Blog

10 Reasons to Ski Chile’s Volcanoes

Tyler Reid - June 30, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

chile20

  1. Aesthetic Lines. The ski descents themselves are even more impressive than the summits.
  2. The Country. Chile is a land of otherworldly landscapes, interesting culture, and incredibly friendly people.
  3. The Corn. There’s something about Southern Hemisphere corn that’s extra buttery (corn snow that is).
  4. Light Backpacks. Most international expeditions involve hauling heavy loads. Not really the case on this trip. Three out of four of these peaks we ski with day packs.
  5. The Proximity. The relative spacing of these four mountains could not be more perfect. Less car time, more skiing.
  6. 4 Volcanoes in 10 Days. Many expeditions are lucky to climb one mountain in 10 days.
  7. Young Volcanoes. Villarica’s summit crater is a boiling cauldron. Llaima last erupted in…2009!
  8. Araucarias (Monkey Puzzle Trees). Combined with the volcanic lunar landscapes, these add to the prehistoric nature of the subalpine landscapes, and you get the sensation you might run into dinosaurs at any moment.
  9. Pisco Sours. The perfect cap on any ski day.
  10. The Timing. September is an amazing time to be skiing, and a healthy dose does wonders for your patience level, awaiting the Northern Hemisphere winter.

We still have a few spots left on our Sept 20-Oct 1, 2014 program. Learn more here: Chile Volcanoes Ski Mountaineering Expedition

Solstice North Ridge of Mt. Baker Climb

Pacific Alpine Guides - June 24, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Alpine start on the North Ridge of Mt. Baker

Guides Elías De Andrés Martos and Tyler Reid, along with climbers Bruce, Carey, Bill, and Tony climbed the North Ridge of Mt. Baker over the Solstice weekend. Here are a few of their photos:

North Ridge of Mt. Baker climbing school, with guide Elias de Andres Martos

Climbing the Hourglass on the North Ridge of Mt. Baker

Climbing the Hourglass on the North Ridge of Mt. Baker

Guided Mt. Baker North Ridge climb

NRidge2-1

Climbing the ice lobe on the North Ridge of Mt. Baker

Guided climb of the North Ridge of Mt. Baker

Guided climb of the North Ridge of Mt. Baker

View from the summit of Mt. Baker

 

 

 

 

Mt. Johnson, NW Couloir & Mt. Deception, NE Chute Ski Descents

Tyler Reid - June 2, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Mt. Johnson (The Needles) NW Couloir Ski Descent, Royal Basin, Olympic National Park

The NW Couloir on Mt. Johnson in The Needles first caught my eye three years ago from the Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park Traverse. With the level of certainty that a distant grainy photo has to offer, combined with a rapidly melting snowpack, expectations were low. My better half thought she might be getting sick on the approach which was confirmed by the next morning. So she kept it chill.

Ski Touring in Royal Basin, Olympic National Park

Katy, keeping it chill.

It’s about an 800′ descent off the back of the col at the head of Surprise Basin, and a quick skin around the corner puts you at the base of the line. Looking up from the bottom it didn’t look obvious. Snow conditions were firm and aluminum crampons and a piolet were quite handy.

Mt. Johnson (The Needles) NW Couloir Ski Descent, Olympic National Park

Looking up from the bottom; not exactly obvious.

Lots of front pointing later I was at the top of this amazing 1,200′ foot line. Two short sections would require down climbing due to a rapidly melting snowpack, but not much more coverage is needed for it to go cleanly.

Mt. Johnson (The Needles) NW Couloir Ski Descent, Olympic National Park

Still not obvious.

Royal Basin, Mt. Fricaba, and Mt. Constance from the summit of Mt. Johnson

Nice view of Mt. Fricaba, Royal Basin and the Mt. Constance Massif from the top.

Mt. Johnson, NW Couloir, Olympic National Park

Yep.

Mt. Johnson, NW Couloir, Olympic National Park

Mt. Johnson, NW Couloir Ski Descent, Olympic National Park

Second short downclimb.

The next morning I cruised to the summit of Mt. Deception via the NE Chute and was dropping in by 8:30am. The line was in bad shape with a monster garbage runnel down the middle (a 10′ foot deep trench) but still seemed skiable along the edge with a little precision required in the choke.

Mt. Deception NE Chute SkI Descent, Royal Basin, Olympic National Park

The Needles from Mt. Deception, Royal Basin, Olympic National Park

The Needles from the summit of Mt. Deception. Mt. Johnson is the highest peak on the left.

Mt. Deception, NE Chute Ski Descent, Olympic National Park

It’s a steep one.

Partway down the upper section, into view came another party of skiers from Seattle and Portland booting up. I was surprised I hadn’t heard any yelling or cursing from them as I sent down wet sluff on the upper turns. Lucky timing. I assumed they’d gone up the normal route.

Mt. Deception, NE Chute Ski Descent, Olympic National Park

I hit the pause button my descent to let them cruise by. Out of the chute, the rest of the face provided great turns along the skiers right side.

Royal Basin Ski Touring, Olympic National Park

Currently the trail into Royal Basin is pretty much snow free cruising in tennis shoes to the Lower Meadow. Things are melting fast up there but there’s definitely another couple weeks of spring skiing to be had.

Mt. Baker Summit Climb Photos

Eric Frank - May 28, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Mt. Baker Summit Climb

After a hazy day in the clouds while approaching, the weather opened up and we were able to summit on May 21st. Mt. Baker was exceptionally clear with moderate winds. Thanks Mike for great climb! Some photos…

Mt. Baker Easton Glacier Summit Climb

Mt. Baker Easton Glacier Summit Climb

Mt. Baker Easton Glacier Summit Climb

Mt. Baker Easton Glacier Summit Climb

Mt. Baker Easton Glacier Summit Climb

Mt. Blackburn Ski Expedition Photos

Tyler Reid - May 26, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Mt. Blackburn Ski Expedition

Check out photos from a May 12-21, 2014 Mt. Blackburn Ski Expedition with partner guide service Wild Alpine. Our team didn’t have the window to ski off the summit, partially due to weather and partially due to a low snow year, but we still managed to get in a significant amount of ski exploration in this zone from two different camps on the mountain. Another awesome mission to the Wrangells.

Thanks to Collin, Erik, Ben, Robert, Herwig, Lucas, and guides Seth Waterfall and Eli Potter.

Mt. Blackburn Ski Expedition

Mt. Blackburn Ski Expedition

Alaska Ski Expedition

Alaska Ski Expedition

Alaska Ski Expedition

Alaska Climbing

Wrangell St-Elias National Park

Mt. Blackburn Ski Expedition, Alaska

Mt. Blackburn Ski Expedition, Alaska

Wrangells Ski Expedition

Avalanche on Mt. Blackburn, Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Mountaineering in the Wrangells

Camp on Mt. Blackburn, Alaska

Alaska Expeditions

Mt. Blackburn Expedition

Mt. Blackburn Expedition

Mt. Blackburn Expedition

Ski Touring in Wrangell St-Elias National Park

Ski Touring in Wrangell St-Elias National Park

Ski Touring in Wrangell St-Elias National Park

Ski Touring in Wrangell St-Elias National Park

Ski Mountaineering in Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Ski Mountaineering in Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Ski Mountaineering in Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Ski Mountaineering in Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Ski Mountaineering in Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Ski Touring in Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Ski Touring in Wrangell St-Elias National Park, Alaska

Mt. Blackburn Expedition, AK

Wrangell St-Elias National Park, AK

Mt. Angeles North Side Tour

Tyler Reid - May 2, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Mt. Angeles North Side Ski Tour, Olympic National Park

Despite the ridiculously warm temps, the Mt. Angeles north side tour was the perfect way to ring in the month of May: up to Victor Pass and the SE Ridge to the East Summit, down the prominent north side line, up to the col above Klahhane Bowl, a sweet long east facing run into the bowl, back up to Victor Pass and down to the road. Thanks Josh for a great day! A few photos…

Mt. Angeles Ski Mountaineering, Olympic National Park

Mt. Angeles Ski Mountaineering, Olympic National Park

Mt. Angeles Ski Mountaineering, Olympic National Park

Mt. Angeles Ski Mountaineering, Olympic National Park

Mt. Angeles Ski Mountaineering, Olympic National Park

Photos from our April Wapta Traverse

Tyler Reid - May 1, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Wapta Traverse powder turns, Canadian Rockies

Check out photos from another fantastic trip on the Wapta with Dennis, Terry, Marianne, and Katy. Winter snow conditions, a deeper snowpack, some incredible weather, some challenging weather and whiteout navigation (an important part of the Wapta experience), powder skiing, great hut chilling, heated poker games, and a summit of Mt. Gordon.

Approaching the Peyto Hut on the Wapta Traverse

Approaching the Peyto Hut on the Wapta Traverse

The Peyto Hut, Wapta Traverse, Canadian Rockies

Wapta Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides, Canadian Rockies

Traversing from the Peyto Hut to the Bow Hut, Wapta Traverse

View from the Bow Hut, Wapta Traverse, Canadian Rockies

View from the Bow Hut, Wapta Traverse, Canadian Rockies

Skiing above the Bow Hut on the Wapta Traverse

The Bow Hut, Wapta Icefields Traverse

The Bow Hut, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Touring above the Bow Hut on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Touring above the Bow Hut on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Ski ascent of Mt. Gordon on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Ski ascent of Mt. Gordon on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Ski ascent of Mt. Gordon on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Ski ascent of Mt. Gordon on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Wapta Icefields Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

Wapta Icefields Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

Approaching the Balfour Hut, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Touring beneath Mt. Balfour, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Touring on the Diableret Glacier, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Trolltinder Mountain, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Skiing on the Diableret Glacier, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Skiing on the Diableret Glacier, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Skiing on the Diableret Glacier, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Skiing on the Diableret Glacier, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Powder turns on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Powder turns on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Powder turns on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Looking towards the Yoho Valley, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Ski Touring on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Wapta Icefields Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

Balfour Hut, Wapta Icefields Traverse

View from inside the Balfour Hut, Wapta Icefields Traverse

Wapta Icefields Traverse

Wapta Icefields Traverse

Wapta Icefields Traverse with Pacific Alpine Guides

 

Hurricane Ridge to Rocky Peak Traverse

Tyler Reid - April 15, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Mt. Angeles, Klahhane Ridge, and Rocky Peak viewed from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge to Rocky Peak and down the Dragon’s Tooth. A super worthy, somewhat involved springtime objective covering a lot of terrain. This might be a tricky one to onsight in a day without knowing the individual parts, especially the summit ridge of Mt. Angeles and the north face of Rocky Peak. But linking it all together makes for a very rewarding day in the mountains.

Strait of Juan de Fuca from the summit ridge of Mt. Angeles

Start at the Hurricane Ridge ski area. Cruise to the top of the rope tow and rip skins. Zip across Sunrise ridge, transition, and skin towards Maggies, along the ridge, to the top of the Bowling Alley. Rip skins, ski to the col above Lost Bowl. Skin up and over King Dome to the west side of Mt. Angeles, up through the forest, switch to booting, traverse around to the SW Ridge and climb the final 4th class pitch to the west summit (so as to avoid any backtracking). Chill on the summit.

Summit of Mt. Angeles, ski mountaineering in the Olympic Mountains

Traverse the summit ridge most the way to the east summit, ski partway down on the south side, walk over to the first narrow ribbon gully and ski this into the bowl.

Ski mountaineering on Mt Angeles in the Olympic Mountains

Lots of ridge cruising out Klahhane with various ups and downs. Ski cool line above Rocky Peak col that you’ve looked at on multiple occasions.

Hurricane Ridge to Rocky Peak Traverse, Olympic Mountains, WA

Traverse below the north face to the secret ramp through the cliff bands. Climb the Broken Tooth.

The Broken Tooth, North Face of Rocky Peak, Olympic National Park

Chill on the summit of Rocky Peak. Ski down the ridge towards the Dragon’s Tooth and run into a couple large goats. Hang out with the goats.

Mountain goats above the Dragon's Tooth on Rocky Peak, Olympic National Park

Ski the Dragon’s Tooth. Catch a ride back up the road with an old friend.

Hurricane Ridge to Rocky Peak Traverse, Olympic National Park

Wilderness Ski Week 2014 Photos

Tyler Reid - April 7, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

The Ultima Thule Turbine Otter, Wrangell St-Elias National Park

The 1,000 hp Turbine Otter, one of the most capable ski planes in the world.

In late March I returned to Alaska for another round of Wild Alpine’s dream ski touring trip, Wilderness Ski Week, based out of the super remote Ultima Thule Lodge. As guide and ski mountaineering legend Andrew McLean puts it, “Of the top 10 runs I’ve skied in my life, 8 of them have been in the Wrangells.”

Andrew McLean skiing in the Wrangell Mountains.

First test run of the trip.

Andrew, Eli and I went in a few days early to get a handle on snow conditions. It hadn’t snowed in quite some time, but the combination of sunny days and cold nights had kept things well preserved. On our scouting days we “tested” north facing glaciers, a few steeper lines, and a couple unnamed peaks (all in the name of science).

Ruedi Homberger, Eli Potter and Andrew McLean in the Wrangell Mountains

Andrew McLean and Eli Potter in the Wrangell Mountains.

Fellow guides Eli Potter and Andrew McLean.

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Andrew drops into a steep north facing ramp.

wsw14-10

Andrew McLean, Wrangell Mountains, Alaska

Eli Potter, Wrangell Mountains, Alaska

Eli Potter, Wrangell Mountains, Alaska with Wild Alpine

Eli seeing if it goes. The answer… no.

Andrew McLean skiing a huge run in the Wrangells.

Andrew on a super long, sunlit shoulder.

Andrew McLean with Paul Claus flying overhead, Wrangells, Alaska

Andrew McLean and the Ultima Thule Turbine Otter.

Andrew about to get pounced by the lurking Otter.

Paul Claus and his Turbine Otter, Ultima Thule Outfitters, Alaska

Paul Claus is one of the best mountain pilots in the world.

Alaska Ski Mountaineering

A little cornice tunneling.

Alaska Ski Mountaineering

Ruedi Homberger, author of My Wrangell Mountains.

The legendary Ruedi “Hombi” Homberger topping out on a gnarly steep snow pitch.

Andrew McLean ski mountaineering in Wrangell St-Elias National Park

EC Basin, Wrangell St-Elias National Park

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean, Wrangells, Alaska

Ruedi Homberger, Wrangells, Alaska

Hombi.

Ski touring in Wrangell St-Elias National Park

5,000′ vertical feet to the Chitna River in a casual 27 minutes.

Flying in the Ultima Thule Outfitters Turbine Otter, Alaska

Skiing a peak SW of Mt. Blackburn in the Wrangells, AK

Summiting a peak SW of Mt. Blackburn in the Wrangells, AK

Summiting a cool peak SW of Mt. Blackburn.

Wrangell-St Elias National Park ski mountaineering, Alaska

Our crew arrived on April 30th and the laughter began. Three repeats from last year, three hilarious Italians, and a British expat bent on crushing vertical.

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Father to be Mark, psyched to be back in the Wrangells.

For the next five days the weather was perfect. We skied big runs, small runs, steep runs, mellow runs… Powder, recrystallized facets, corn, and the combination of all three, with the occasional turn that actually required effort.

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Eli on another big beautiful glacier run.

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Wilderness Ski Week with Andrew McLean and Wild Alpine, Wrangells, Alaska

Our third day we set our sights on Christina Peak in the Goat Glacier zone, skiing a big, exposed, sustained descent off the summit, rounding off the afternoon with another adjacent summit.

Christina Peak, Wrangell St-Elias National Park, AK

Giacomo, a member of the Italian trio, on Christina Peak.

Christina Peak, Wrangell St-Elias National Park, AK

Giacomo!

Christina Peak, Goat Glacier, Wrangell St-Elias National Park, AK

Titus keeping it casual on a big exposed face.

Christina Peak, Goat Glacier, Wrangell St-Elias National Park, AK

Skiing near the Goat Glacier, Wrangell St-Elias National Park, AK

Skiing our second peak of the day.

Skiing near the Goat Glacier, Wrangell St-Elias National Park, AK

Similar to last year, day four was couloir day, and we celebrated this day in the land of couloirs (a top secret zone Andrew has code named ‘Slotterhouse’). We split into three smaller groups, each team headed for a different neck-craning couloir. The Italians and I set our sights on “The Cat’s Meow”, and up and up and up we went. Typically not the quietest group of guys, I knew by their uncharacteristic silence that they were in the midst of an eye opening experience (as was I).

Couloir in the "Slotterhouse", Wrangell-St Elias National Park

The Cat’s Meow.

Couloir in the "Slotterhouse", Wrangell-St Elias National Park

The Italians.

Couloir in the "Slotterhouse", Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Later that day we climbed another steep couloir, this time on the sunny side of the valley. This put us on a knife edge ridge, looking down a short 50° degree north facing ramp that would set us up for 4,000’ vertical feet of springy pow dancing, illuminated by early evening light, culminating in a glide right up to the planes, and a beautiful flight back to the lodge.

Couloir in the "Slotterhouse", Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Couloir in the "Slotterhouse", Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Andrew McLean, Wilderness Ski Week with Wild Alpine, Alaska

Andrew looking as possessed as he normally does.

Wilderness Ski Week, Wrangells, ski mountaineering, Alaska

Andrew McLean, Wilderness Ski Week, Wrangell-St Elias National Park, AK

Andrew having [another] moment of zen.

 Heli skiing in Alaska is often considered the Holy Grail. The Wrangells are what lies beyond the Holy Grail: bigger, wilder, even more remote, and no helicopters.

Wild Alpine, Wilderness Ski Week, Wrangell-St Elias National Park, AK

Wild Alpine, Wilderness Ski Week, Wrangell-St Elias National Park, AK

Ascending our second big north facing descent on the last day.

The stats for Wilderness Ski Week 2014 came in at 29,520’ of human powered ascent, and with a little help from the Otter, 39,430’ of descent.

Eli Potter, Wilderness Ski Week, Wrangell-St Elias National Park, AK

Eli sums up the experience.

Learn more about Wilderness Ski Week here.

Rogers Pass Split & Ski Touring

Tyler Reid - March 25, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Ski touring at Rogers Pass with Pacific Alpine Guides

After the Wapta Traverse we met up with Jaeden and Trevin from Edmonton for 3 days at Rogers Pass. These guys were getting acquainted with their new splitboard setups, and progressed significantly over the course of 3 days, getting their touring legs under them. Rogers Pass approaches are very friendly to skiers, but a little less so to sideways riders… Good weather and great snow made for some very high quality turns.

Splitboard touring at Rogers Pass with Pacific Alpine Guides

Splitboard touring at Rogers Pass with Pacific Alpine Guides

Ski touring Rogers Pass with Pacific Alpine Guides

Mt. Macdonald, Rogers Pass, BC

Splitboard touring at Rogers Pass

Touring into the Asulkan Valley, Rogers Pass, BC

Rogers Pass powder turns, BC

Splitboard touring Rogers Pass, BC

Splitboard touring Rogers Pass, BC