“And so I tell myself again: I am here because in the landscape of each and every human imagination lies one special place. Our inner compass keeps pointing us toward this spot, which is magnetic, mysterious, exotic and alluring but, alas, always fringed by a frontier of our fears. Still, it is to this specific place that we are compelled to travel in order to know ourselves and, in doing so, call our lives complete.” ~ Alvah Simon

Welcome to the Chugach

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Now for a snowboarding story…

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Out with Gareth, Reese and Laurie. March 2nd and first winter camping trip of the year. On the way in, I was giving Gareth shit about his backpack, saying it was bigger than his girlfriend.

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After they dug in a spot for their tent and I laid my bivy sac on the snow, we went up for a little twilight pow slashin.

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The next day, the packs were light and the sun was out.

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We split up, dividing the group in half. Two people per chute.

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Every time I would stop looking at my feet and turn around to see the new landscape vertical gain had revealed to me, I was reminded that I constantly seem to find stunning formations of mountain that I could never have conjured up in my wildest of dreams. Only by poking your head around that unknown corner can you fill your mind with our planet’s wonders and create your own mental map of the world and what is possible for you. After all, the nature of every individual is just an accumulation of their own experience. Make your own reality in the mountains.

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So crispy out, you could see all the way out to Sanford and Wrangell of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park…. the largest piece of untouched wilderness on the planet.

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Strap er in! Yeww!

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Reese had ridden this line before and let me get first tracks on the mini spine rollover speed line up top… Thats was really fun. Thanks Reese!

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Shall we do another?

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This time, we each chose our own line. Gettin a bit steep here!

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It eventually turned to shallow snow over sharp rocks so I strapped er in where the turnin was good.

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Very nice.

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The next day, we split up again and utilized our established booters… thought we’d see what’s lurkin on the other side of the iguana’s back.

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Through the secret passage

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Does it go? Hmm not sure. Better send Gareth first.

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Oh hey there he is. It must go.

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A few minutes later, we were on the move again. That wall in the background looked ripe for pink pow. Who are we to pass it up?

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Meet the locals… Gareth Brown, Spencer B, Reese Doyle and Laurie Heckman. Spencer showed up at camp the previous night after skinning up in the dark with directions left on his windshield. Lucky for us… he just so happened to haul up a big bottle of whiskey, a medium bottle of whiskey and a flask of whiskey along with a 12 pack of PBR. Good on ya buddy.

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You can break trail now.

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It’s tough to keep up with the pace of these guys. They skin really fast too.

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Oh yeeuh it’s gunna be good.

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Really good.

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Party boardin pink pow! Wheeww!!

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Then miles of shreddin back to camp in the twilight.

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And just like that… Right after I took this photo, the winds came through and destroyed all of the glorious pow. It’s not about when it snowed last; it’s about when it blowed last. But that’s the beauty of ice climbing. It’s usually pretty good when the snow is pretty bad.

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The transition is easier than you’d think.

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 Cody Booth

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But also in the fall and early winter, when the snowpack is building, the ice can be at it’s finest.

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 Travis McAlpine

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 James Gustafson

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 John Giraldo

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On the first ascent of a new 3rd pitch variation to a Chugach alpine classic. This corner went at M5-M6.

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 Dustin Fric

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October is known for the foliage…

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but the early season high country can be just as beautiful

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Nothing beats the spring though! The following is from a day out with the Provo Bros (pictured above) and Pep Fujas. One borrowed beater sled and four guys. A few hours later, we had the verts on.

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And to cap it off, they were thanking ME for shooting that day and brought me out for beers and burgers. Such good dudes. They clearly don’t know how much I love gettin the shot.

Now to finish off this post… Some more Chugach glory…

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“All hope lies in one’s opennes to experience and ability to change.” ~ Alvah Simon

Next up… Chapter II: The Tordrillos