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Tuesday
May292012

Central Talkeetna Mtns

As Paul said, "Any trip that starts with a helicopter is a bad-ass trip." This trip did not disappoint. 

Most people overlook the Talkeetna Mountains in favor of the surrounding Chugach and Alaska Range. But if your objective is adventure, then it's wise to seek out overlooked mountains such as the Talkeenta Mountains. On this trip Glenn, James, Paul and I selected a base camp location from the air, landed and proceeded to climb ten mountains over nine days. This is quintessential Alaska-style: if you're flexible, then great things will happen. We had challenging and exposed climbing, complete solitude, amazing weather, a first-class base camp and great friendship. 

To my left are Glenn Wilson from Tulsa Oklahoma, Paul Muscat from Portland Maine and James Kesterson from Raleigh North Carolina. In various team configurations we've been to Denali, Mount Marcus Baker, Mount LoganIliamna Volcano, the Arctic Refuge, Mount Bona, Mount Baker and the Ecuador Volcanoes. These guys like serious adventure. 

Dave King of Last Frontier Air Ventures dropped us on the Sheep River Glacier. The pointy peak in this photo we climbed and called Little America, after the truck stop near Cheyenne where they probably deal ThermoServs. Our trip had a ThermoServ theme after Glenn's passion for the revolutionary base camp mug. 

 

Dave driving home in his AStar B2. A stripped-down B3 landed on the summit of Everest. We climbed these peaks: the West Gully on White Knight (8450'), QuikTrip (7700+') and Daylight Donuts (7800+'). 

 

Booting up the south side of QuikTrip.

 

Day three, high on Aladdin (8500+'). 

 

Descending from the summit of White Knight (8450') back into the West Gully. Crevasses near Glenn in the orange helmet almost stopped us. White Knight (perhaps White Castle, as in Harold and Kumar go to..., would be a more appropriate name) was first climbed by the northeast ridge in 1995 by Tom Choate, Mark Miraglia and Ken Zafren. 

 

An hour after climbing White Castle, back at camp, conducting après climb. 

 

This was our first base camp climbing trip together. We brought a Hilleberg Atlas 6 base camp tent that we slept, ate and hung in. The Atlas 6 is the single most impressive piece of gear I have ever used. 

 

Glenn, still in the scratcher, taking a full ThermoServ 521 (Eeffoc Java edition) of mud. Later, we decided that base camp climbing was making us soft. We left the base camp luxuries for a light high camp north of our base camp. 

 

Our goal for the high camp was a supposedly unclimbed mountain. Only one of our summits had a recorded ascent, but this is Alaska, so you never know. For summit geeks, it's only a "mountain" if it has 300 meters or more in vertical prominence from surrounding peaks. 

 

On the summit of Eeffoc Java (8000+'). I built a cairn of snow. 

 

Down climbing an icy chute on our way back to base camp. 

 

Back at base camp Paul says "Smooooooth," in a raspy voice as he passes the bourbon to James. 

 

Glenn and James on the summit of the Gerbil's Tooth, midway through our last three-summits-in-a-day climbing spree.  

 

The Gerbils Tooth. Near the summit was a large steaming hole where the Gerbil lived. The other side was a decomposing 1000-foot wall of plaque. 

 



Dining at the 24-7 Palmer Hotel on the drive back to Anchorage. Although I am passionate about exploring mountains around the world, I've learned that mountains are just mountains. For me, what truly makes a trip are the people. Thank you so much guys! I can't wait until the next instalment! (We have big plans).