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Daniel Harro speeds through the Alaska Range

Ruth Gorge 2013, Mt. Wake “The Cook Inlet”  April 26th-28th, John Frieh & Daniel Harro.

Daniel Harro Mixed Climbs photo: John Frieh

Climbing in the alpine is all managing the many systems including ropes, cooking, sleeping, rack, and maybe the most important your clothing system.  A few weeks ago I had a “long weekend” trip into the Alaska Range with my good friend John Frieh who has mastered the art of the “Smash and Grab” style of alpine climbing. Alaska has had one of the coldest recorded springs in history so I threw in both my NW Alpine Fast & Light pants as well as my Salopette’s in case things were on the cold side of the spectrum.  John and I talked on Tuesday and purchased our tickets to Anchorage that morning.  Jonn saw a solid weather window and we both had air miles to burn so we decided to go for it.  

Thursday night we left PDX and headed north.  Our plan was to fly into the range Friday morning and fly out sometime Sunday since both John and I had to report back to our respective jobs at 8:00 Monday morning leaving just enough time to scout routes on Friday and climb on Saturday and get back to Anchorage by Sunday night.  Pretty much your standard long weekend warrior trip substituting airplanes for cars.

Thursday night to Friday morning: PDX -> ANC -> Talkeetna -> Ruth Glacier.  After skiing and scouting for about 4-5 hours Friday afternoon, John and I decided to head to Mt. Wake and see what it had to offer, unfortunately our line that we were looking at was not in so we ended up repeating a route called “The Cook Inlet” on Mt. Wake that John and Jess Roskelley put up last October.  It was an amazing summit and we were very lucky to have great clear warm weather to climb in.  It was nice reach a summit, not always easy in Alaska...

After a short stay on the summit and a few photos we headed down with little issues.  We reached our skis as the sun was setting and did the long slow ski back to base camp.  At some point The sun set and the wind picked up on the way back to camp  forcing us to throw on our belay parkas for the last hour or so, surprising us both how cold it was still getting at night.  One of the down falls of the “Smash and Grab” style is our lack of forethought into preparing good quality meals, with no cooking tent, tired bodies and frozen fingers we were forced to eat freeze dried food which in my opinion is not adequate after 20+ hrs on the go.  On the flip side we woke up the next morning around 0800 called Paul at Talkeetna Air Taxi from the satellite phone and said he would see us in 45 min, giving John and I just enough time to wake up throw everything into our duffels and drag our gear down to the airstrip.  After being in the Alaska Range for about 72hrs John and I awarded ourselves with larger than normal breakfast at the Roadhouse making up for meager rations the night before.

Summit shot! Photo: Daniel Harro

A huge thanks goes out to Bill Amos at NW Alpine for making some great quality clothing made right here in my back yard!  I can honestly say that my Fast and Light pants have more days of use than any other pant I have used in the alpine and are my go to pant for anything in the mountains.  

I want to also say thanks to John for the inspiration of a long weekend into the Alaska Range, and of course we could not have done a trip like this without the amazing support from our wonderful wives and family!