An Adventurers Guide for Driving to Alaska

August 4, 2019
What I thought all of Alaska looked like (Wrangell-St Elias NP)

My recent trip to Alaska had a lot going on. I worked as a digital nomad for three weeks and took three weeks off, established a new mountaineering route, hiked, kayaked, climbed and played around with drone videography. More than any of that I started getting a good taste of Alaska and understanding how to travel around it and what each region has to offer.

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Establishing the New “Hole in the Goat” Mountaineering Route in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias

July 28, 2019

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is America’s largest park, “it is the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined.” Additionally, it contains 60% by volume of all of Alaska’s glacial ice. It is a place with barely any roads or trails, and therefore often requires bush planes to access the backcountry. The pinnacle of our true Alaska experience, Sadie ‘Alpine Babe’ Skiles and I established a new mountaineering-backpacking route even the locals were interested to hear about.

The “Hole in the Goat” loop travels half on the ‘The Goat Trail’ before crossing a pass to gain the “Hole in the Wall” glacier and is followed by five miles of crevassed glacier, five miles of rock glacier and one knee-high river crossing before returning to the start at Skolai Airstrip. It took us four days to accomplish this route with 8-10 hour, seven mile days. The route is 25 miles and 7,000 ft elevation gain as the raven flies, but we aren’t ravens so probably more like 30 miles and 9,000 ft. It hosted caribou, siamese looking Hoary Marmots, a cute red backed Ermine, dozens of mountain goats, a pair of blonde curious brown bears, fifty unique geodes and views of puffy white 15,000 ft peaks. Speaking with a very interested 20 year bush pilot veteran of the park and the owner of a guide service, people have thought about this loop but never attempted to pierce ‘The Fin’ rock wall separating the Upper Goat Route and Skolai Basin.

For Technical Description see Summit Post and AllTrails Map.

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The Dead Mouse on the Rae Lakes Loop

August 30, 2018

The view from Rae Lake

The Rae Lakes Loop is a 38 mile, ~8,000 ft elevation gain loop that, even with those statistics, makes it maybe the easiest loop in SEKI. Not only that, it hosts strikingly wide valley views of lake filled meadows contrasted with high sierra alpine. Finally, the whole loop is abundant in water either from large rivers or larger lakes 90% of its length. I discovered, on trail, these are the reasons the Rae Lakes Loop is a common name among outdoor enthusiasts who are often used to the steep High Sierra in a water starved California.

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My Climb Against All Odds

December 12, 2017

Guest Post by 2017 Climb Against the Odds climber, Amy

It was the middle of June, and I found myself surrounded by snow. My body fought for oxygen as I propelled myself, one crunchy footstep at a time, toward the 14,179 foot peak. Summiting Mt. Shasta was not only a physical achievement, but something that just five years ago would have been totally impossible for me.

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Sleeping on the Best Knife-Edge Ridge Climb You’ve Never Heard About

September 25, 2017

Me following on the knife edge

It all started one day when I happened upon this description, “longer, more sustained, more exposed Matthes Crest”. Wow, Matthes Crest is THE favorite climb for many people and I just stumbled upon a similar route that could be its superior! The lacking description, amazing photos, wilderness setting and few ascents for Saber Ridge only added to the allure of the adventure. What I would find was the most sustained exposure since Mt Sir Donald on a wild backcountry route so committing and long that it took an unexpected overnight ledge bivy to finish.

Note: I provide a detailed, technical description of the climb in another post, while providing a general description below to keep the story moving.

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Monster Movie Mosquitos over 26 miles of Canoeing the BWCAW

September 15, 2017

Let me take you to a place where there are more fish than people, where every campsite has a lakeside view and a swarm of mosquitos takes on a whole new meaning. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is located in the most Northern reaches of Minnesota. Where regulations restrict motorized boats, there are no roads and the basic luxuries of a campsite latrine and fire ring provide primitive access while protecting the pristine environment. The regulations go so far as to allow no more than four canoes and nine people to gather at any time. This is wilderness.

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Running Rivers and Colca Canyon Hot Springs in Arequepa

May 28, 2017
View of arequipa with distant volcano you can mountaineer

View of arequipa with distant volcano you can mountaineer

This week I’m going to talk about my time in Southern Peru last September where I ran a fourth class river and soaked in hot springs at the bottom of one of the deepest canyons in the world. 

Arequepa (also known as ‘white city’) is a desert city that sits underneath a volcano and on the southern border of Peru with Bolivia. It is about 18 hours from Lima from bus or (2-4x the price) an hour plane ride. The city has some cool architecture but it is far from a city dominated by white buildings. In general I found the city much more touristy and expensive after coming from the adventure basecamp feel of Hauraz.

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The Best Backcountry Food

May 14, 2017

What I packed in (minus wine) for my eight day solo backpacking trip in Peru.

“What food should I take into the backcountry?” is a frequent question among novice backpackers. Us frequent backcountry travelers often get into a funk of the same foods that work for us, but still run into specific cases where we reconsider what we are optimizing for: weight, volume, tastiness, comfort, preparation time or price. In this post I’m going to crunch some data to better understand which foods are best for certain situations and offer my own advice from over 100 days in the backcountry.

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Alpine Touring on Mt. Morrison

April 18, 2017

I happened upon the Convict Lake area on my birthday backpacking trip up to Mt. Baldwin in 2016. The area is an amazing Eastern Sierra setting with two notable peaks (Morrison and Laurel) within a mile of the parking lot and an amazing remote basin several miles back. In this trip we were to follow the East Slope Variation route to ascend the chute between Mini Morrison and Mt. Morrison, ski down the chute, camp and then the next day ski out via the East Slope route. (map)

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Sleep in a Snow Cave, Ski down a Mountain: Lassen Volcanic National Park

January 22, 2017

We skied down from here and higher to Emerald Lake (below) on our second day (Sunday). Slope is < 25 degrees.

Last weekend with snow pouring on the Sierra all week EVERYONE was going out skiing, but I wasn’t going to get stuck in Tahoe traffic or waiting in a lift line. No, ten extra feet of snow at Lassen Volcanic National Park meant we were going out for three day backcountry ski adventure where we would sleep in snow caves and ski down untouched powder in low avalanche conditions.

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