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Liz Daley

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About Liz Daley

  • Rank
    stranger
  • Birthday 05/10/1985

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  • Homepage
    www.lizdaley.us
  • Occupation
    Mountain guide and instructor
  • Location
    Washington/France
  1. Trip: Mt. Baker > Mt. Rainier - Coleman Deming, Fuhrer Finger & Thumb Date: 5/13/2014 Trip Report: These past couple weeks back home in Washington have been just what I've needed before heading back up to Alaska to guide Denali. I didn't get to Baker's north side once last year since the road was closed so I was stoked to get up there and check it out. This trip was a week ago Tuesday, May 6th, and it was only about a mile in a half skin up the Glacier Creek Rd. I'm sure now, it's much less. We decided to do a one day push, leaving the car at about 5am. We parked at ~3,000 feet, making it a pretty big day. Finally out of the trees, atop Heliotrope ridge. Drew Tabke photo of me with the Colfax icefall beyond. Conditions were great for skinning, firm and fast. (Split-crampons are essential for spring touring on the volcanoes). The crevasses were really big, bigger than I've seen them in previous springs and the glacier has changed a lot in the last two years since I had been up the CD. The route usually goes right and hugs the Black Buttes but it was much better to stay left avoiding huge cracks and staying out from under the Colfax icefall. We made some coffee on the summit and waited for the clouds to clear while getting a nice coffee high. We rode a variation from the summit linking together the upper section of the Roman Wall and the bottom section of the Roman Mustache. The snow was much better than it looked. Joe charging down the Roman Wall. Tabke slashing. Joe gittin' some under the rhimey Roman nose. Joe droppin' into the lower section of the Mustache, a really nice kind of hanging glacier ramp. Seems like there are some crevasses at the top of the ramp that will open up soon. Joe boosting. We were tired so we went climbing in the sun at Index.... wait, the Champ never gets tired. Correction, I was tired. Me, sending most magnificent splitter. On to Rainier. Not too sure what our objective would be, Blaine and I headed out on the Turtle to camp for a night and practice some rescue skillz before we both take off for Denali. I've had my eyes on some bigger objectives but the snow wasn't right. It hadn't consolidated like I'd hoped so we did a Fuhrer Finger and Thumb lap the next day. Both super nice, sustained 2,000 ft lines. Pretty manky and it felt like 85 degrees booting up. My face is burnt to crap, I look like a god damn cherry face. No amount of Dermatone could save me. Blaine crushing the Fuhrer Finger. Quick booter back up the Finger then dropped into the Thumb. Blaine having fun on the Thumb: Whelp see ya! Off to Denali. Someone shred some wicked lines on Rainier for me while I'm away!
  2. Trip: Chamonix - Trappier & Pointe Inférieure de Tricot: Couloir NE Date: 3/29/2014 Trip Report: It felt like full on summer until it dumped again in Cham about a week ago. Enough of that sunny splitter we'd been climbing, that shit's too enjoyable, time to suffer in the mountains. Alas, winter conditions returned to the Alps with freezing levels back down to the valley and massive dumps up high. It was going to take a lot of snow to cover what three weeks of sun had done to the snowpack though. I was pretty pessimistic at first, when our first day out, back at the Helbronner there was a foot of blower on crust with wind slabs and scary crusty snow beneath the surface. The Finn's scraped their way down the cable face, knocking off chunks of windslabs in a white out, in a you fall you die, it slides you die zone. They're so core. This was entertaining until our tits started to freeze off so we downloaded and went for pizza. Caroline Gleich photo: I decided to give the snow a bit of time to bond to those old layers then we went to shred the Trappier on the Aiguille de Gouter. I've ridden this line twice in the past 5 seasons but this time was all time, perfect pow on the approach and impeccable snow in the couloir. The approach a never ending traverse, across three big bowls, a bootpack up a avalanche prone couloir and more traversing to get to the entrance of the couloir. My first season I tried to do this on my approach skis and had an epic fail. Ended up walking almost the entire approach in crampons. http://www.lizdaley.us/Liz_Daley/Trip_Reports/Entries/2010/4/10_Couloir_Trappier%2C_Chamonix_France.html Dave Searle. Check out his site for awesome beta or to book a guide: http://www.chamonixtopo.com Cool view of Chamonix from down valley that I don't see much. It looks good, Ross Hewitt about to rip the *hit outta it! ~8,000 vertical shot to the valley. Probably about 6,000 of that being really good riding, the rest is an epic uphill bushwhacking traverse in manky snow and dirt. "Not that bad", the skiers say, ha. Ross shredding pow: We saw this super sick looking couloir on the approach to the Trappier, across the Bionassay Glacier. We almost changed our plans to go out there but decided to save it for the next day because we didn't have the necessary equipment to get that rad. So, the following day Dave, Powdherb, Ross and I decided to go for it. It was a new zone for me, so I was stoked! The Pointe Inférieure de Tricot, Couloir NE is about a 1,500 ft couloir, rated 5.1 in the Toponeige book. NE facing, kind of blocked by the Mont Blanc so it hopefully didn't get much of that southerly Foehn wind and it's pretty sheltered so we didn't think there'd be dust on crust in this coulie.... um. We were right. After a climb, a traverse over a couple moraines and a couple changeovers we were on our way to the base of the couloir. Away from the Chamonix crowds in complete solitude, with only the massive serac jungle above our heads that extends all the way up to the sommet du Mont Blanc, 8,000 feet above us. Beautifully dramatic zone. We traversed above to the major compression zone of the glacier, out of the fall line of the unpredictable, deteriorating serac's. As we approached the bottom there's a big cliff where tons of sluff was shooting down past the bergshrund into the apron. We quickly got over the shrund and across this zone. Davide De Masi photo: Happy to be out of the front-pointing sections of the middle of the couloir, hard men, Powdherb and Dave Searle about half way up the line. Ross Hewitt was sending it with his home-made Verts which he engineered from a stollen road-block barrier or... "Spanking Paddles" as they've dubbed them. To contact Ross about how to make these or see his awesome photos check out his site: http://www.rosshewittblog.wordpress.com Me approaching the top! Davide De Masi photo: We continued up a steeper, narrow and shaded northerly aspect that would take us to the sunny col about 100 feet above. We started sinking into facets which made climbing super difficult and pretty sketchy, so we decided to drop in from there. Me, well below the choke. Snow's even better than anticipated. SO. STOKED! Davide De Masi photo: Searle rippin' the middle portion. The couloir was never too steep but I could see how this line would be scary in bad conditions. Davide De Masi photo: As we exited the couloir we had to cross the compression zone full of debris. It looked pretty flat so I thought I could get some speed into it and get across it quite easily... I managed to charge over a ton of crusty debris then I got some weird vertigo and something happened... not sure what, but I ended up on my back downhill, turtling as I hear something cascade down a cliff. I was out of the main fall line but it still scared me. I squirted a bit then got on my feet and poled over to the boys. That was dumb. After a muddy skin back up to Les Houches we drank brews in the sun then raced the Kandahar track down to the car.
  3. Trip: Chamonix & Les Calanques - Versant Satanique & others Date: 3/19/2014 Trip Report: When the weather finally clears in Chamonix after a long two months of shredding powder and storm riding I am so stoked to get out in the mountains on my splitboard and ride some big lines. Usually with a forecast like we saw, high pressure for the foreseeable future, the snow stays good unless we get high winds or really rapid warming. Whelp, it stayed good for a couple days then it all went to shizah. Conditions were only getting worse, wind scoured, gray ice on the north faces and rotten or frozen snow on the south faces. I had some friends in town who were trying to ride big lines in what I thought were dicey conditions. It’s like when you have friends visiting and you feel pressure to show them a good time, like taking them to your favorite restaurant or bar or showing them a cool local historic landmark, except in Chamonix your friends are expecting you to show them a life changing, adrenaline filled day of riding steeps, experiencing what Cham is all about. It’s pressure to show them a massive line that could most likely kill you or them or everyone. It’s funny how in Chamonix people who visit have this tick list of lines they must ski within a given window in their time here. This is understandable, being that Chamonix is such a historic place and world mecca for steep skiing and ski mountaineering BUT it can be a very dangerous mindset to be in, in a short window of time. Isn't the very notion of a tick list inherently dangerous in the mountains? It's like having summit or powder fever. For me, I like to ride big lines when they’re in good to great condition when you can actually ride them in good style and enjoy the descent. I spend three months in Chamonix every year to give myself a big window for conditions to be right. Ideally, I’d have five months here. I hate being scared shitless on top of a line, having to sink both tools in and scrape my way down a massive icy, you fall you die descent. For this reason I only really accomplish a couple big descents a season, but that’s ok with me. I’d rather ride something in great condition, have fun and feel good about the way I rode it than to struggle my way down something just to tick it off the list. That’s no fun and it’s fucking dangerous. That said, others may enjoy these types of descents more than me, and others, probably skiers (people with four points of contact rather than one) could probably ski them in good style where as I probably could not. I feel there’s only a certain amount of times one can get away with these kinds of descents before something goes wrong, you hit some grey ice or a rock, you slip out and can’t recover (because everyone knows there is no self-arresting in this terrain), you have a binding malfunction, a rock hits you in the head... whatever it is, and you fall to your death. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not that good of a snowboarder, or perhaps these kind of lines are easier on skis, maybe I have a lower risk tolerance than others... or I’m just a pussy, but I value my life and I think others do too and I want to be snowboarding and climbing for a long time to come, like many of us say... So, enough of my rant... Feeling the pressure to do something stupid in the mountains in poor conditions, Marq and I quickly vacated Cham and headed to the beach to climb some sunny splitter We headed to Les Calanques, a national park bordering Marseilles with tons of epic sport climbing from single to multi-pitch to traverses right above the water. It’s absolute paradise, climber or not. We’re still not sure if you’re allowed to bivy here but we did anyway. We watched the sun set from this vista atop Castelviel. That morning we rapped down the route, Le Muet Qui Rit a 4 pitch 6b climb. I rapped the final pitch and thought I was headed straight into the water. Had to saddlebag both ropes to keep them dry. Then off we went to watch another spectacular sunset from Cap Canaille, above the small fishing town, Cassis. The next day we climbed Never mind the Bollocks, on Cap Canaille, 6 pitches, 6c. Cap Canaille is pretty special. I’ve never climbed rock like this anywhere else. It’s a mixture of bulbous conglomerate sandstone and super sticky, featured limestone right above the ocean! #Gunshow Marq sending the 6c, overhanging pitch. It was pretty difficult since my leg and butt muscles haven’t migrated north yet for the season. Me, leading the final, spectacular pitch, 6a+. After this we whetted ourselves in the ocean and sunbathed on the crowed beach in Cassis with groups of middle aged french women with their sunburnt tits out drinking wine, eating cheese, telling stories and laughing in the sun. Returning home to Chamonix my buddies from out of town were trying to pressure me into riding a icy, gnarly death line. With temps in the high 60’s and 70’s in Chamonix, to me, this is clearly climbing weather and with a taste of my first sunny rock for the season, this was an easy call to make. Dave Searle and I headed up the Argentiere Basin to climb Versant Satanique on the Minaret. We’re so happy! Look there’s even a rainbow! Dave sending the 4th pitch, the awesome dihedral pitch. Super sticky, beautifully orange, sparkly granite cracks waiting to be penetrated. Dave giving me an attentive belay on the fifth pitch, super splitter off-width which finished in a beautiful, steep and pretty difficult 6b+ hand crack. I got Elvis leg bad. As we finished the 5th pitch we talked about who was going to lead the final 6c crux pitch. We were scared. Just as I had decided to send it (I swear!) I checked the time. It was after 5pm and the sun was going off the route... SHIT! There was no time. We decided to bail, but I’ll definitely come back to finish the route, the final pitch looked of the highest quality splitter imaginable. Then we rode down some refrozen mank which was difficult, by the time we made it to the Grandes Montets pistes half of them had been groomed and we shredded fresh roy then tit high slushy mog’s down to the parking lot. Epic day and stoked to make the most out of terrible skiing conditions in the Alps right now. I almost don’t want the snow to come back!
  4. Trip: Chamonix, France - Urinal Couloir>#3girlsonecouloir>Domes de Miage Date: 3/16/2014 Trip Report: Since my last trip report full of epic billowing white smoke, http://lizdaley.us/Liz_Daley/Trip_Reports/Trip_Reports.html, Chamonix conditions changed almost overnight. It's pretty insane how fast the weather and snow changes in these big mountains with various systems coming through constantly. We'd been riding nothing but bottomless blower for almost two months with one or two days of high pressure then BOOM! Tropical meltdown commences. Super warm temps, stable high pressure and violent winds have been warming S/SW faces to climactic mankalanche festivals and have blown all our powder away leaving behind gray ice or sastrugi on north aspects. In search of good snow Powdherb and I decided to check out a new zone for us, the Couloir Pissoir (Urinal couloir). Not sure why it's called this, no sign of more than usual piss or poo in this part of the Alps. Super nice tour from the Grandes Montets, over two cols then down into Trient, Switzerland. The red line: We found some nice sheltered snow by the Trient glacier, but up high it was pretty nasty breakable croustillants. Photo cred: Marq Diamond The next day my lil buddy and teammate Caroline Gleich and her friend KT Miller had arrived in Chamonix to get rad and shred steeps. Being as though it was "Black Weekend" in Chamonix, where everyone parties super hard till the wee hours AND since the snow was crap I wanted to indulge in the festivities rather than ride some steep death gray ice with them. The next day was brutal. We decided to go on a tour with massive headaches and upset stomachs. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day, how could we not? The sun had never felt so hot, I reeked of booze and I winced into the reflective snow with a throbbing headache as we climbed an icy slope from Le Tour. We were headed to ski some GFP off the backside of Le Tour when we started to feel better. Sweatin' out the booze, we decided to climb to a bigger peak in the distance. We looked off the backside and found this sick looking couloir! It looked as though it had already totally slid out at the bottom but the top looked a little rotten. After some boulder hucking and deliberation we dropped in and rode high fructose corn to the Le Tour glacier below. Caroline Gleich iphone photo: It had to have been around 80 degrees. Me, Caro & KT #gunshow #3girlsonecouloir #sunsoutgunsout Next day off for a two day trip that starts in Courmayeur, Italy to traverse the Domes de Miage and ride the Armancette glacier down into Contamine, France. It turned out to be around a 33 km journey. Team of perfect proportions we were, 3:3 chicks to dudes, Americans to Brits, skiers to splitters. We were inherently dialed for success. After 5 hours of side-hilling and a slight route finding error we arrived at the Robert Blanc hut. I drank some vin rouge and chopped wood. Chris fixed the broken window. Paulie told inappropriate jokes in a funny british accent. KT got the shot. Caroline giggled. Tom ate our dinner. And Daddy Yankee serenaded us over my jambox. Tom Grant and his general bad-assery. Climbed up to the Col des Glaciers in the am and rode down ~1,500 ft of epic snow. Not sure how the wind and sun didn't damage this slope. Paulie didn't turn once! Then headed up the Tre la Tete glacier towards the Domes. Caroline tells epic stories of Equadorian volcanoes while Tom talks Cham steeps. As we approached the ridge a couple were retreating because of the consistent strong wind with occasional violent gusts. This titillated the desire for adventure as we came closer to the ridge, making it seem a bit more exposed than it already was. It was hard not to au cheval at some stages on this walk as the wind was tres fort. Wouldn't have wanted to tomahawk down the gnarly N face (which are some classic steep routes later on in the spring but 100% not in now). Tom sends the firm windboard off the summit. The ~9,000 ft descent into Contamine encompassed about every snow condition imaginable. Firm windboard>soft sastrugi>POW!>cream cheese>total mank>icy cat track>dirt. Thankfully we had an hour until the bus took us to the train back to Chamonix so we could stuff our faces with pain au chocolate, chips, beers and pizza. We saw some epic alpenglow on our route down from the bus. We were feeling rather gritty and drunk and started taking silly pictures. #trashgirlz That was enough suffer in the mountains for me for a couple days so we spent the weekend rock climbing on the beach, more to come!
  5. Trip: Chamonix, Switzerland, Italy - Miss Tique, Cache Cache, Voie Contamine Date: 9/9/2013 Trip Report: I came to Europe this time not knowing what the heck I was going to do. I almost always have a plan but this time didn't really. I usually I spend the fall working my butt off so I can get back to Chamonix for the winter. After a week or two of panicking looking for work I said screw it, I'm just going to shred some splitter. And splitter I've been sending. Right when I started sending and stopped worrying so much about responsibilities, turns out I can get paid for climbing! Not much, but it's a start. I have a new series on EpicTV, it's starting with alpine climbing then once winter hits I'll be shredding big lines in Chamonix and other rad places. Before reading on you MUST watch: http://www.epictv.com/media/podcast/epic-alpine-chamonix-splitter-routes-%7C-the-daley-splitter-with-liz-daley-ep-1/248637 My1tdEOlZSI Most photos by Davide De Masi Upon my arrival in Switzerland, Marq, Olov and I headed to Furka Pass. Awesome trad alpine climbing near Andermatt, Switzerland. You can park right at the top of the pass, camp five minutes from the car and it's about a 45 minute approach to the wall we climbed at. We climbed a 6 pitch 6c? I think. I was out of shape from guiding all summer, I didn't really climb above 5c all summer at work so I was SO STOKED to get on some harder stuff. Furka Pass was rad but I wanted to get to Chamonix. I haven't climbed much alpine splitter in Chamonix because I've always been here in the winter. I had a classic in mind I've wanted to climb for a while, the Voie Contamine on the South face of the Aiguille du Midi. 7 pitches, 6c+/7a. It was so good, I climbed it once with Marq and once with Tom. Notice the tank top at 3800 meters! WOOOOOOO! Next it was time for a bit bigger of a mission. Miss Tique on the Aiguille du Moine, 10 pitches, 6c+. A couple hour approach up the Mer de Glace and about 150 meters of sketchy overhanging ladders. The Moine is the nasty mountain on the right, Miss Tique pretty much follows a line right up the middle of the face. Olov is a Swedish send-bot here to take over the world. He's about to finish his Phd in something I don't understand. I just nod my head and smile. He spends his leisure time on missions to Pakistan and skiing first descents around the Alps. He wanted to climb a 10 pitch 8a route on the other side of the Moine but he settled for Miss Tique on mine and Marq's account. He lead the super fun 6c+ splitter fingers pitch up to an airy hanging belay. I lead a really nice 6b hand crack pitch to another nice 6a pitch. Somehow I got convinced to lead the sandbagged "6a" death slab pitch. The topo said it had 3 bolts in 30 meters... Olov said it would be good for my head game, I believe anything Olov says so I went for it. Bolts every 20-30 feet and being 1,000 or so feet above the glacier below I may or may not have sharted a cute girl shart on this pitch. We got down in the dark and made it back to our bivy by the Courvecle Hut right across from the Grandes Jorasses. Two days later we found ourselves in Italy going up the Helbronner tram (home of the worlds BEST shredding, pizza amongst other things). It was about an hour approach to Cache Cache on Pointe Adolphe Rey. 6 pitch 7a. (Adolphe Rey is the orangie outcrop that comes down the furthest in the shot in the center-right of the picture): Famous British extreme skier, Tom Grant leads the amazingly splitter 7a crux fingers pitch. This pitch seemed easier than the 6b slab pitch before it. Why do Euro's always have to ruin a perfectly good splitter climb with a pitch of run-out slab? I led the 5th pitch. 6b SPLITTARRRR fingers to hands to off-width pitch. This was one of the best pitches I've climbed since I've been here. The off-width part was protected with bolts, which for the first time I really appreciated, and at the top you climb through a hole in the rocks and belay from a pilar above. We were worried about making the last bin down the Helbronner in time for Happy Hour in Italy so we quickly rapped off and ran back up the glacier. We managed to make it down to stuff our faces with Nigroni's and free Italian tasty bites. Ti amo Italia! The weather turned to shit and it snowed 30cm's on the Midi. I was excited for some mixed climbing! Turns out mixed climbing is extremely cold, the belays are colder, you're unprotected from the ice chunks coming down and hitting you in the face, the pro is shitty, and it gives you a nasty cold. Perhaps it's an acquired taste, I'll try it again soon. Screw that crap, we're going to Italy. We climbed some nice limestone above the sea, got fat and drank more Negroni's. We reconfirmed Italy is our favorite!
  6. Trip: NFNWR, Mt. Adams - NFNWR Date: 7/2/2013 Trip Report: Washington finally made up her mind and it's actually summer now. Thank GOD! With a week and a half off from guiding work I had to get out for some fun. I rode the NFNWR (North Face of the NW Ridge) of Adams four years ago for the first time after just returning from Chamonix, ready to slay some steeps. It's an insanely intimidating line looking at it from the lake on the road in, it looks totally vertical. I honestly thought, screw that, we're probably not going to ride that line. You can spot the line the entire approach up the pumice ridge and it's not as steep as we thought. It ended up being an instant Cascade classic. Steep, exposed, fall line and perfect corn. One of the best lines I've ridden in the Cascades by far, obviously it had to be enjoyed again. View from the lake. Green: approach, Red: NFNWR shred Jason Hummel just finished the first successful American Alps Traverse with Kyle Miller but was still motivated to get out. Check this out, such hard men, so cool: http://www.powdermag.com/stories/the-american-alps-traverse/ Jason's site: http://www.cascadecrusades.org Juya, Jesse and I met up with him and camped in the parking lot that night. It's about a 3 mile approach from the Killen Creek trailhead. We intended on hiking in early and shredding the Diamond (seen behind us in this pic) or Stormy Monday, further lookers right of the Diamond. More moderate lines that are more easily accessible than the NFNWR. Unfortunately a thunderstorm rolled in right as we got to camp at around 6,500 ft. Thunder, lighting, high winds, hail and rain ensued. This harsed our mallows (after this pic was taken) and we hung out at camp all day. The storm passed and we got eaten by mosquitos. Jesse's face got so swollen I thought he was going to die... or turn into a giant man eating mosquito. Turns out Juya had bug spray the whole time... we drowned our sorrows by the river with IPA and whiskey then watched this EPIC sunset! Rainier to the right. We had a leisurely 8:30am start the next day. Ensued the chossy, pumice ridge climb to 11,000 feet in sneakers. Checking out the line (to the right of the Adams glacier) the whole way up. Jesse, newly discovered ski model, on the last 1,000 ft to the top. Juya about to drop. Juya LOVES steep, fast corn! St. Helens behind. Jesse shredding the mellow bit at the top before the roll over. The snow was a lot softer than we anticipated. It was on the verge of being too soft for the skiers but perfect for me. Jason was sure the whole face was going to wet slide so Jesse and Jason both ski cut it before we dropped into the gnar. Just a few wet loose slides. I put my camera away and prepared for shred. It gets a lot steeper then the crux is a heelside, left traverse through a choke to another steep face. The snow was super fun, edge-able and shreddable. Just steep enough to get your adrenaline going but definitely still type 1 fun. We exited out to the skiers right through some crevasses, GS turns onto the Adams glacier and out. We're "SO STOKED!" Great team and perfect descent, it couldn't have been a better ride. Beware, if you ever climb the N side of Baker bring a GPS and BUG SPRAY! The trail is easily lost if you're unfamiliar with the area. People notoriously get lost on this exit. We didn't have a GPS or map/compass because Jason has been on the N side of Adams about 60 times and to our surprise he decided to stay up there another night, leaving us to forge our way out unguided. We got totally forest fucked and ended up bushwacking for almost 4 hours through endless dense forest, muddy swamps and meadows and the thickest willows and shrubs I've ever encountered. It felt like an eternal nightmare of mud up to our knees, swarms of mosquitos and fighting our way through cumbersome forest. I fell in something that looked like chunky, poopy tar then was immediately smothered with mosquitos. If there was a hell, this would be it. It was pretty much like this if you can imagine, only with bugs galore, big packs, unwieldy bush and with NO smiles, laughter or thumbs up.... Alas, we made it to the road with relief. We decided the NFNWR was totally worth it. Gear Notes: Sneakers to 11,000 ft. Optional axe, crampons, rope/harness (only on a glacier for the very exit). Approach Notes: Bring a GPS, map/compass if the trail is still snow covered and you're not familiar with the area. BUG SPRAY!
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