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.read more …
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.
Guest Post by Ryan George
“The Bugaboos is a magical alpine playground of wild weather, pristine wilderness and towering granite spires…”
– Atkinson and Piche, The Bugaboos guidebook
I truly believe that if you want something bad enough for long enough, it’s bound to happen. Eight years ago, while, climbing the majestic Cook range in New Zealand, I asked my mountaineering instructor where he went for vacation. As he described granite soaring over glaciers in the Bugaboos, I began to love a place I’d never been. It took me eight years to acquire the friends and skills to make it a reality, but this July I finally got to climb in this alpine wonderland.
When people hear the name of this park, they laugh; when they search it, they gape. Since there’s no place quite like it, it’s truly unimaginable, and I found myself at a loss for how to prepare. In particular, what should I bring up the short but steep approach to camp? Having made the mistake of bringing a far too heavy pack, I’ll share my hard-won wisdom on what not to bring to this committing location. (Disclaimer: consider conditions when packing up; we had near-perfect weather)
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)
Less than 24 hours earlier I woke up in a freezing desert outside Red Rock Canyon where I spent Christmas rock climbing. I now found myself in a snowy parking lot stuffing climbing ropes and ice tools into an already full backpack. I would be celebrating this New Year’s Eve by winter camping in a Coldstream Canyon at the base of frozen waterfalls for ice climbing. Welcome to Brice-style holidays.
I had been training all year for a difficult climb up Sargent’s Ridge when the trip fell through a couple weekends back so when I had an opportunity at another ridge route I jumped at it. In all the trip was a bit of an adventure with encountering a lighting storm while on the mountain, sustained wind for the whole climb, going solo for part of it and not being able to see when my glasses iced over on a steep section. I’m calling this write up the Casaval Traverse since I deviated off Casaval Ridge around 12,500 ft and topped out at the West Face instead of doing the Catwalk.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the snowiest places in California and also one of the least visited national parks despite its rich geology and beauty. Around mid-April it was one of few lower elevation peaks with enough snow for a full snow mountaineering accent. The other peaks we had considered near Convict Lake (Laurel and Morrison) now nearly bare.
“We think we took a wrong turn a quarter of a mile back.”
Guest post by Matthew Adjemian