Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:40AM
The north face of Ptarmigan Peak is Anchorage's backyard alpine crag. Carl Tobin, Alaska's living legend of alpinism, has probably spent more hours on Ptarmigan than in his own bed. The approach is three miles up the Powerline Trail from Glen Alps. Last week, Joshua Foreman and I fat biked in, riding on the lumpy crust in calm darkness. We chose Left Ski Track, a nine-pitch route Joshua climbed in fat conditions in November.
Joshua racking up at the base of the Left Ski Track, a third of the way up the S-Couloir.
Joshua leading the first pitch of premium Chugach Crud.
Into the good stuff on pitch three: styro ice, turf and verglas. See a topo of Ptarmigan's North Face on Eddie Phay's site.
A Spectre beat into frozen turf. The best use of ice pitons.
A short step protected by equalized stubbies.
Joe leading a beautiful mixed pitch of rock, styro ice and old November ice.
Joshua stoked for the crux pitch. It looks like WI3 from the belay...
...but it's dead vertical and thin. A climber decked off it the week before. That other smear of ice is the Right Ski Track.
Joshua proudly wearing his Un-Vest–the sleeves a puffy coat retro-fitted with a keeper cord and shoulder drawstrings. It keeps his arms warm and his body from swamping out.
Eighth and penultimate pitch. No wind, 25 degrees, perfect ice and a great partner. Do the mountains get any better?
Walking to the summit while looking at Anchorage's playground: the Western Chugach. Alaska Pacific University students Simon and Karina followed close behind.
On the other side of Ptarmigan we saw the Kenai Mountains emerge from a fog-filled Turnagain Arm. Thanks for an incredible day Joshua! Much better than sobbing in our PBRs about the bony ski conditions.