Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Alaska Ice Climbing Festival

This year at the MCA Ice Climbing Festival in September, I learned about my friend Jayme's plans to host a winter Ice Climbing Festival in South Central Alaska. Jayme is a super cool climber chick who has been running the MCA Ice Festival for over 5 years, and does an awesome job coordinating all of the volunteers, gear and students on the Matanuska Glacier every September.

I have been looking for a side project to work on and wanted to get some more experience with web design (at work I mostly do back end coding and don't really design anything). So I offered to take on the website for the Alaska Ice Climbing Festival.

Most of October and the first half of November I have spent tweaking the design, working with my friend Dean, who created the graphics. Last night the site went live. Right now only the home page has content, but the design is finished, and we just need to fill in the details on the other pages.

Check it out... Alaska Ice Climbing Festival

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kid's Corner

I left with a group of four from Anchorage Friday morning to head out to Caribou Creek. We set out to climb Kid's corner from bottom to top. This is one of my favorite climbs that is set back inside a tight canyon. It was 2 degrees when we left the car around 11am.

The climb is a series of short pitches that fall down in between two rock walls. In between each pitch there are flat decks of ice that wind through the rock until you get to the base of the next pitch. It's a really beautiful place that inspired me to climb more in my first year of ice climbing.

You can only get there if you ice climb. I think that is what drew me to it. The first year I rapped in with a few friends and top roped a bit on one of the middle pitches. Last year Kim I went out with the intention of climbing up from the bottom but got shut down on the first pitch. It was a bit over our heads at the time. I went back later on the way back from Nebesna and climbed it with Jayme, but we only had time to do two pitches.

So this was my first time climbing from bottom to top. Dean led the first pitch, which is still a bit over my head when the ice is hard. Then we swung the lead back and forth until we got to the top. Carlene and Kari teamed up and climbed behind us. This was my first lead with a pack on and it turns out that after I started climbing I couldn't even feel it.

We climbed with our packs all the way to the top and then walked out on the trail just as the sun was setting. It was a perfect day.

Thanks to Dean for the photos...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beer climbs

Saturday Kim, Laura and I got out for our first waterfall climb of the season.

We proved to be a bit rusty and out of shape, but it was a good day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Good to know

I finally got enough energy to get out the door at 3pm today. Being my Friday off I had all kinds of plans for hiking or skiing all day in order to wear out my misbehaving dog, but when I woke up I was still feeling sick. So I hung around the house and read some books, took a few naps and cooked some soup.

At 3:30 I arrived at Upper Huffman trail head with the intention of riding my bike up the powerline trail. I didn't get very far before I had to push. It was just a bit too steep and a bit too soft for my little 2.3 tires to make it. But I knew the ride down would be fun so I continued to push my bike.

Niko kept disappearing into the bushes every few minutes every time racing out back to me to make sure I was there. By 4:45 the sun had started to set over the inlet so I decided I had pushed far enough. I stopped to take some pictures of the sunset and was crouching down behind my bike when Niko came tip-toeing out of the bushes next to me. He then pranced slowly down the trail with his ears back and tail between his legs.

That's odd I thought and continued to snap one more photo. At that moment I heard a loud roar coming from the bushes where Niko came out. He had pissed something off in there and he knew it. It was an unmistakable roar of a bear. I grabbed my bike and tried to slowly walk away while facing the bushes where the noise came from. I just wanted to get out of the immediate area without pissing it off further.

As soon as I was a safe distance from the area, I got on my bike and hauled ass down the Powerline Trail. I have never ridden my bike so fast, not even in a race. I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure I was not being chased. Niko was very obediently running in front of my bike and kept looking back to make sure I was there.

So I guess it is safe to say that the bears are not yet sleeping or whatever it is that they do at this time of year. I have heard rumors of a few black bears up on Hillside eating garbage, but this one really sounded like a brown bear. I can also say that I never want to hear that sound again.

Thinking back it was funny how Niko quietly exited the area. I suppose that is the best reaction he could have had.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You know what to do...

oops this comic changed and I can't find the new image...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween.

Nothing like a scavenger hunt in the dark on bikes in 5 degrees Farenheit. Leave it to Alaskans to party outside on Halloween. Brian, Laura and I tug along with the "Valley Trash" team and put in a win on the first annual Frigid Bits Halloween Scavenger Hunt. It's kind of hard to look slutty when it's 5 degrees out, so I'm not sure you can tell that the theme was white trash. I did my best. Oh yeah, and it's really hard to ride a bike when carrying twins. Lucky for me this was only a costume.