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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:43 am 
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Here is an article on the first ski descent of University Peak S Face in 2001. I got to meet Bob Kingsley this year at his backcountry hut on Ophir Pass, CO. Great hut and terrain if you are in the San Juans....

http://offpistemag.com/themag/pdfs/op13.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:37 am 
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Thanks for posting that link HFT. I have not yet read that article. It is hard for me to describe how audacious I feel this descent was... When my partners and I flew into the St. Elias with Paul Klaus, we did a fly by of this face directly-the scale of it is impossible to comprehend from a photo, even from window of a tiny plane flying by...
At that time, the face had yet to see a successful climb, (and Paul himself had made two attempts), and when one of my partners asked if it had been skied, Paul just laughed...
At that time, on our first real Alaskan expedition, we could not entertain the idea (in public) of riding it, but we were all, in our minds, considering the possibility, privately.

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:41 am 
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Lol, that face was MEANT to be skied!!! Wow, such a sick sick, aesthetic line. What's the vertical on that? To be honest, while looking super intimidating and serious, that line looks pretty straight forward from a ski mountaineering viewpoint. As long as there's good stability and snow what's so audacious about it besides the usual hazards and the scale of it? Edit: just saw it's 7k in your previous post. That's insane. I'd take that line over any seven summit line. I did not know that about Koch's attempt on Everest. That is awesome. Goals in snowboard mountaineering should be based on aesthetics, style, and safety over strictly being objective driven. Unfortunately, most ski/board mountaineers are the latter. Riding that line in that pic would be so much more impressive to me than some hop hop chink chinking down some crappy snow on Denali or Everest. I find it funny that ski mountaineers find they have to ride from the TOP of a mountain to satisfy their ego. If a natural line ends short of a summit then to me there's no reason to continue on if wasting the extra time is going to sacrifice your descent and safety. If you have time and it's safe then by all means go stand on top. It's all about the DOWN when you got a board on your back imo.


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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:53 am 
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I see St Elias Guides offers trips on the N ridge of University, I wonder about a custom trip to ski the S face? ( I personally wouldn't be opposed to getting guide help for something like this). Odds of actually pulling it off with safe conditions and weather are probably minimal......

BG - its around 7k

PS - I wouldnt be suprised if the JJones crew had their eyes on something like this for Higher.....

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:01 am 
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I would totally be fine hiring a guide for that and I would have no problem just skiing the face and not worrying about the summit.

Ok, I just looked at a topo of that face on google maps. Now I know why it's so audacious. That's a ridiculously sustained face. That face is so beautiful it's deceiving until you look at it on a topo.


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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:27 am 
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BG: I am mostly agreed with your POV, but I have no qualms with others whose opinions might differ (like those who feel they must ski from the summit, no matter how unaesthetic doing so might be). I have made many snowboard mountaineering descents which did not drop from the summit, where I chose what I felt is the best line on the mountain (The Snake Couloir on Sneffels being a prime example of this).
But, there is room for every game in the mountains, and everyone can play by their own set of "rules" as long as they report the truth when they come back to civilisation.

As far as the S. Face Uni goes, it has a lot of qualities which make it a very difficult descent, and many reasons why it has only been done once. First it is in the St. Elias range, far from the "limelight" of the Alaska Range, and until relatively recently, few folks even new how beautiful a peak University is (and not just the S. Face, we got a great view of the N. Side of it from the Summit of Mt. Bona, awesome). The face is 7K high, and there is not much in the way of safe bivy sites. Climbing this face requires a full kit, two ice tools, a rope, some screws, a picket, a stove, and full clothing suitable for AK conditions, so one is going to be traveling fairly heavy. It pretty much has to be done in a single push, as the face is just not a safe place to hang out. Then, the descent is severely steep, and do not expect to get the hero snow you find in the Chugach. Often the face is covered in ice, so one has to luck out and get it with actual snow on it, and be willing to come back another year if it is ice.
So, you have to climb up 7K, with full gear, and, have enough energy left when you top out to make a very technical descent of the same height, on pitches up to and exceeding 50 degrees, in snow conditions which are likely to be variable at best (you sure are not going to be able to climb it if it is deep powder). And, it would be a shame to go all the way up there and not tag the summit... The beauty of these mountains is hard to convey, and the draw of the summit is going to be quite strong...

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:05 pm 
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barrows wrote:
and not just the S. Face, we got a great view of the N. Side of it from the Summit of Mt. Bona, awesome


Nice! Had some friends just get back from there...2 weeks in their tents at basecamp. Every time they tried to move up a new storm would roll in. They noted when they left AK the success rate on Big D was hovering around 10%. Avy off Motorcycle Hill took a rope team of 5 into a crevasse, only 1 survived. I remember asking the ranger directly about avalanche risk on the WButt route during our pre-climb interview, Motorcycle Hill is not an area I remember them mentioning (climbing route is usually South of the terrain of concern). Crazy year fo sho.

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:12 pm 
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To not report it at all would be even better. But I sure as hell couldn't not brag about that :D

As far as Uni goes, you could just Red Bull the face by jumping off the basket of a helicopter while strapped in :lol:
jk of course

That's not really much more gear than I climb with most of the time in the Sierra anyway and the elevation is the same too. I think if one was lucky enough to get the right conditions one could jam up that thing fairly quickly. Luck being the key. I don't think I'd want anything to do with it if I had to deal with ice. Looking at it I was thinking it could be a face with unusually consistent snow and not too many complexities given the scale of the face. Which is what I think the allure would be. If I had to deal with ice and ropes (for anything other than the burgshrunds) I'd be less interested.


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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:16 pm 
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Thanks for the link Chris, it appears to me that the Japanese team may have shortcutted on the descent, or is the standard route up near the fracture line at the top?

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:19 pm 
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HikeforTurns wrote:
Thanks for the link Chris, it appears to me that the Japanese team may have shortcutted on the descent, or is the standard route up near the fracture line at the top?


The standard route aims for the saddle. I am not sure if they were the trigger, or if they were simply caught in the slide path on the boot pack switchback.

Here's a look from the 11K camp:

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:28 pm 
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Perhaps we need to suggest a new forum topic to BCrider: Dream Lines, where we can further discuss such things.

Chris: Were your friends attempting, Bona, Uni, both, or? Were they camped on the N side of Bona for uni's N ridge, or over on the Klutlan (S side)? In my experience, best conditions in the St Elias (and this seems to be true for the AK range as well) for less storms seem to happen in late April through about mid May, June can be warmer, which is nice, but historically seems to be stormier in general. I guess this year has been pretty bad in general though... Luck is certainly a big factor in these mountains.

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 Post subject: Re: Denali splitboard ascent/descent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:01 pm 
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^^^ They were on the Klutan side, planning for Bona and possibly Churchill (if they got really good weather).

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