Over The Hill Expeditions: Mt Sanford 2019

 

Mt Sanford From East
Mt Sanford’s East Face with the skiable Sheep Glacier route following the right skyline…

2019 marks the first year of trips by the newly formed Over The Hill Expeditions. This years objective, primarily to get the ball rolling, get to know one another, and become organised both as a team and entity, will be Alaska’s Mt Sanford, which is the 6th highest peak in Alaska and therefore the U.S.. We will be leaving Chistotina, Alaska via bush plane (Super Cub) to the foot of the Sheep Glacier at around 5500′ of elevation. The plan is to ski up, then down the 11’000′ feet of glacier bagging Sanford’s 16,237′ summit in the process. This years team will consist of Rich Page, Cameron Burns, Jeff Rodgers, and Linus Platt. Our ages range from 26 to 61 and we plan on being on the mountain for approximately 2 weeks starting the first week of May 2019. Cam Burns, a noted writer of climbing, skiing, and adventure, will be compiling a story of the trip for Senior Hiker Magazine, while Linus Platt will be shooting as many photographs and video he can muster to document the trip…

Stay tuned for upcoming updates and a full trip report in June!

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Kicking Horse Re-Visited

Winter is a great time of year for exploring local wilderness generally too out of reach during summer months. Some of the local watersheds and glacial valleys become severely overgrown with dense thickets of Alder and Devil’s Club, essentially turning these locations into Alaskan Jungles

I’ve been up the Kicking Horse River on several occasions during the  winter months in past years and this year is no exception… The Chilkat River is covered in anywhere from 4-10 inches of solid ice, making acces to the confluence of the Kicking Horse a simple matter. In summertime, a packraft or other vessel is neccesary to cross the raging highwater torrent. Not today; an easy (if slippery) stroll to the other side from 7 mile Haines Highway sees Angela and I snowshoeing up the Kicking Horse (also mostly frozen, making for easy travel) and all the way to the base of Mt Emmerich. 

One day before winter ends, I would like very much to ski or snowshoe all the way to the Garrison Glacier for an overnighter.

Today is an exemplary day; crystal clear blue skies, plenty of snow on the ground, and temps in the mid 20’s beckons a long day out. Once reaching the Sitka Spruce at the base of The Cathedrals and Mt Emmerich, we eat a snack, take in this special and not often visited place, and happily agree to come back for a closer look before the snow melts.

Kicking Horse Snowshoe-1
Frozen Chilkat
Kicking Horse Snowshoe-2
Mt Emmerich and The Cathedrals

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Kicking Horse Snowshoe-4
The Skeleton Forest

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Crystals

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Kicking Horse Snowshoe-8
Angela doing some “snowshoeing” across an open spot on the Kicking Horse River
Kicking Horse Snowshoe-9
Entering the upper valley

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The Cat’s Meow

Over The Hill Mr Natural II

 

Ok… the cat is out of the bag, as it were – Armed with a couple of friends, I’ll be heading to climb and ski Mt Sanford in May 2019. Sanford is the third highest volcano in Alaska, and the sixth highest peak in the United States at 16, 237′. We will be skiing up, and down the Sheep Glacier on it’s north side… This is the first time I’ve mentioned here on JRB, but there will be coming updates as the trip unfolds.

 

Working on a fun little logo for our team for this and future expeditions…

 

Stay tuned!

Kwatini Creek

An early winter stomp up in Northern BC at Kwatini Creek in search of skiable snow produces little snow but a great hike up Kwatini Canyon past the old cabin there and into the alpine… complete with a mountaineering finish. A perfect day marred only by me pretty much destroying my brand spanking new (first time wearing) Arcteryx bibs…😫😢

 

Northern BC Canyon-2
Grizz prints on the Haines highway near the BC border
Northern BC Canyon-3
The old cabin at Kwatini Creek
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Willow-whacking
Northern BC Canyon-4
Angela busts a sane move crossing in ice bridge sans crampons
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Ice is nice!
Northern BC Canyon-7
Ice blobules
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Angie bringing up the rear on the “mountaineering finish”
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Nearing the top of the gully leading to the sub-arctic plateau above

Northern BC Canyon

Yukon Gold

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn” – John Muir, 1901.
Golden Yukon-1
Klehini River near the AK/BC Border
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Ghost Forest
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Firefall Tundra and Swirling Mist
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Autumn Colors at Rainy Hollow BC
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Late Run Sockeye at Klukshu, Yukon
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Mush Lake Trail
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Autumn Colorizing and Yukon Mountains
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Yukon Gold
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Stoked to Be…
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Deep Forest
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A Serene and Peaceful Scenario…
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Glorious Yukon Light and Weather
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Fall Aspens…
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Razor Sharpness and Crisp Colors

7 Mile Saddle

It had been quite some time since I had been up on 7 Mile Saddle; the views of the Chilkat Range and glaciers, the Lynn Canal, Coast Range, and the craggy peaks NE of the upper Chilkoot River are catastrophically fantastic. The saddle itself, a series of alpine meadows interspersed with bouts of tundra and stunted Mountain Hemlock and Spruce. The summit of Peak 3920 lie just above, and all within a couple hours hike from the Haines Highway. The stomp up to the saddle although only about three miles, but gains over 2800 feet in that short distance, meaning it is a very steep stomp indeed. Having only weekends to utilize these days, and wanting to maximize my training for the upcoming Sanford Expedition, I decide that a fast overnighter to 7 Mile is in order; I’ve never camped up there before, but had always wanted to, so I load up the pack with the intention of not going light, but instead loading it up rather stoutly for “training” purposes. Camera gear, tripod, lenses, binoculars, more food than I could possibly eat, and a bit of wine to enjoy the alpenglow with.

The weather is nothing short of spectacular on this mid September day; a time in Haines that generally exhibits pouring rain and temps in the mid 30’s, producing brutal conditions. Not today – the sun is out and the sky is serene. I stomp up to 7 mile with the relatively heavy pack, stopping often to take in the views and use the camera. Once on top, a fine camp is found amongst the tundra overlooking the commanding Chilkat Range, with the sun setting and the glow becoming me. The temperature drops and supper is prepared as darkness envelops the landscape; soon I am in my down cocoon, eye lids glued shut, and generating Z’s. In the morning dawn, the temperature is hovering around 20 degrees F and I am up firing the stove for water and coffee. The early light splattering the glaciers on the other side of the Chilkat Vally is awe-inspiring and soon I am packed and dashing down the trail… Back to the truck by 8:30 am, the sun is shining brightly once again, promising another rare Autumn day of golden

7 Mile Overnighter-2
Looking out to the snout of the Garrison Glacier…
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Mt Selby, The Coast Range, and the Chilkat Peninsula…
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A view out to Chilkoot country…
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Hyperlight, hyper-real…
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Mt Emmerich looming behind camp…
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The vast and complex Takhinsha Range…

7 Mile Overnighter-8

7 Mile Overnighter-9
Proof that I am in fact an old schooler…
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Chilkat River, Kicking Horse River, and Mt Emmerich prominent…
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Morning light…
7 Mile Overnighter
The Chilkat Estuary and Lynn Canal beyond…

Kelsall Lake

Looking for a bit of fun and adventure finds Angela and I heading north out of town and up into the high country to parts unknown. We packed the truck with bicycles, packrafts, hiking paraphernalia and some snacks. About halfway up Marinka’s Hill, we stop to gawk at the Northern Takhinsha/Southern Alsek’s baring their blue and stoney ice in the spectacular late summer light. I have never seen these peaks so devoid of the previous winter’s snow. The result is visually striking; the glaciers are on full display and the rocky summits piercing the deep blue hue above. Once past Three Guardsmen, it is decided a paddle across the mystical Kelsall Lake is in order, and soon we are bouncing the truck down the 4WD track to it’s shores.

Once in the water, a pleasant paddle two or three miles to the inlet stream that feeds the lake comes around and we stop for lunch and a swim on the sandy beach below the glacier of Kelsall Peak. Back in the boats, a great wind swells up and we fight the lateral rollers all the way back to the truck and happily scurry back over The Pass and head back home.

Kelsall Lake-1
Takhinsh/Alsek Range
Kelsall Lake-2
Bare Ice
Kelsall Lake-3
Happy To Call This Place My Home…
Kelsall Lake-4
Mountain Hemlock

Kelsall Lake-5

Kelsall Lake-6
Getting Boats Prepped
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The Enchanting Kelsall Lake
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Kelsall Peak and Glacier

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Angela Fires Down A Burrito

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Brrrrr…