Do something BIG. Do something COOL.

25 08 2013

It’s time. It’s time to do something Big, something Cool, something Different. The summer of 2013 I have traveled less and adventured differently than I have in years past. I miss my whitewater kayak, I miss weekend road trips and camping on a mountain. I have spent more time in the gym than ever before, and less time outdoors than ever before. It eats me from the inside out.

Yesterday at work I spoke to a great adventurer his name is Floyd. ( Floyd is winding down his summer riding around America on his bicycle. For what? For the Best Friends Animal Society, in Kanab, Utah. Floyd is from the Lake Placid, New York. Ya that’s pretty awesome.

While I have been preparing for this falls Ice Man Cometh Challenge mountain bike race, I have met some new adventurers on the trail. This makes for great conversation on the trail but I am longing for more adventures to call my own. This summer has been more about wedding preparations than about play. July 27, 2013 I married the greatest person ever. The wedding was a great start to a new, longer adventure, than ever before. But alas I am the red jelly bean and long for the little bumps of euphoria along the road of life.

I have been able to share two of my micro trips with others this summer which made for a great time. I am looking for a longer, bigger endeavor. While in Colorado for the wedding I spent a day whitewater kayaking with Mike and Alison on the the great Colorado River. Teaching some new skills, and learning a few new skills in the process too. We had a great trip down the river. The second micro trip was sharing a 14eer with Karen, Addison, and Little Ryan. Two days after the wedding we set off to climb Longs Peak again with two rookies in tow. A great alpine start led to a beautiful sunrise. Fickle mountain weather kept us from the great payoff of the summit, but wise mountain choices kept us alive to play another day.

The next big adventure is around the corner and I can’t wait, but yet have fallen into a state of blah with every day life. Looking for the little things to bring my spirit back around, the fall color change, a second trip to Colorado for a short weekend of fun, and another Iceman. Where else do I go for release and to rebuild the sense of spirit? “The mountains are calling and I must go…”

The Shoshone Section of the Colorado River.

The Shoshone Section of the Colorado River.

Royalview Mountain Bike Trail. Strongsville, Ohio. Thanks to CAMBA

Royalview Mountain Bike Trail. Strongsville, Ohio. Thanks to CAMBA

New gear for this seasons climbimg adventures

New gear for this seasons climbimg adventures

About halfway up the chute on Longs Peak

About halfway up the chute on Longs Peak

Just past Chasam Lake. Sunrise over the Twin Sisters.

Just past Chasam Lake. Sunrise over the Twin Sisters.


Boater X 2013

28 04 2013

It has been a while since I posted any blog worthy news here. So in just a few short sentences I will catch you up too speed.  2012-Boater X 2012, Mancation, Vermilion Harbor Triathlon, Fit Games, Iceman Cometh Bike Challenge. All of which were first for me, and my support crew (too many too list.)

This past ice climbing season was a short one for me, I was able to get on the ice 1 day…beat I know. It was good ice, and my climbing partners were also great company. We made a run at Underwood Canyon in the Adaks, and found some really great climbing.

CrossFit open 2013, came and went I found better numbers this season compared to last. Karen qualified to regionals for a second season and given her lack of training time seems to be just as strong if not stronger than she was last year.

April 27, 2013 was the second annual Boater X race for the Cuyahoga River. Based on the water levels, and our snow pack we anticipated the location to be in the lower portion of the Gorge. Well the water dried up and the anticipated water release from Lake Rockwell never came down stream. At the last minute we changed locations and headed back upstream to the Sheraton Section of the Cuyahoga River for another day of Hucking.


This year the weather warmed up and the sun came out making for a great day to be on the water. Shawn Yingling brought the bar up a notch and ran the falls in a shredder raft and has set the bar even higher.

Next season will be an interesting one for the Cuyahoga River. With two dams scheduled to come down by the end of this summer, this might have been the last great event on the Sheraton Section that we all know. The new water way that will emerge is sure to bring world class boaters back to Northeast Ohio in the coming years.

*Photo compliments of Eilert*

Part 3…Eldorado Base Camp and Beyond

31 07 2012

As day 4 ended moist, but without the fear of getting blown off the mountain, we hit the bags. It was the plan to Alpine start the following day (5), head up the glacier, hit the high camp and the composter and then on to the Peak, and back down to the car. Making a nice 12-15 hr day out of it, with the anticipation of a warm shower, and soft bed after the wet tent slumber party.

As we had done on the days before, we started out with a brew, and some breakfast, sun block, and today burying the tent with snow for weight; since our poles were our snow axe and trekking poles.  We left camp rather quickly after the work was done and topped the ridge we were camped next to, as we scrambled over the ridge we had a small moat to cross next to the rocks.  I was ahead of Mike and made short work of the day’s first challenge, I had a lot of pent up energy from the yesterdays rain.  As I looked back at Mike he was making his was down.

This is not too far from where the glacier swallowed Mike’s trekking pole. We were luck to escape with our lives from the hungry beast.

As Mike set his trekking poles on the rock to step down from hold to hold on this portion of the ridge, that’s when it happened. Almost in slow motion one of his trekking poles decided that it had had enough, and started to slide down the rock. The pole landed about 10 feet down inside of the moat. I peered into the great abyss and was able to locate the pole and told Mike we could get it without too much issue.  He was happy about that and continued to make his way on to the snow. As if in unison, as his feet hit the snow I hear a scraping sound as the great abyss swallowed his trekking pole into an even deeper cavernous area, only to end up as glacier food. With any luck geologist will have a great historical artifact in the years to come when this baby gets melted out of the glacial moraines.

One could only imagine the feeling of losing a great piece of gear that is good for going up but truly shines during the descent. Mike was a little more than bummed but we ventured on up the snow field of the Eldorado Glacier keeping the ridge on our right. After gaining around 500-700’ of elevation we stopped to rope up as there small crevasses beginning to show ahead and to the sides of our line of travel.

After a few hours we came up on a great hole in the glacier. We stood on a small flat spot, with the ridge on our right. The glacier outstretched in front and off to the left for a distance that can only be measured by hours it would take to walk to the edge. Following the glacier to our right and along the ridge would lead us on to the Inspiration Glacier and away from our objective.  The option from our point was to traverse left of this great hole and continuing up slope for another 30 minutes.  So after a little sunscreen and some snacks we kept on trucking.

“Good God Gertie look at the the gash on that one” -Bruce VanFossen

We knew base on our map that at the top of this slope, the glacier would level off into a large flat area and from there it would be a short walk to the high camp, composter, and our pre lunch stop.

Reaching the top of this small slope Eldorado Peak came into sight, and according to Mike my slow boring pace became  the Lighting Mc Queen pace.

Eldorado Peak was a sight to see, ahead of us lay 15-20 minutes of glacier and a few crevasses. It would be at the small rock island on the right we would find high camp, and a rocky ridge leading up to the last two hundred yards of snow climbing. The peak was snow covered and from our perspective did not look as spectacular as Mt. Johannesburg or those of Boston Basin. What was becoming apparent was the vista to our right or east, of the Inspiration Glacier and the North Face of Forbidden Peak.

We crossed the flat area without incident and Mike and I both had our minds on the composter, and after a short looky lou we found the little gem at the base of the rock island.

The best views come from stopping and taking a break. This was one stop that was well worth the time. From the vantage point of the composter you looked south across the Inspiration Glacier towards Forbidden Peak and off to the lower left was Moraine Lake. Moraine Lake was a beautiful green glacier fed lake, still covered in partial ice.

While hanging out on the rock island we were met by a party of three women, who were making short work of the climb. After a short chit chat we headed up the finial snow slope towards the peak. In many ways this part of the glacier was strange as there were several crevasses on the way up. We safely navigated around these new obstacles and kept on trucking. Kick. Step. Kick. Step. Kick. Step. Finding a rhythm was the key to making ground, for me it felt super easy, after all the heavy squats at the gym in preparation for this climb.

With a short push left we let the team of three pass us by and kick steps in the snow, breaking the trail. It was a nice relief to travel in someone else’s steps as it was way more efficient. In short order the women cleared the finial knife ridge and Mike and I started our ascent of the same ridge. This last area of the climb was probably the most dangerous, the only protection was our two pickets sunk deep into the snow. We used these to form a running belay and stepped rather carefully making each step count on its way across.

Looking carefully you can see where the picket is located

This was the main pull of climbing this peak, as it has a Himalayan feel to it with this finial knife ridge. Maximum Exposure to our left and right, for somewhere around 80’ we walked on a kicked step trail in the snow no wider than 1 foot. It led us to a wider snow covered area to which the five of us enjoyed some views, and a few photos of the summit. Yep we made it, Good Ole Eldorado Peak, and we were only halfway done with our day. The rest was all downhill from this point.

Bounding down slope we reached the rock island after a short time descending and settled on the rocks for our lunch. Tuna from a bag, or as the women called it…“cat food”… has never tasted so good. They ladies powdered on down slope and Mike and I left soon after them following their footsteps down the glacier, and back across the ridge.  It was a great day of climbing, the skies were blue all day with a light wind and a few stray clouds. A great pay off to the wind, rain, and wet tent we endured over the last few days.

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Mancation 12.2…To Eldorado Base Camp

27 07 2012

One our way back to camp the storms stopped giving us doubt about our decision, but once we made camp we enjoyed a little boxed wine and all was not for a loss, and the planning for day 3 began to take shape. While brewing dinner we discussed plans to maybe head towards the west ridge of Forbidden Peak. The weather seemed to clear up except for some wind, that would later prove to be pretty strong.  With the alarm set for an alpine start we hit the bags and started to nod off.

It had been maybe an hour when the wind began to pick up steam and the tent began to rattle and quake. Both Mike and I were trying hard to catch some z’z with the tent getting racked by the wind until it was too hard to sleep, and we lay awake watching the tent walls as they got hammered by the wind. It was not until the a few of the tent stake came flying out with some of the strongest gust that we later estimated at or above 40-50 mph, that the east wall came crashing in on us.

Talk about a site to see! Donning  mountaineering boots, long johns, we made a mad scramble to hold the tent while trying to restake what we could with the remainder of the snow getting super low due to the warm temperatures. It was apparent that the alpine start time was fast approaching, and sleep was in short supply. Once we got the tent squared away I have to admit that I was wide awake, with nothing to do but listen to the wind rack the tent and stand hyper vigilance to what I thought would be Mike and I going all Mary Poppins down the mountainside.

We never saw it coming and never heard the alarm go off, sleep finally came and we later awoke at 730. Enter the morning routine brew, eat, composter.  With the alpine start gone it was hard to think we could make the west ridge of Forbidden, summit, and back before midnight. So the plan was scratched and we enjoyed our eats, and maybe take a nap who would guess what might lay ahead. That was until we saw the bear across the creek, a few snow bridges away.

Let me be the first to say I love wildlife, both watching and eating. In this setting it was great watching this black bear look for its breakfast and catching some sun. It’s just when it starts walking your direction… things…plans can change. We watched Yogi for a while as he made his way across one snowbridge and then a second, testing every step. Work through the trees below the composter and then across the snowbridge on the creek beside our camp.

Mike donned a some noise making things (carabineers, pulleys, and the snow shovel) while I resorted to some of the same plus a few rocks…Now don’t ask why, but rocks just felt natural… So while Yogi crossed the snowbridge below us and disappeared into the pines below our tent we stood vigilant making a great ruckus and randomly chucking rocks below. We figured we were safe when a few fellow climbers appeared out of the bushes where Yogi took refuge, not looking worse for wear.

Man there went the morning it was now close to 10am. Time to evaluate the day. It was then the idea of pulled pork sandwiches and beers came to mind. Before long we began to pulled out, a day early and started back towards the car. We guessed that we could break camp and be at the car close to 4 if we got cracking while the rest was history.

We passed that evening eating at the caboose in Marblemount, and enjoying some organic blond ale from California, later pitching camp next to the Cascade River.  It was a great night.

While we were in town we hit the ranger station and grabbed some new permits for the Eldorado Cross County Zone, and  some camp brews, good ole Alaskan Never Summer Ale pushed us through for the night of gear sorting, attempted drying of socks, and repacking for the next two days of back country travel.

Starting day 4 we enjoyed our breakfast and brew of coffee, and before long we headed back up Cascade River Road for the Eldorado Trail Head. Now there is some interesting things to note about our travels here and that is the trails. There is not one trail in all of Ohio that can compare to the trails in the North Cascades, in steepness. The trail on the way to Eldorado XC area was twice as steep as the one into Boston Basin, due to the sharp elevation gain and lower starting point. To quote Mike, “this trail is a mother” and it was shaping up to be another day of walking and fingers crossed, making camp before dark.

While climbing the trail in we knew there would be some difficult route finding, or so stated the guide book. What we were about to experience was downright mentally taxing. Despite the good weather forecast it looked like some rain might be moving in to the area. With that type of change it had the ability to bring some fog. Though it would not be an issue while we continued to travel through the trees on a pretty well worn trail tread, but once we hit the boulder fields it would became a challenge.

When we cleared the trees and saw the boulder field it was one of those moments were you say..this is not as bad as (insert the last place like this that sucked)….Then the fog came back…

What we later learned on the way out was that it should have taken use maybe 2 hours, at most to navigate through the talus field, and with fog we crushed it some place around 4 hours.

It all payed off when we passed a few fellow climbers close to the beginning of the snow field. They told us about their camping spot, and that the snow was packed really nice. *read this as….less work digging our snow platform*

After a little while longer of walking upslope through the snow, with our crampons on we found the “camp site”. It was hard to fancy with all of the fog but from what we could see, which was not a whole lot, there were 6 tent platforms pre-dug just waiting for our tent. This was good as the weather was continuing to get worse and some rain was beginning to fall harder.

So there we were…tent up sleeping bags out, cloths hanging up in the tent to air out, nothing to do but wait for tomorrow. The pitter patter of the rain was nice, the wind was not too strong as we began to make some coffee and noodles. Yeppers, that’s when it happened, we both began to experience some new moisture, it was raining in the tent. This launched a full blown Homeland Security style investigation. Before long we were cutting our garbage bags, (which is what was keeping our cloths dry on the hike in) and weaving them in between the tent fly and the body with the hopes that it would re-route the water down slope. Which it did with great success, my corner of the tent had close to ½ quart of water in it when the rain stopped. And so ends Day 4.

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Mancation 12.2, The North Cascades

25 07 2012

Mancation 12.2, as it was called hatched from an idea that Mike had a while back.  The Pacific North West is known for its snow capped mountains and dormant volcanoes; know by most by Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Baker, and Mt. Rainer. According to the National Park Service it is home to the largest volume of glaciers in the lower 48 states.

Mike had been to the area multiple times before on climbing trips and had heard about a lesser known climbing area with several smaller peaks assessable one main basin area. The climbing area contained several glaciers, climbing routes, and great vistas.

Boston Basin is located a short 20 plus mile drive from the Marblemount Ranger Station, in Marblemount, Washington. After obtaining our camping and climbing permits for the back country, we head up Cascade River Road to the unmarked trailhead for Boston Basin. Getting our gear situated took some time and before we knew it we headed up the trail to hopefully find the basin before darkness fell.  The first day of out 7 day adventure was pretty long by the time we hit the trail head, but while packing our gear we were filled with a second wind, and were quite happy to be moving again after so much sitting.

It was hard to not notice the great scenery just at the trail head alone. Everywhere  l looked there were big mountains surrounded by snow and glaciers it was great!

Our  day started at 130 am when we left Mike’s house for the airport and by the time we took off, and headed up the trail it was close to 4 or 5  in the afternoon. With well over 3.5 hours of hiking we knew we would be pushing it to find camp before darkness fell. The trail in was pretty steep and we gained elevation fast. The trail on the way in was quite picturesque, with the dramatic landscape change in the 360 degree panorama, it made for passing time easy.

Cutting across the trail in several areas was melting snow and ice, and crossing those obstacles became the challenge.

Snow bridges, and open water crossing, followed by log hopping gained us access to some to the lower basin area. By the time we cleared the tree line it was after dark and we were met by a wall of snow. Climbing out on the snow after a few hours of being on the trail was a nice relief to the journey and before long we crossed a glacial moraine and found some good snow to pitch out tent for the night.  By now we were flirting with the 24 hour mark of travel time from Ohio to what would later be designated as base camp.

One of my favorite things about traveling into the mountains is the first morning. When you wake up put on your boots for the morning stretch and the scenery takes a hold of you. This trip had a lot of those moments, unzipping the tent door and just taking it all in can sometimes be a day’s work.

The first true day of being in the basin we collected our bearings and set some pretty loose goals. First and foremost was find the composter toilet which had been hand dug out of the snow by the climbing rangers a few days prior, and find the upper camp.  It is hard to get an idea on spacial distance due to the larger landscape features, what I would guess-ta-mate could take 30 minutes later turned out to be a 2.5 hours hike…

Day two we opted to head up the snow fields towards the Quien Sabe Glacier, which would later lead us to Shark Fin Tower or Sahale Mountain.  After waking up at around 0530 and brewing coffee and some breakfast we loaded our packs and headed upslope only stopping briefly at an open area to collect the days worth of glacier melt water for drinking on the hike. At day break the valley was shrouded in fog and it soon led to blue patchy skies. This “weather window” would not last long as we would later find out.

Getting to Sharkfin we observed the main route,a snow col to be blocked by a large moat at the edge of the glacier and rock. I was able to successfully navigate across the moat and onto the rock. As I edged closer to the snow col, I was again stymied by a large block of snow that had broken free from the main snow col and looked quite precarious. So after a little down climbing Mike and I opted to travel a little further up the base of the cliff band and if there was not any other route past the moat, we would bail and head to the top of Sahale for we still had a lot of light left in the day.

It was not much further we found a second snow col with a much smaller moat and quickly gained access to the 35-45 degree snow col and headed up. It was while we were locating the new route the weather was changing for the worse And after only 1 pitch of snow climbing the weather hit us and it began to thunder, rain, and sleet.  Fearing the worst on an exposed ridge we set an anchor and bailed.  

One our way back to camp the storms stopped giving us doubt about our decision, but once we made camp we enjoyed a little boxed wine and all was not for a loss, and the planning for day 3 began to take shape.



Boater X 2012

3 05 2012

Last spring some time during Wednesday Night Paddle Session an idea was hatched, brought back to life after several great paddle sessions on the local water scene in and around Cleveland Ohio.  How do we share this experience, this river, and all this fun with others? We toyed with the idea of a play date in the Keel Haulers Manifesto, but the stigma surrounding the “dirty” Cuyahoga was ingrained in the old timer’s brains like salmon smelling their home river. So alas we could never collect any more than the young guns. After a great conversation with Michael Duvall on the just as dirty Rocky River I was encouraged to carry out my plan come the spring 2012.

-Chris Wing, H20 Dreams-

The plotting and scheming between Dave Hill, Doug Lyons, Ron Shasteen, and I began to take hold. We decided to hold the race on the Gorge Section based on historic water levels, with a fall back plan of the Sheraton Section in the event of low water.

Fast forward to the spring of 2012, winter had essentially skipped Ohio, along with the early season rains.  Water levels plummeted, the Sheraton was coming in and we were two months ahead of our typical schedule on the loss of paddling water. This was supposed to be an epic spring with Cuyahoga Falls celebrating their Centennial Anniversary with plans to remove the Sheraton and LeFever dams. We anticipated maybe one run at best this season until the demolition of the dams was completed in late July.

It looked like the Fat Cats had stalled a good dam removal project so we used that to our advantage and moved the race to the Sheraton Section.

-Brandon Conrad-

So on Saturday the 28th of April, the 1st Boater X was held on the Cuyahoga River, Sheraton Section.  The event attracted paddlers as far away as the Charlotte White Water Center to Erie, Pa.

Once the course was set up and the racers were briefed on the lines, we set off down the flat water section at the put in to the Sheraton Dam. With 15 boaters strong we hucked the dam and hung out in the starting eddy for the race to begin. Once there we were met up by about 5 other boaters that were already on the course running laps after setting safety.

The race course for the first 5 heats led from the starting eddy down 25 yards of “flat” water into a river right ferry. Once back into the flow racers had to boof a small hole and then it was off to the first 8’ drop; Rookie Drop. Once in the pool below racers paddled downstream a short distance and eddied on river left behind the rock pile and sprinted into the finishing eddy touching the wall in the caldron eddy.

The final race that both long and short boaters qualified for during the previous heats took them past the rock pile eddy for a 20 yard sprint downstream to the final drop at Staircase, a 12 footer or so. Once racers landed in the eddy pool they had a few choices on the lines through the Jumble into the finishing eddy on river left touching shore to earn their final place ranking.

At the sound of a safety whistle the first heat was off and running, and the rest fell into place shortly thereafter. Spectators lined the shored on River Right, and the hotel restaurant. Five heats strong, led into the finial for a long boat and small boat grand finally.

Racers winning titles at the 1st Ohio Boater X Race were:

Long Boat Division

Nathan Craig- who brought sexy back in an old school Lazer from WaveSport

Short Boat Division

Doug Lyons-with a Jackson

Tommy Highberg- with a Riot

Prizes were rather grass roots. The race winners received a few bottles of home brew and nose plugs (don’t worry Doug yours is coming). This event could not have been pulled off without the help of several people. I would like to list a few of them that made it possible, if you’re not on the list I have not forgotten you and I want to say THANK YOU a few more times.

bDave Hill, Andy Heidenreich, Ron Shasteen, Doug Lyons, Tommy Highberg, Michael Duvall for all the help in the pre-planning and a super big thanks to Pat Emmonds, and Pat Guzowski for helping with safety, Really that was huge! Karen Hawley who has probably heard “Boater X” 200,235,000 times in the last week alone, thanks babe.  Dennis Dukeman thanks for the youtube video. The God Father at the Keel Haulers, and Rob Hammond, for without your correspondence I would have been way more confused, and maybe turned into a C-1 boater….Thanks to the Sheraton Hotel, and The Fire House Bar and Grill, for being able to dominate your bar with our after party!

So next season where will you be, catching a beatdown in Big Nasty 3 hours from home, or running the Boater X 20 minutes from home? Hope to see you there!

Thanks Chris and Sam for bringing attention to our river, for the pictures, and bringing some extra class to the race. Good Luck on your project.

Pilot Collective Media-Sam Fulbright, Team Blisstick

H20 Dreams-Chris Wing, Team Wavesport

-Corey Spoores-

-Pat Emmonds-

Avalanche Pass

22 01 2012

Yesterday we snowshoed into avalanche pass with hope of climbing avalanche gully. After a 5 mile shoeing and lean conditions we opted for a climb on the trap dike.


After taking a few minutes for some hot coco we set off. Mike, John, Karen, and I set off soloing the first half of the dike. Once we got to the second waterfall I lead the way up and Karen brought up the rear on rope. We climbed roughly 400′ of the nearly 2000′ climb before rapelling back down for the journey out.
We finished the trip back to the adak loj in record time for the five mile trip. Not long after we met up with John who took a ski trail back and headed to the pub.

I think we will have to go back soon as there is a lot of ice to climb.