to continue on easier (5.9) ground out right for a few pitches until we hit a large ledge with trees used for the standard descent. When we reached this ledge the clouds parted and sun poored on the spire. Now completly lost on the spire we chose a loose traversing pitch that led to a 5.9+ squeeze chimney, this went well with a few curses for flavor. The next 5.8 pitch took us through a tunnel (you can see this from the approach gully) and the summit. What an awesome tower!

View down from the first 5.10 pitch

Bridget on the tower of innocence

Bridget looking up the squeeze chimney

The second part of the journey was driving to the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. We headed to the Cirque of the towers in the souther end of the range. We hiked in following the big sandy stream, upto jackass pass, and into the beautiful hidden cirque. That night it rained all night and froze. We waited around until 7 hoping it would get warmer before jumping on the Wolf's Head. What a climb (the best 5.6 in the world?), miles of engaging and sometimes improbable climbing brought us to the summit. We had the whole route to ourselves eventhough it is one of the fifty classic climbs of N.A.
The next day we woke up with frozen water bottles (again) and waited until the sun was hitting the popular K-cracks of pingora. We suited up and climbed this fun route to the summit with the luxury of no time strain. Super mellow and fun! The next day we hiked out and drove back to Bozeman where we arrived at 2am.
Cheers, Loren

wolf's head (left) pingora (right)

Bridget on Wolf's head

Wolf's head

Bridget on Wolf's head

Bridget on Pingora climbing the famous K-Cracks


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Granite Peak

The Shelley Arete marked in red. I got this picture from this awesome site FRIENDS OF GRANITE PEAK

Bridget and I just got back from a trip to Granite peak, the highest point in Montana. I have been looking at a long arete on the peaks south side for a while now and decided this was the trip to give it a try.
We left out tent at 5:00am and summited the peak at 4:30 pm, after 15 pitches of climbing, mostly alpine 5.6/7, with 3 or 4 pitches of 5.9 thrown in. We rappelled the east ridge back to the tent.
I want to name the route the "Shelley Arete" ,if it's a new route, after a Redlodge local who gets after it in the Beartooths and who has probably climbed Granite peak more than any other person. Cheers, Loren

Music by: Port O'brien

Monday, August 9, 2010

micro moonflower buttress, Alaska


Climbers are Rachael Greenberg, Jonathan Spritzer, and myself. The route is called "Bacon and Eggs", first climbed in 2008 by Westman/Walsh. Cheers

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