Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mt. Jackson, GNP

It had been around 10 years since I last stepped on the summit of Mt. Jackson in Glacier National Park.  Back then the goal was just to climb the peak, this time however, Patrick and I were hoping to ski it.  The weather forecast was ok and we had three days for a comfortable round trip.  When we reached the trailhead, there wasn't nearly any snow.  Our planned casual 6 mile ski was turning into a long hike.  Its hard to complain though when that hike is in Glacier.  We quickly packed up and hit the trail.

The approach to Jackson must be one of the chillest in the park.  600ft elevation gain over 6 miles.  We crossed several creeks and negotiated our way around several downed trees as well as soft snow patches.  For the most part the trail was easy going and we soon found ourselves at the Gunsight Lake campground at the base of Mt. Jackson.

Moose on the trail

The NE face of Jackson on the left

With a slightly ominous sky, we made camp and prepared for the night.  In the morning, we woke to the sun creeping over Mt. Citadel.  Excited by the good weather, we quickly made breakfast and began our way up Jackson.  The bridge at the outlet of the lake had been taken out by an avalanche last year so we were forced to wade across.  The first few steps weren't bad, but by the time I was half way across, my feet were in so much pain from cold that the snow on the far side actually felt warm to stand on.  After a short rewarming period, the boots went back on and we began the climb.

The slope and snow conditions made skinning up impossible so we immediately put on crampons and began booting up.  It was pretty straight forward.  5,000 vertical feet of kicking steps.  Once we were off the East face and on the summit ridge-line, we ditched the skies and continued up to the summit.  We climbed the final headwall of the North face and I decided that it wasn't in conditions that I could manage,  too steep and wind effected.

Patrick on the summit

We spent a little time on the summit enjoying the views then headed back for our skis.  Once at our skis we were ready for the fun part.  We still had 3,400 feet to descend and conditions looked good.  Patrick dropped in and began ripping what looked like perfect corn snow.  I quickly followed and confirmed it.  Patrick and I got about 2,000 feet of a perfect fall line and corn snow.  As the slope mellowed out, we made our way around to the North aspect and skied the trees back to the creek.  One more dash through the creek had us back to camp with plenty of time to relax.

Patrick ripping the slop

Monday, May 14, 2012

Back in Blodgett Canyon

Friday morning I met up with Shapiro planning to climb in Blodgett canyon.  We had our sights set on an eight-pitch route, which recently went free, by one of our friends.  We’ve been spending most of our time sport climbing this spring, and were eager to get some air under our feet.

Jeff and I had a bit of a casual start, getting to the parking lot around 10am.  The approach went as expected and by noon we were racking up at the base.  As I began the first pitch, I quickly realized that my recent inner ear infection, which had been causing balance issues, hadn’t quite passed.  Despite the unsteadiness, I continued up the pitch reaching the anchor.  Meanwhile Jeff was posed in the classic belay position, which was starting to take its toll on his neck.  A recent rear-ending car accident has left Jeff with a lingering injury.  Jeff climbed up the pitch and when he reached me, we laughed, discussing how we both felt like a couple of old guys.  Since we both felt off our games, it was time to change plans.

We thought it would be best if we took it easy, opting for some moderate climbing and a relaxing day on the wall.  Another pitch put us on a nice ledge where we could hang out and TR a more challenging pitch.  Jeff and I spent the rest of the afternoon working a very aesthetic corner and enjoying the views. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Falling into Place

My hard work with climbing and photography has finally paid off.  I have been given the opportunity to represent the company Wild Things gear as a climbing ambassador.  With that, my photography is getting more exposure.  They recently ran an ad in the current issue of Alpinist featuring one of my pictures.