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John Frieh

best of cc.com [TR] Alaska - The Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier 4/25/2009

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Trip: Alaska - The Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier

 

Date: 4/25/2009

 

Trip Report:

Summary:

 

April 23: PDX -> SEA -> ANC -> Talkeetna.

April 24: Spent most of the day waiting to fly (weather); Paul/TAT flew us to the Ruth camp late in the day (~7 pm).

April 25: Toured up glacier/scoped routes. Started snowing around lunch. Snowed through the night and most of the next day.

April 26: Snow stopped in the morning. ~1' of new snow when it was all said and done!

April 27: Mix of sun and clouds for the day. Toured down to scope The Escalator on Mt Johnson

April 28: Climbed The Escalator on Mt Johnson

April 29: Rest day

April 30: Climbed Wake Up on Mt Wake

May 1: Picked up by TAT/returned to Talkeetna. (:brew:)^3 and (:chebit:)^2

May 2: Talkeetna -> Urgent care -> ANC -> SEA -> PDX

 

left to right: Mt Johnson and Mt Wake

johnson_wake.JPG

 

Details/Pics:

 

I've put this trip off way to long. For the past few years running I've attempted to put a trip together only to have work or something else squash my plans.

 

This year was looking like that... the best I could do was a little over a week off and the list of people willing to gamble the money on a week trip to the gorge was very short. I dont blame them... the odds of spending the week eating, sleeping and shoveling out the tent were good.

 

I managed to find someone willing to take the gamble and met Doug for the first time in the SEA airport. We were in Talkeetna Thursday evening. Friday was a mixed bag of rain, snow and mostly dense fog/clouds... I was skeptical we'd be able to fly but Paul managed to find a window in the system and get us in Friday evening right before the next storm arrived. :tup:

 

Fly TAT or plan on spending a few extra days in Talkeetna

otter_land.JPG

 

Saturday morning started out as mixed clouds and sun so Doug and I + Team Harro (who were also in the gorge but looking at some different routes) toured up the glacier to scope the approach to the Root Canal as we'd heard Stirred was in very nice.

 

Shall we go see?

moose_tooth.JPG

 

Saturday tour

first_day_tour.JPG

 

By the time we got back to camp the weather had taken a turn for the worse... it snowed through the night and most of Sunday.

 

Common occurrence on Sunday

day_2_snow.JPG

 

When the storm was all said and done Monday morning ~1 foot had fallen so we let everything shed and settle on Monday.

 

Post storm: Avy on Bradley

brad_avy.JPG

 

We headed down the glacier on Monday while things settled and shed to scope out The Escalator on Mt Johnson

 

The Escalator on Mt Johnson

johnson_overview.JPG

 

On Tuesday we got an alpine start and climbed the The Escalator on Mt Johnson.

 

The Escalator starts with ~3 pitches of WI3/snice which we simulclimbed.

johnson_start.JPG

 

johnson_doug_ice.JPG

 

johnson_doug_ice_big.JPG

 

Following the initial ice step is a long snow field that lead to the upper runnels (see route pic above).

 

The snowfield

johnson_snowfield.JPG

 

Start of the runnels

johnson_enter_runnel.JPG

 

The runnels had it all: soft snow (technical wallowing!), neve, the occasional alpine ice/snice and of course powder over rock. Good times.

 

Hot runnel action

johnson_runnel.JPG

 

As the mountains were still shedding the recent snowfall we had to deal with the semi regular wet sluff.

 

Shower time for John

johnson_crux_avy.JPG

 

Doug holding his rope out of a slide :crazy::laf:

johnson_doug_avy.JPG

 

The runnel ended on the summit ridge which we followed to the top.

 

Where's John?

johnson_ridge.JPG

 

johnson_cobra.JPG

 

The ridge had a few rock steps

johnson_rock_step.JPG

 

johnson_rock_step_2.JPG

 

We stopped just short of the true summit which is actually a cornice that at the time overhung the north face... a few days prior to our ascent a Polish dude had cracked part of it off as he attempted to stand on the "very top" and had to jump to safety as the "summit" at that time fell down the north face!!! :shock::sick:

 

The standard descent is to the Johnson/Grosvenor col and down via downclimbing + some raps. Definately rated on the jingus scale.

 

Please dont squish me

johnson_down.JPG

 

We found The Escalator to be extremely moderate (WI3, 5.5, snow!) and long (at least by Cascade standards... 4000'+ !!!) but would have a hard time recommending it to someone unless it was cold temps and they understood the descent has some healthy objective hazards. Still... a great route! I guess we were the 7th (???) or so ascent of the route (3 of those in 2009).

 

Wednesday was a rest day... we spent the day napping, eating and drying stuff out.

 

Wednesday Yard Sale

dry_out.JPG

 

Wednesday views from camp (l-> r): Church, Johnson, Wake, Bradley :tup:

day_3_view.JPG

 

Thursday we headed back down the glacier again for a swing at Wake Up on Mt Wake.

 

Wake Up follows the obvious gully on the right hand side of the face to the ridge and then the summit

***Note the monster hanger above the North face. This will be of interest later in this TR***

wake_overview.JPG

 

Though we overslept our alarm by an hour (route name irony?) we still managed to start the route fairly early.

 

Start of the route. Note hanger again.

wake_first_pitch.JPG

 

Lower portion of the route

wake_lower.JPG

 

Approximately 1/3 or so up the route the above mentioned hanger released.

 

Before (note glacier floor)

wake_blast_before.JPG

 

After. I wonder if I still have skis?

wake_blast_after.JPG

 

Some video taken just after the the above pics were taken

[video:youtube]

 

We kept rolling (as once on the route you arent under the hanger) and soon reached the supposed WI5 crux.

 

Mid crux which was awesome flutings and a little wet

wake_crux_john.JPG

 

Looking down the crux

wake_crux.JPG

 

We found the crux to be maybe WI4 (Cody 3+ :laf:) and very enjoyable.

 

From there the route dogs right towards the summit ridge. You work you way through snow mushrooms and gargoyles.

 

To The Top!

wake_doug_mushrooms.JPG

 

Awesome terrain

wake_doug_mushrooms_close.JPG

 

Looking back down

wake_mushrooms.JPG

 

Much to our enjoyment the ice continued! :rawk:

wake_cobra.JPG

 

wake_doug_foot.JPG

 

We worked our way through more mushrooms and a few short rocks steps

 

Rock step

wake_rock_step.JPG

 

Mushroom negotiations

wake_step_across.JPG

 

Ice is nice

wake_john.JPG

 

We found a way to gain the ridge with minimal cornice tunneling

 

Gaining the ridge

wake_ridge.JPG

 

It was nice to be back in the sun!

 

Sunshine!

wake_yard_sale.JPG

 

Faced with the earlier avy and the fact that we knew our descent sported a similar cornice we opted to not continue to the summit (weak) and head for the descent couloir before it got any more sun.

 

Wild nice views on the descent

[video:youtube]

 

We did one rap on the way to the descent couloiur and one more to get into it.

 

wake_rap_1.JPG

 

wake_rap_2.JPG

 

We bombed down the couloir as quickly and safely as possible and began the search for our skis.

 

We were in luck! Though scattered they were intact!

 

These were originally standing up next to each other

wake_ski_scatter_circle.JPG

 

Doug found his crampon and ice screw bags approximately 1/4 mile down the glacier! :noway:

 

Evening commute home

john_evening_commute.JPG

 

We found Wake Up though not as moderate or long as The Escalator still fairly tame (WI4, 5.8) and we both greatly enjoyed it.

 

Our CAN friends Damien and Jimmy attempted the same route the next day and as they were racking up @ 2:30 am the same hanger released again! They ran for safety and though they were both pelted were not injuried! :noway:

 

We all flew out on Friday and after an unpack/dry out/repack session proceeded to :chebit: and :brew: (some more than others).

 

Saturday we headed south to ANC minus a quick stop @ intensive care... one of the CANs managed alcohol poisoning after the previous night's festivities... I guess that's what happens when you go switch from kokanee to PBR :laf::grlaf:;)

 

Shameless Plugs: This trip wouldnt have happened or went as well as it did if it wasn't for:

 

- Doug for taking a chance and going on a bigger trip with someone he had never met before. Thanks for a great trip dude! :tup: :tup:

- Mark Westman/Joe Puryear/Marcus Donaldson/Roger Strong for answering all my beta/route/gear questions :tup:

- Team Harro for the Mid and Stove boards and Talkeetna shuttle service :tup:

- Kurt Hicks for hooking up a ride to ANC :tup:

- Team Good Times (the CANs) for the ride back to ANC. You fuckers can party like god damn rock stars! :rawk:

- Jared (CO) and Tim (all over) for all the great beta and warm wine (It goes straight to your head!)

 

And most importantly I am deeply indebted to both Rob Shaul/Mountain Athlete and Mark Twight/the Gym Jones staff (Rob and Lisa) for providing me both the tools and motivation to make this trip a success (at least in my eyes it was).

 

Due to a house remodel at the start of this year I had only touched an ice tool twice and had been in the rock gym maybe five times or so leading up to this trip. Regardless of this thanks to their programming design advice and insight I was still able to make 2 routes happen in the 4 climbing days we had during our short trip.

 

Many, many thanks.

 

[soapbox]I find it comical that climbers will gladly drop $$$ on new gear (that they only end up selling a few years later when something "better" comes out) but refuse to spend any $ on a training seminar... something they will "own" the rest of their life and will only improve/enhance their climbing. Go figure.[/soapbox]

 

Until next year :brew:

 

Gear Notes:

Peanut butter quesadillas! :chebit:

johnson_power_food.JPG

 

Approach Notes:

TAT sucka!

harro_otter.JPG

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word.

 

:rocken:

 

John doesn't give himself enough credit. This trip wouldn't of ever happened without him and I had a really good time. Even if he did abandon me at the Fairview our last night there...or something like that. There was a lot of :brew: and :rawk: going on with the locals.

Edited by Doug Shepherd

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Is TAT flying a turbo Otter now? Seems like the planes keep gettin bigger and bigger. When I first went to the Alaska Range they were flying Cessna 182s and 187s. The last time Beavers. Now Otters. Oh yeah, nice work, great pics! Way to throw down.

Edited by danielpatricksmith

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The have one turbo Otter and another one in the garage they are fixing up!

 

The Otter is a badass plane, that thing definitely rocks it out.

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congrats, esse.

 

don't know how i missed the er in talkeetna either - i don't recall anything of the last 2 days i spent in that town - i vaguely recall nearly urking on jim bridwell's dog in the park though while desperately trying to hold my west rib burger down after a morphine chaser!

 

that 2nd pic is b'dass!

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Way to GO get some round eye, and not get chopped :)

It's a good start!

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"I find it comical that climbers will gladly drop $$$ on new gear (that they only end up selling a few years later when something "better" comes out) but refuse to spend any $ on a training seminar... something they will "own" the rest of their life and will only improve/enhance their climbing. Go figure."

 

Just because these "seminars" work for you and your lifestyle / training strategy, it doesn't mean it works for others. I think it's quite arrogant that you feel the need to repeatedly push this "product" on everyone else.

 

That said, nice work in the Ruth. Those look like some fun routes. I'm glad you guys had good weather and didn't get squashed by the falling hanger.

 

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Right on, rockah...way to represent!!! 8000ft of AK in 72hrs is pretty big britches by any measure...

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"I find it comical that climbers will gladly drop $$$ on new gear (that they only end up selling a few years later when something "better" comes out) but refuse to spend any $ on a training seminar... something they will "own" the rest of their life and will only improve/enhance their climbing. Go figure."

 

Just because these "seminars" work for you and your lifestyle / training strategy, it doesn't mean it works for others. I think it's quite arrogant that you feel the need to repeatedly push this "product" on everyone else.

 

That said, nice work in the Ruth. Those look like some fun routes. I'm glad you guys had good weather and didn't get squashed by the falling hanger.

 

it's all good, pete h, john is just pimpin' his shit like any other true believer. with a little love and nurturing he'll turn out all right in the end.

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This may be as awesome as it ever gets John! Hot damn, thank you so much for sharing it. AWE-FRIGGAN-SOME!

 

Very very much!

 

 

Where's Dan and Elises TR?

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Holy Fuck! That is the dopest shit I've ever seen. Talk about stoke. Way to go and the pics are fuckin brilliant.

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John, that looks so completely beautiful and awesome. I am inspired. Adding Alaska to my dreams list. ps. You ski now???

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