Trip Report
Climbing Ice in Alaska: Bridal Veil Falls, Keystone Greensteps, ... 2/16-23/13

by BMcC
Tuesday April 2, 2013 7:53pm
Met Harry, Stuart, and Cindi at the American Alpine Club gathering at Royal and Liz Robbin's cabin on Pinecrest Lake last fall and talked with them about Alaska. Harry and Cindy are the co-chairs for the Alaskan section of the AAC. Via our conversation, I learned that Harry had done the Cassin within a few years of when my brother Jim and I had climbed it, and that Stuart had done a new route named Full Circle on the north side of Foraker a few years after my failed attempt on the south side. They actively ice climb, are establishing new routes, and offered to show me around if I were to come up.

I had read about ice climbing in Alaska in Jeff Lowe's The Ice Experience (1979) and been inspired by it. In various American Alpine Journals, and Climbing, Rock and Ice, and other magazines, there were articles about new routes, Valdez ice routes (Bridal Veil Falls, Keystone Greensteps, Wowie Zowie, Hung Jury...) and ice fests hosted by the late Andrew Embeck (author of the Valdez guidebook Blue Ice and Black Gold). I knew I would have to go someday.

Jeff Lowe wrote, "Ahh! Alaska! For the ice climber Alaska has everything. From the long glacial and snow slog of the West Buttress of Denali (McKinley) to huge ice faces such as the north faces of Deborah and Hunter to incredible gully climbs in the Cathedral Spires to big winter falls around Valdez, the Portage Glacier, Juneau, and on and on. Alaska is an ice climbing paradise. Like everything in Alaska, the ice climbing there is on a grand scale. In terms of the amount of climbing and size and quality of the climbs, Alaska is second to none. Its potential has barely been scratched..."

Although, I had climbed a few times in the Alaska range in the months of April - July over the past three decades, I had yet to make a winter trip to get on Alaskan waterfall ice, until this February.

My wife has pointed out to me, as recently as today, that my biological clock is ticking and I should get on with it -- do the climbs and trips that I want to do while I still can.

Me to my dear wife: "Looks like these dates could work with the family calendar and your travel plans. What do you think?" She to me: "Go!"

Harry was my host and climbing partner. As Harry mentioned over dinner at his home after fetching me from the airport, much of the adventure in Alaskan ice climbing is in the getting there. The plan was to climb locally for a couple of days and then head to Valdez for some classics. BTW - we could not see Russia from his house.

What follows is a chronological series of pics of some of the places we went and our climbs. Enjoy!

Nice view of Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Adams before landing in Seattle.
Nice view of Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Adams before landing in Seattle.
Credit: BMcC

Mt. Rainier just prior to landing and changing planes - 2/15/13.
Mt. Rainier just prior to landing and changing planes - 2/15/13.
Credit: BMcC

Partial clearing revealing some Alaskan coastline - it had been cloudy...
Partial clearing revealing some Alaskan coastline - it had been cloudy from Washington's Puget Sound until almost to Anchorage ...
Credit: BMcC

Arrived in Anchorage to winter-like weather and... (see next pic)
Arrived in Anchorage to winter-like weather and... (see next pic)
Credit: BMcC

... wildlife.
... wildlife.
Credit: BMcC


After getting takeout coffee and some baked goodies in the town of Eagle River a few tens of minutes away, we headed onwards to Hunter Creek. The approach was to be the longest we would do on foot - a couple of miles and, we hoped, no snowshoes or skis required.

Cindi and Harry hiking on snow atop ice over Hunter Creek (2/16/13...
Cindi and Harry hiking on snow atop ice over Hunter Creek (2/16/13). They had cautioned me with me a story about a snow/ice bridge over a deep pool collapsing under a climber and immersing him to his neck...
Credit: BMcC

Sometimes the ice shelf on which we were hiking got a little narrow.
Sometimes the ice shelf on which we were hiking got a little narrow.
Credit: BMcC

Lost Chord (WI4 60m) - my 1st water ice lead in Alaska - fun! ...
Lost Chord (WI4 60m) - my 1st water ice lead in Alaska - fun! (pic taken by Cindi Squire - 2/16/13).
Credit: BMcC

Almost to the belay and, not too long after, to the sun (pic taken...
Almost to the belay and, not too long after, to the sun (pic taken by Cindi Squire - 2/16/13).
Credit: BMcC

After we rapped off The Lost Chord, we headed farther up the creek.

Some thoughts going through my mind: Why did I not wear my gaiters? Sh...
Some thoughts going through my mind: Why did I not wear my gaiters? Should I wade slowly or sprint? What if the water is more than ankle deep or the snow covered ice shelf collapses when I jump up on it? Cool trail, eh? A splashing sprint did it.
Credit: BMcC

Another chunk of our approach trail collapsed into its pool of mid-thigh-deep water after we hiked over it...

Behind the curtain.
Behind the curtain.
Credit: BMcC

Our next climbing destination farther up Hunter Creek was the Christma...
Our next climbing destination farther up Hunter Creek was the Christmas Amphitheatre - discovered Christmas eve, named, and developed by Harry and partner years ago - our route (Starbright WI4) tops out just left of the center of the picture.
Credit: BMcC

Harry belaying me on the last pitch of Starbright (left 3rd of pic...
Harry belaying me on the last pitch of Starbright (left 3rd of pic). 1st pitch goes up the ice in the foreground. Another climber (yellow jacket) is nearing the top of Big Blue (pic courtesy of Cindi Squire - 2/16/13
Credit: BMcC

Cindi Squire and Harry hiking out after a fine day of climbing...
Cindi Squire and Harry hiking out after a fine day of climbing up Hunter Creek. My 1st day and I had concluded that waterfall ice in Alaska was pretty darn good!
Credit: BMcC

Back at Harry's in Anchorage, we checked the weather forecast - stormy weather was to hit in 2 days which would complicate our 6-hr drive to Valdez. Solution? Head to Valdez a day earlier while the driving weather was still good.

On the drive to Valdez - 2/17/13.
On the drive to Valdez - 2/17/13.
Credit: BMcC

Roadside ice on the drive to Valdez - the Mantanuska Glacier - the lar...
Roadside ice on the drive to Valdez - the Mantanuska Glacier - the largest glacier (27 miles long and 4 miles wide) accessible by car in the United States.
Credit: BMcC

Took a break in our drive to Valdez to climb ice in a narrow side gull...
Took a break in our drive to Valdez to climb ice in a narrow side gully above Caribou Creek (near the Matanuska River).
Credit: BMcC

The 1st step of Kids Around the Corner (also called Kid's Corner).
The 1st step of Kids Around the Corner (also called Kid's Corner).
Credit: BMcC

Harry 3rd classing the 1st step. Several smaller steps and some hiking...
Harry 3rd classing the 1st step. Several smaller steps and some hiking led to the 2 longer "pitches" higher in the gully. Easy WI3.
Credit: BMcC

About 10 minutes of nicely-graded trail (an old miners trail?) delivered us back to the truck to continue our drive to Valdez.

Back on the road to Valdez and many miles of scenery like this.
Back on the road to Valdez and many miles of scenery like this.
Credit: BMcC

Got over the pass and down to Keystone Canyon shortly before sunset. Sunday of a 3-day holiday weekend and there were only 2 other climbing parties... the party that had just finished Keystone Greensteps were friends (John and Tanya) of Harry's from Anchorage and had come to Valdez for the weekend. John would catch up with us later in the week.

A party of 2 on Bridal Veil Falls (WI5 185m), outside of Valde...
A party of 2 on Bridal Veil Falls (WI5 185m), outside of Valdez - one of the routes we'd planned to climb while here.
Credit: BMcC

Early evening moon and Keystone Greensteps - the other mega-classic ro...
Early evening moon and Keystone Greensteps - the other mega-classic route which I wanted to climb (FA by Jeff Lowe and John Weiland in January 1976) - 2/17/13.
Credit: BMcC

Bridal Veil (our objective for 2/18/13, our 1st climbing day in Va...
Bridal Veil (our objective for 2/18/13, our 1st climbing day in Valdez), Simple Twist of Fate, and Keystone Greensteps (routes from left to right). Big ice and no crowd.
Credit: BMcC

My lead - 1st pitch of Bridal Veil Falls (pics courtesy of Harry H...
My lead - 1st pitch of Bridal Veil Falls (pics courtesy of Harry Hunt - 2/18/13).
Credit: BMcC

A bit higher (pic courtesy of Harry Hunt - 2/18/13).
A bit higher (pic courtesy of Harry Hunt - 2/18/13).
Credit: BMcC

The ice cave belay for the 1st pitch was ethereal.
The ice cave belay for the 1st pitch was ethereal.
Credit: BMcC

The ice cave was at least 60 or 70' across.

Water was splashing down the ice at the left side of the cave where I ...
Water was splashing down the ice at the left side of the cave where I had entered. Harry walked through the cave and moved our belay so we could climb out and up the dry side, Steep fun with good ice hiding under a layer of snow.
Credit: BMcC

Harry starting up the Killer Pillar (3rd) pitch.
Harry starting up the Killer Pillar (3rd) pitch.
Credit: BMcC

Harry moving up - Killer Pillar (3rd) pitch on Bridal Veil Falls.
Harry moving up - Killer Pillar (3rd) pitch on Bridal Veil Falls.
Credit: BMcC

Higher and ... some 25' or so above this point, the climb turned to st...
Higher and ... some 25' or so above this point, the climb turned to steep snow for the tens of feet to the belay/rappel trees. Fun pitch! Fun route!
Credit: BMcC

After Harry belayed me up the Killer Pillar, we rapped off and went touring to check conditions on other routes.

Looking across the Valdez Bay.
Looking across the Valdez Bay.
Credit: BMcC

Nothing much happening ice-wise around the bay. But no worries as we had planned on 2 more days in Valdez - we'd climb Keystone Greensteps on 1 of them and find another route in the pretty-reliable Bear Creek Canyon (Big Brother?) for our other day.

Took this night pic on our walk to dinner at Mike's Palace (1 of t...
Took this night pic on our walk to dinner at Mike's Palace (1 of the only open restaurants). Sign (a bit blurry): says they offer sea kayak tours, glacier hikes, and ice climbing - summer stuff. Heli-skiing is huge for Valdez and was soon to start up.
Credit: BMcC

If we were to need the Coast Guard, we knew where to find them and cou...
If we were to need the Coast Guard, we knew where to find them and could hit them with a snow ball. This Coast Guard Cutter was berthed outside our room at the Best Western Valdez Harbor Inn.
Credit: BMcC

The weather forecast for our 2nd day in the Valdez area called for snow and higher winds, so we modified our plans from climbing Keystone Greensteps in the wind-swept Keystone Canyon to ice climbs in the more sheltered Bear Creek Canyon.

Harry leading the way to Bear Creek Canyon (just beyond the bridge...
Harry leading the way to Bear Creek Canyon (just beyond the bridge). He brought a 2nd set of snow shoes and ski poles for me to use, so I did not need to bring mine from California.
Credit: BMcC

Bear Creek Canyon.
Bear Creek Canyon.
Credit: BMcC

Up the creek with no paddle.
Up the creek with no paddle.
Credit: BMcC

Big Brother (a bit more than halfway across this pic from the left...
Big Brother (a bit more than halfway across this pic from the left; WI5 95m) and Twisted Sister (not touching down; WI5 100m) were not in appealing condition. The approach is up the ramp from mid-height on the left. So we hiked back to Raincheck (WI4 90m)
Credit: BMcC

Harry leading the 1st pitch of Raincheck.
Harry leading the 1st pitch of Raincheck.
Credit: BMcC

Harry scoping out the finish on Raincheck and heading up just left of ...
Harry scoping out the finish on Raincheck and heading up just left of the alders to dig a trench through the snow capping the route. I had led the 2nd pitch and stopped before running out of rope and gear.
Credit: BMcC

On Wednesday-February 20, we headed back up the Richardson Highway to the Keystone Canyon with snow blowing across the road and Harry's truck buffeted by the wind... It had been almost calm up Bear Creek Canyon the day before. The 20th was our last full day before heading to Chickaloon (more on that later) and my last chance (on this trip) to climb Keystone Greensteps (WI5 200m).

Heading to Keystone Greensteps - a great day for a big climb.
Heading to Keystone Greensteps - a great day for a big climb.
Credit: BMcC

Hung Jury (WI4 55m) - it starts about halfway up this picture ...
Hung Jury (WI4 55m) - it starts about halfway up this picture and goes up through weird ice roofs, shelves, and columns. Wind sculpted. Just down canyon from Bridal Veil Falls and Keystone Greensteps. Reminiscent of Wicked Wanda in the Ghost River Valley.
Credit: BMcC

Our Wednesday-Feb20 destination coming into view - Keystone Greensteps...
Our Wednesday-Feb20 destination coming into view - Keystone Greensteps (on the right with Bridal Veil which we climbed on the 18th).
Credit: BMcC

Heading up (pic courtesy of Harry Hunt - 2/20/13)
Heading up (pic courtesy of Harry Hunt - 2/20/13)
Credit: BMcC

Harry cruising the 2nd pitch of Keystone Greensteps.
Harry cruising the 2nd pitch of Keystone Greensteps.
Credit: BMcC

Harry in the belay cave at the top of the 2nd pitch.
Harry in the belay cave at the top of the 2nd pitch.
Credit: BMcC

My lead - 3rd pitch of Keystone Greensteps.
My lead - 3rd pitch of Keystone Greensteps.
Credit: BMcC

Harry launching up the last pitch.
Harry launching up the last pitch.
Credit: BMcC

Looking down as I rappelled - the yellow truck far below is Harry's.
Looking down as I rappelled - the yellow truck far below is Harry's.
Credit: BMcC

Down off of Keystone Greensteps and into town just before sunset. Bridal Veil, Raincheck, and Keystone Greensteps. What a great trip and not over, yet, with 3 more days to climb before my Sunday flight home...

The Teton Inn sign says 29 degrees. Merely chilly, until you feel the ...
The Teton Inn sign says 29 degrees. Merely chilly, until you feel the wind...
Credit: BMcC

Glanced at the harbor on our way to our last supper in Valdez (nig...
Glanced at the harbor on our way to our last supper in Valdez (night pic).
Credit: BMcC

We took a break from our drive to Chickaloon on Thursday-21st to climb...
We took a break from our drive to Chickaloon on Thursday-21st to climb Falstaff (WI 4). My turn to lead (pic courtesy of Harry Hunt - 2/21/13).
Credit: BMcC

Did some laps once I had set the anchor... (pic courtesy of Harry ...
Did some laps once I had set the anchor... (pic courtesy of Harry Hunt - 2/21/13)
Credit: BMcC

Harry's turn.
Harry's turn.
Credit: BMcC

Back on the road to Chickaloon - moon and mountains.
Back on the road to Chickaloon - moon and mountains.
Credit: BMcC

Mt. Drum obscured by clouds.
Mt. Drum obscured by clouds.
Credit: BMcC

Nearing sunset.
Nearing sunset.
Credit: BMcC

Nearer yet to sunset. Note the road markers - not just posts on the ro...
Nearer yet to sunset. Note the road markers - not just posts on the road's edge, but extending (almost) overhead.
Credit: BMcC

Setting sun with the road snaking downhill before us.
Setting sun with the road snaking downhill before us.
Credit: BMcC

The plan for Friday was to snow mobile up the Chickaloon River for some remote ice.

Stuart's arrival at Harry's cabin in Chickaloon.
Stuart's arrival at Harry's cabin in Chickaloon.
Credit: BMcC

Credit: BMcC

Could be warmer...

Stuart brought Harry's and his snow mobiles from Anchorage. John broug...
Stuart brought Harry's and his snow mobiles from Anchorage. John brought a sled to carry our ice gear, a snow machine for himself, and one for me (woo hoo!). My 1st time.
Credit: BMcC

Getting ready - on the road below Harry's cabin.  No worries about blo...
Getting ready - on the road below Harry's cabin. No worries about blocking traffic, because we were it.
Credit: BMcC

Me, excited? Heck yeah - we're miles up the canyon and I haven't dumpe...
Me, excited? Heck yeah - we're miles up the canyon and I haven't dumped John's snow mobile with me on it into the Chickaloon River (pic courtesy of Stuart Parks with my camera - 2/22/13).
Credit: BMcC

I was thrilled that we were able to right and restart my ride (John's 2nd machine) on each of the several times I slipped off the track/trail and dumped it, and especially thrilled that I did not lose it and me in the river. Took me a while, but I learned that hitting the throttle got me through sketchy bits much better than trying to crawl through. Stuart and John gave me some essential advice that I stand on the uphill side of the snow machine and lean my weight far to the that side pulling on the handlebars to keep the snow machine upright on the sloping snow and ice shelf along the river...

Stuart heading back to determine why Harry was not with us.
Stuart heading back to determine why Harry was not with us.
Credit: BMcC

Harry had been following close behind me (when I had been able to take reduce my forward focus and hazard a backward glance) and several times helped me get my machine upright and out of deep snow. Note the narrowness of the shelf relative to the width of the snow mobile. Also, note the fracture in the ice shelf and sag in the ice and snow just ahead of Stuart. I found the stretches of riding like this to be extra exciting.

Stuart and Harry returning.
Stuart and Harry returning.
Credit: BMcC

I thought this stretch was narrow, but snuck by. Harry's machine was t...
I thought this stretch was narrow, but snuck by. Harry's machine was the widest and required a bit of tree trimming to get through.
Credit: BMcC

Rode more miles and then switched to snowshoes (John used skis) for a ways farther up the narrow boulder-strewn riverbed before arriving at this "cave" where we got out our ice tools and put our crampons on. We were going to get to the ice a bit late and left the rack behind, taking just a rap rope.

Gearing up.
Gearing up.
Credit: BMcC

Harry cruising some of the approach ice - up and left, as had John.
Harry cruising some of the approach ice - up and left, as had John.
Credit: BMcC

Stuart went up and right.  Fun ice to scramble up.
Stuart went up and right. Fun ice to scramble up.
Credit: BMcC

We've arrived.
We've arrived.
Credit: BMcC

Fractured, but has potential!
Fractured, but has potential!
Credit: BMcC

Harry.
Harry.
Credit: BMcC

Harry having fun.
Harry having fun.
Credit: BMcC

Harry heading up.
Harry heading up.
Credit: BMcC

Downclimbing.
Downclimbing.
Credit: BMcC

Stuart starting up the somewhat fractured, other curtain.
Stuart starting up the somewhat fractured, other curtain.
Credit: BMcC

And then there was an ice shaking, giant whoomph as the snow shelf und...
And then there was an ice shaking, giant whoomph as the snow shelf under John and Harry settled. Stuart quickly got down and off of his fractured curtain...
Credit: BMcC

Nice place for snacks and stories with no icicles dangling overhead.
Nice place for snacks and stories with no icicles dangling overhead.
Credit: BMcC

Some pretty cool icicles.
Some pretty cool icicles.
Credit: BMcC

An armory of swords of Damocles. Yay! or should I say, yikes?!
An armory of swords of Damocles. Yay! or should I say, yikes?!
Credit: BMcC

Back to the machines.
Back to the machines.
Credit: BMcC

Short windshield + branches extending across the trail = hobby tattoos...
Short windshield + branches extending across the trail = hobby tattoos across my nose... (goggles and sunglasses protected my eyes on the rides in and out, respectively, but not my nose...).
Credit: BMcC

Although tagged by some branches, I was pretty jazzed because I did not dump John's snow machine even 1x on the 15 miles or so ride back down canyon - much of it after dark.

Back at Harry's cabin to put snow mobiles back onto trailers, pack up ...
Back at Harry's cabin to put snow mobiles back onto trailers, pack up our stuff from the night before, head back to Anchorage, and prep our gear to climb ice in the Eklutna Canyon on Saturday-23rd - the last climbing day of my visit to Alaska.
Credit: BMcC

Packing necessitated beers for the others in Harry's cabin. I was already buzzing so much from the adrenaline of the 30-mile round trip snow machine ride, the ice we 3rd classed, and the ice we saw, that I waited until dimer for some Alaskan ale.

Caffeine and climbing go well together. Stopped briefly in the town of...
Caffeine and climbing go well together. Stopped briefly in the town of Eagle River on Saturday morning en route to the Eklutna Canyon.
Credit: BMcC

Jeff Lowe had it right when he wrote about Alaska being an ice climbin...
Jeff Lowe had it right when he wrote about Alaska being an ice climbing paradise.
Credit: BMcC

Shortly after our coffee stop, Harry and I headed into Eklutna Canyon....
Shortly after our coffee stop, Harry and I headed into Eklutna Canyon. The first ice up the canyon, Mad Dog, was open so we jumped on it. My lead.
Credit: BMcC

Hiking up canyon required navigating around and under (crawling so...
Hiking up canyon required navigating around and under (crawling sometimes) the alders. Also hiked extensively on snow over ice shelves with open water, too.
Credit: BMcC

Credit: BMcC

Harry leading Annie Greensprings.
Harry leading Annie Greensprings.
Credit: BMcC

Pole-assisted crossing. Keeping my crampons on helped, too.
Pole-assisted crossing. Keeping my crampons on helped, too.
Credit: BMcC

Excellent pizzas here and...
Excellent pizzas here and...
Credit: BMcC

... here. Both establishments are owned by the same partners. The Bear...
... here. Both establishments are owned by the same partners. The Bear Tooth includes a movie theatre where you can dine on more than just popcorn, licorice, and such.
Credit: BMcC

Toured the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet before my flight home on Su...
Toured the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet before my flight home on Sunday-24th.
Credit: BMcC

Didn't have time to play on this ice (probably more exciting for t...
Didn't have time to play on this ice (probably more exciting for the belayer standing next to the road, than the leader once up on the ice...). Some fun names: Roadside Attraction, The Beast, The Howling and Sudden Impact... strangely, no Road Kill.
Credit: BMcC

Onward.

More ice, but the angle of repose was all wrong and it was moving rapi...
More ice, but the angle of repose was all wrong and it was moving rapidly out to sea...
Credit: BMcC

Some info here on the incredible tidal bores in the Turnagain Arm: http://alaska.org/bore-tides.jsp

Headed inland briefly near Girdwood to look at additional ice climbs.
Headed inland briefly near Girdwood to look at additional ice climbs.
Credit: BMcC

Short approach and steep...
Short approach and steep...
Credit: BMcC

Got back to Anchorage with easily enough time for my flight. The trip was great thanks to Harry Hunt.

Summary:
Route info is available in AAJs, out-of-print books like Blue Ice and Black Gold and Fat City (below), and others.

Anchorage area guidebook.
Anchorage area guidebook.
Credit: BMcC

Info also online: http://www.alaskaiceclimbing.com/
http://ralphsclimbingblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/ice-pixies.html

As Harry had mentioned over dinner at his home my 1st night in Anchorage, much of the adventure in Alaskan ice climbing is in the getting there. And get there we did. We did some really fun climbs in a handful of areas with varying levels of approach adventure. Some climbs in some newly developed areas, in some older but still being developed areas, and did a couple of the uber classic Valdez ice routes (Bridal Veil Falls and Keystone Greensteps). A great trip made all the more so thanks to Harry (especially!) and also to my other new partners, Cindi, Stuart, and John.

Good bye, Alaska. I'll be back...
Good bye, Alaska. I'll be back...
Credit: BMcC

  Trip Report Views: 2,963
BMcC
About the Author
BMcC is a trad climber from Livermore.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Some Random Guy

climber
  Apr 2, 2013 - 08:05pm PT
Stuart starting up the somewhat fractured, other curtain.
Stuart starting up the somewhat fractured, other curtain.
Credit: BMcC
stuart is freakin' crazy! i wouldn't go near that thing.

nice climbs. thanks for the late icy inspiration.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Apr 2, 2013 - 08:08pm PT
SICK!!!
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Apr 2, 2013 - 08:14pm PT
Holy Moley...envy, major! Just spectacular!

Susan
Snowmassguy

Trad climber
Calirado
  Apr 2, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
WOW...great civilized adventure and great photo TR! Makes me want to climb ice when all I have been thinking about is sun and summer ! Agree with SRG, that pillar looks sketchy!!!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Apr 2, 2013 - 08:37pm PT
the Ice Man cometh and goeth...
great TR BMcC!
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Apr 3, 2013 - 07:04am PT
OHHHHH YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My old stomping grounds and HH.

Could be warmer? hehe Could be a lot colder too lol

That ole polar bear is still there?

Sunavabitch I'm jonesin. What we lack for rock we sure make up for in ice back home. Super appreciate this TR.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Apr 2, 2013 - 09:15pm PT
hey there say, BCcC...

CAN'T see all the fabulous pics, but can sure say:

thanks for the great alaska share!!!

:) nice job!!
em kn0t

Trad climber
isle of wyde
  Apr 2, 2013 - 10:52pm PT
Awesome TR! Especially love the photos of BridalVeil Falls and the ethereal ice cave belay. Respect!!
orle

climber
  Apr 3, 2013 - 04:20am PT
That was a great read!
JohnnyG

climber
  Apr 3, 2013 - 05:49am PT
sweet
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Apr 3, 2013 - 07:24am PT
Excellent adventure Bill!

Thanks for sharing.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Apr 3, 2013 - 07:49am PT
Thank you for sharing your adventure, put Bridal Veil on the list!

Smart man is one that listens to his wife! She is right telling you to get out. Not because your biologic clock is ticking, but because life is short in general. We have only so much time to get out and see these places we wanted to/do climbs that we dream of. Well done!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Apr 3, 2013 - 08:24am PT
Dayum,, Ya climbed everything!
pvalchev

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Apr 3, 2013 - 09:22am PT
Looks like an awesome adventure! Nice to have a local to sort out the logistics eh?
gnarlydog

Mountain climber
Concord,Ca
  Apr 3, 2013 - 09:29am PT
Killer TR. That pillar does look a little sketch. I probably would have flown off of that thing when I heard the snow pack collapse. Amazing photos and words Bill. Looks like the sledding experience was really fun too. Snow machine days are always interesting, but it looks like they got you to an awesome place.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Apr 3, 2013 - 10:09pm PT
Thanks everyone!

This trip worked out splendidly. I had an excellent partner/host with additional climbing/adventuring partners on several days!

Check out the smiles - are we having fun or what?!
Check out the smiles - are we having fun or what?!
Credit: BMcC

While more blue sky and more sun (of which we got a few minutes on the tops of The Lost Chord and Keystone Greensteps) would have been nice, we had no nasty storms, just normal winter-like weather: cold (but not too cold), windy, snowy, and overcast, and with lengthening days.

And, yes pvlachev, having a local (especially one as knowledgeable and energized as Harry) to sort out the logistics was excellent - and made it possible to climb something really fun every day.

rhyang

climber
SJC
  Apr 3, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Sweet ! Nice trip report Bill.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Apr 4, 2013 - 12:16pm PT
A few more pics of some of the recently discovered Chickaloon ice:

Harry getting down and Stuart contemplating the fractured features - 2...
Harry getting down and Stuart contemplating the fractured features - 2/22/13.
Credit: BMcC

More ice hidden above these pillars - 2/22/13.
More ice hidden above these pillars - 2/22/13.
Credit: BMcC

Harry being contemplative...
Harry being contemplative...
Credit: BMcC

Great setting for a picnic with friends...   2/22/13
Great setting for a picnic with friends... 2/22/13
Credit: BMcC

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 4, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
Stellar TR, Thanks!!!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Apr 4, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Makes me miss Alaska and Valdez!

Thanks a ton.

So beautiful.
Gagner

climber
Boulder
  Apr 4, 2013 - 06:45pm PT
Hey Bill - Awesome - looks like wicked fun...hope to see you soon.

Paul
FBaker

Trad climber
Concord, Ca
  Apr 4, 2013 - 07:13pm PT
Great trip report
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
  Apr 4, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
pic intensive=great!

Makes me miss Alaska.
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Apr 4, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
WOW.
The photos... the frozen water...

just... WOW.
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Apr 4, 2013 - 09:40pm PT
OH Gosh. I bet a lot of us lived and moved in/out of Alaska. This strangely reminded me of Goldstream Valley cabin life in Fairbanks and getting water in winter out at Fox? springs out on the Elliot. Except you saw a lot more liquid water.

And thanks for posting.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Apr 4, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
fractured features and cave behind look amazing!
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Apr 5, 2013 - 01:01pm PT
A few more ice cave and behind the curtain pics for your viewing pleasure:

Just inside the belay cave at the top of the 1st pitch of Bridal Veil ...
Just inside the belay cave at the top of the 1st pitch of Bridal Veil Falls - with water (airborne droplets visible) spraying down and splashing off of the ice - 2/18/13.
Credit: BMcC

Deeper behind Bridal Veil - 2/18/13.
Deeper behind Bridal Veil - 2/18/13.
Credit: BMcC

The ice cave at the end of the 1st pitch of Bridal Veil was many tens ...
The ice cave at the end of the 1st pitch of Bridal Veil was many tens of feet across - 2/18/13.
Credit: BMcC

The light and Harry at the end of the 'tunnel' - 2/18/13.
The light and Harry at the end of the 'tunnel' - 2/18/13.
Credit: BMcC

Harry in the belay cave at the end of the 2nd pitch of Keystone Greens...
Harry in the belay cave at the end of the 2nd pitch of Keystone Greensteps. This might be the cave in which Jeff Lowe and John Weiland spent New Years eve Dec. 1975 on their 2-day FA. With modern gear and technique the route takes less time - 2/20/13
Credit: BMcC

Harry rapping into the belay cave on Keystone Greensteps - 2/20/13.
Harry rapping into the belay cave on Keystone Greensteps - 2/20/13.
Credit: BMcC

BTW - though certainly not the best or most complete article on Jeff Lowe, here's a link to a little tribute article on him which mentions some of what he's done for climbing, especially pioneering ice climbing. Jim Donini's quote about Jeff referring to the era before there were distinctions like sport and trad: "He was an all-rounder—he did it all. Although at the time, it was just known as climbing."
http://xtremesport4u.com/extreme-sports-personalities/jeff-lowe-a-pioneer-of-ice-climbing-in-the-usa/
Ari

Trad climber
california
  Apr 25, 2013 - 11:03pm PT
So much climbing envy!!!!! I'm actually working as an ice climbing guide on the Matanuska this summer, I hope some of the other climbs are still good by the time I get there, looks epic!! I'll have to look into that guidebook
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
  Jul 16, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
BBST!
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go