Climbing Bear Creek Spire – North Arete to 13,700 feet

August 18, 2019
NE Arete as viewed from high up on North Arete on Bear Creek Spire

Bear Creek Spire is found in the Eastern Sierra past several alpine lakes and a mile of talus where the North Arete (5.8, 10 pitch) starts above 12,000 ft. It was also my first date with Sadie Skiles on a failed attempt back in 2016 and we’ve been thinking about it ever since. Now with Little Lakes trailhead 45 minutes away from our new home in Mammoth Lakes we were excited to take another crack at it in non-wind advisory conditions.

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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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Multi-Sport Alaskan Volcano Island Adventure

July 15, 2019
Volcanic coast off the shore of a snack-break island while kayaking

While in the previous capital of Russian-America (Sitka, AK), we took two full days to kayak 14 miles through pristine SE Alaskan islands, backpack 14 miles (3000 ft) up the Mt. Edgecombe volcano and explore the new minted (10-15,000 years old) volcanic shore with rock still frozen in pillowing lava flow.

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Goats and Glaciers on Cairn Peak

July 11, 2019
Hiking Blackerby Ridge Route Trail out to Cairn Peak

On my first day off in Juneau, I told Sadie I wanted to climb a mountain in a long day. Unfortunately with Sadie’s broken thumb still healing we would be unable to heli-climb one of the esthetic Mendenhall Towers out past the famous Mendenhall Glacier. Our objective would have been the amazing 1000 ft, 5.8 Solva Buttress route up the fifth tower of the Mendenhall Towers Massif, but we’ll have to save that for another day. Instead we focused on a long hike up with views of glaciers high above Juneau towards Cairn Peak.  (Drone footage)

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Exploring Ice Caves in Juneau, Alaska

July 7, 2019

“Brice, what is one thing you would want to do in Alaska?” Me: “Crawl in an ice cave”. Now this wasn’t an ‘ice tunnel’ but it was pretty great adventure out at Mendenhall Glacier.

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30 Pitches, 20 Costumes, 12 hrs of fun

June 28, 2019

Every year I do something fun to celebrate my Birthday. It started with Half Dome cables in 2012 and continued to include backcountry river fording adventure in the Eastern Sierra and an overnight at the top of Royal Arches. This year I co-conspired with the lovely Sadie Skiles to climb 30-costumed pitches in a day for my 30th birthday.

I’ll be the first to admit, this isn’t really that impressive compared to Alex Honnold’s 290 pitches for his Birthday in 2014, but hey. He didn’t wear any costumes.

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Reading Braille on Higher Cathedral

June 18, 2019
On top of Higher Cathedral Rock

The prior weekend I spent two hours leading one 100ft sustained 10b off-width. Having to clear cams on lead 3-4 times after they fixed themselves bumping them on Mental Block. Which kinda told me that Lauren and I were not ready for the notorious Steck-Salethe. So why not take on one of the most sandbagged climbs in the valley instead? NE Buttress of Higher Cathedral: an 11 pitch climb cruxing out at 5.9++.

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Quiet Oceanside Cruxes on Memorial Day

June 3, 2019
Patrick’s Point – Black Wall

On Memorial Day weekend I had to get creative after having to abandon my Sonora Pass destination due to an abnormally wet Spring. Using my Where To Climb App I was able to find somewhere dry, it was just 6 hrs away. There was a wide-variety of good climbing in NorCal outside of Eureka and even on Memorial Day weekend we had most the crags to ourselves… Although it was hard to find a place to sleep. (classic California)

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How to be a Super Slacker Yosemite Climber

April 15, 2019
Climber sending 10a crack up Reed’s Pinnacle Direct.

It. Has. Stopped. Raining!!! For nearly the first weekend since December, it was no longer raining in California so we could get out and climb. It is very snowy in Yosemite Valley, but Down Canyon is warm and mostly dry. Time for some awful off-width and super slacker knobs.

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Journey to the Edge of the World – Saudi Arabia

March 31, 2019
The Edge of the World

No good Backcountry Nomad trip is complete without an expedition into nature. Exiting the sprawling, status-hungry, car-obsessed city of Riyadh, I set my sights on visiting “The Edge of the World”. I was not expecting 1000 ft desert massifs shooting out of the ground in a flat region of Saudi Arabia.

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