Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Backcountry is Ready

Spent the last few days at Lolo Pass back country skiing. The recent warm temps allowed the snow pack to settle forming a nice base to hide logs and stumps. Today was so good might just have to go back tomorrow for some more...




Friday, December 26, 2008

Skunked on Christmas Eve

Patrick and I loaded up his snowmobile and headed for St. Mary peak in the Bitterroot mountains south of town, for what we hoped would be a nice day of skiing. The parking lot is around 7,000ft and the summit around 9,000ft, so we figured on finding plenty of snow. Unfortunately there is only about two feet in the mountains now.

We spent about three hours skinning up to a nice access point into the north bowl. The terrain was steep and loaded so conditions were horrible at best...

Needless to say we followed our tracks back to the snowmobile.


The lake where the avalanche stopped

The trees up there have been tortured by the wind making for some nice pics.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mission Mountains

Sunday, the planets must have aligned or something, cause Shapiro and I had a day off together. Temps were forecaste to be moderate (12f) so we planned to climb at Mission Falls. As were drove there, bank signs read -4f so I began to question the forecast. Some down-fall prevented us from reaching the parking lot so our 2 mile approach was annoyingly extended. Temps remained cold and neither Jeff or I could keep our toes and fingers warm. Despite the misery, we kept laughing as we slogged up the horrible trail.

When we got our first glimpse of the ice, we were amazed that there wasn't more. Not that there wasn't a lot, we just thought that with the recent below zero temps there would be more. No worried though, there was plenty to climb.

Still cold, we decided to boulder around and check stuff out to warm up. After quite some time we realized it was just too cold to properly warm up. We were both "over it" and the idea of sitting at the bar next to a fire enjoying some food and drinks was much more appealing. We had slogged all the way out there so with our last bits of motivation decided to climb. Basically so we could say we did.

The plan was to climb as quick as possible so we could begin our progress towards the bar. The cold brittle ice shut me down though. Screws were tough to place and tool placements had to be thoughtfully chosen. The occasional shotgun sounding crack of the ice as it accepted my place on it, mentally slowed my progress. Eventually I made it up and quickly put Jeff on belay. After an intimate visit with the "screamy barfys" Jeff topped out and we were on our way.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ice Season Begins!

Normally I start off the season cragging, easing my way back into ice climbing mode. This season however, has been unseasonably warm except in the high country. With no local ice around, I called my buddy Justin Woods in Whitefish and plans were made to climb in Glacier National Park. Kyle Sharfe would join us so we headed up to Whitefish Thursday night to prepare for Friday's climb.

North Face of Mt. Edwards (faint red line showing the route)

Kyle starting the 1st pitch

After four hours of sleep, the alarm went off at 3 o'clock. We jumped in the car and headed for the park. Some coffee and powdered doughnuts comforted me while I thought of the huge undertaking we were about to embark on. The plan was to climb "six pack of beer" then continue to the summit of Mt. Edwards. Its about 15oo ft of ice followed by 1500 ft of snow and rock. The route has only been climbed twice before, each time taking 2 days. Considering this along with the limited day light, we would be pushing it.

Justin and Kyle climbing pitch 3

Kyle Sharfe

We reached the base around 7:30 - 8:00 after 5 miles of approaching. In order to save time, we soloed the first 400 ft then roped up. The ice was in great condition so we continued on without hesitation. The ground fell away below us and at around 12:30, we topped out on the ice climb proper.

Justin Woods

Self portrait w/Justin

At this point the weather was looking stormy and we had to decide whether to rappel the route or continue up looking for an escape off the East face. Making the summit during day light was out of the question and fear of waking up to feet of new snow made the idea of bivying unappealing. We decided rather than rappelling though the dark we would continue up and find another way off.

Justin beginning the hike out

We found a nice snow/ice ribbon to climb through the upper face and eventually came to a ledge system that granted us access to the East ridge. We guessed correct. The ledge continued around the East face allowing for an easy walk off.

The East face turned out to be a horrible wind slab, but being our only way off, we were forced to deal with it. Eventually we made it down without any problems. With the last rays of light, we packed up and began our 9 mile hike out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Day

Thursday was a busy day spent at the hospital then followed by a great evening with friends/family. Work never closes so some of us unfortunately have to work the holidays. Fortunately with my new schedule (4am-4pm), work doesn't get in the way too often.

Mike and Nya


After work I raced over to the Shapiro's for a nice dinner with Jeff, Kara, Nya, Dave, Mike, and Pam. The food was wonderful second only to the company. It was an early night since Jeff had to work the next day, so I was off to meet up with more friends.

Travis, Jen, Shanon, and Josh


Bonny and Jen

Bonny and Steph

Bonny was hosting Thanksgiving, so I headed there next and met up with her, Jen, Travis, Steph, and others. At this point I tried to stick to a liquid diet, but found myself with a second dinner. After wine, two dinners, and being on my feet for 20 hours, my body told me this day had come to an end.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Escape to the Cascades

I spent the last few days with my Uncle Bob at his cabin in the Cascade mountains. The cabin is above the town of Leavenworth and is a wonderful place to disappear to. Winter has begun to grasp the area dropping snowline to around 4,000 ft. Cloudy winter skies and cool temps made the cabin and the fire stove inside all that more welcoming. We did however go for a nice hike up to Colchuck lake which boarders the Enchantments. The snow was about shin deep, but the air was calm making for a nice day.

Bob and the cabin

The trail to Colchuck

Sunday greeted us with clear skies and cold temps. Frost covered the ground, but the day was too beautiful to not enjoy. The day would be short since we both had to head home, so it was decided we would go for a short walk amongst some boulders.

Colchuck Lake

A few years ago, a new bouldering area was developed and as it turned out, was just down the road from the cabin. I had climbed there a few years ago, so I thought I would show Bob. Everything was still frosted over so no bouldering, but we enjoyed the short walk before leaving for home.

Icicle Creek in the background


Friday, October 31, 2008


Let me apologize for the lack of recent postings. I recently had a minor mishap with my camera so I haven't been taking any pictures.

About a week ago Linsey and I though we would spend an afternoon floating down the Blackfoot River. Since it is October and the water is so low, our biggest concern was how often we would be scraping the bottom. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way. Within minutes of "putting in", we flipped the canoe and swam through class 2 rapids. No life vests and nothing in dry bags - very stupid! We salvaged everything, but my camera equipment was toast.

When I purchased the camera, I was very resistant to the idea of buying insurance for it. As apprehensive as I was, I decided to purchase it anyways. Good call. Now the camera is in the mail to be fixed free of charge or better yet "scrapped" and I can then upgrade for a small price.

Since I don't have my nice camera, I dug up and old point-and-shoot. This shoots video so I have been messing around with it. Linsey and I went bouldering in Lost Horse canyon the other day and here is a brief video of it:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Glacier National Park

Oct. 2nd and 3rd I helped my buddy Justin teach a EMT refresher class to the park rangers. It turned out to be a good class, but wasn't without some tension. As we found out, there seems to be an overwhelming disapproval of climbers in the park. Being that Justin and I are both climbers, we had to put up with the occasional jab from rangers. It was all in good fun though.

After class on the first day, Justin and I headed up to Logan pass to get some exercise and take some photos. As usual, the park didn't let us down and we got to see sheep, goats, and some amazing scenery. I tried using a new photo technique; HDR formatting. I'm still learning it, but here are some examples.

Mt. Clemens

Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain

Logan Pass and Going-to-the-Sun Mountain

Logan Pass

Sept. 27th

Jen and Travis got married. It was a beautiful ceremony on a spectacular day. The party that followed was as expected...awesome. Here are some pics of Jen and Travis.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another Great Day

Yesterday was another one of those great days that once again made me recognize how wonderful my life is. It may sound arrogant, but how many people can say they woke to a bull moose grazing 50 yards from them and finished the day flying like an eagle!

Trail head

Rock Creek Lake

Thursday I headed into the mountains to climb a few peaks, one of which was rumored to hold snow/ice year round. It was about 6 mile approach, but when I got to the lake 4 miles in, I could see that the snow/ice couloir was melted out. Uninterested in scrambling the rock, I decided it would be nice to camp at the lake. I found a nice level spot on some bedrock perched 30 feet above the lake and called it camp.

Back of the Lake

The afternoon was nice and quite. Some nice alone time to relax and think about things. As night crept in, temps dropped quickly and I found refuge in my sleeping bag. The night was spectacular. There was a near full moon and when it disappeared behind peaks, the stars were brilliant. I laid awake watching shooting stars and listening to a moose walk around my camp.


I awoke to spectacular lighting and quickly grabbed my camera. Took a few shoots then spotted the silhouette of my host. The moose was grazing about 50 yards from me and occasionally took notice of me when I snapped a shot. After about an hour I got up to make breakfast, pushing the moose out of it's comfort zone where it quickly ran off to the woods.


The Wildlife

I headed home shortly after breakfast and got a call during my drive that people were meeting at the LZ to fly. Perfect. I'd be just on time.

Karl, Josh, Nick, John and I headed up the hill for what we thought would be a great flight. As it turned out, the winds didn't come that were forecasted leaving us with sled rides. Not as great as a soaring flight, but fun enough. I mounted a camera on my wing and snapped some pics on the way down. Tried to get some wing-over shots, but there are still some kinks I need to work out of my camera system before that will work.

Flying over Mount Sentinel

Everyone landed safely and then headed over to beer fest to do what we love the most after flying, kick a few back!