April 28, 2010

Season of Summits

Three for three

(stopping atop the OBrien Icefall on a perfect 10 evening)

Kicked steps only 4 days after 100 mile ski up Triangle
Single pushed in a quick 12 hours up Item
Improvised ice tools employed to get up Black Cap.

My 2010 mountaineering season, while short, was a blast and a year of reaching out to farther limits. A year of unique experiences on each mountain adventure. Never have I kicked steps from top to bottom of Triangle. It was exhilarating to lead a class of newbies one step at a time.

(kicking steps up steep summit ridge of Triangle)

My first "alpine" style ascent up Item Peak left me tapping the vein of the addiction going fast and light can lead to. As winds pounded on myself and Max relentlessly, we moved quick and strong. Side sloping exposed rocks while wearing crampons didn't ravage my ankle as feared. Roped together in winds so strong the rope was held in the air, we were treated with unique views of the Jarvis Glacier and an intermittent glimpse at Silvertip.

(the wind on Item accompanied us every second of the day)

Never have I successfully seen what lies above the OBrien Icefall. Paradise lies there, but don't tell anyone. Black Cap, 9800 ft, by far has been my greatest climb in the Delta Range. A group that has never climbed together before moved quickly and efficiently. A weather pattern held. Crust did not sog. A can-do attitude pushed us on, despite challenging terrain and lack of proper gear. Using pickets as ice tools, carabiner belay devices, ice bollards for rappelling, we graced the top of Black Cap and witnessed views of the Deltas only dreamed of before. Endless daylight and a stable snowpack made for a glorious descent. Views of the Wrangells were had. A magical weekend that will stay with me for many months to come.

(rapping off an ice bollard on the descent of Black Cap)

It is with sweet bitter that I bid the Deltas an "adieu" for 2010. I now set my sights on enjoying my first summer in Alaska below the Arctic Circle. Basil gardens, bike rides, training runs up Moose Mtn, and a sub 4 hr Equinox are among my new aspirations.

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