"Mount Hunter is a siren. Its seductive song captivated me the first time I heard it. I have thrown aside logic and maybe even reason to try to climb it. I am not alone on this bewitchment" Scott Backes

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Interview with Matt Helliker

An interview with Matt Helliker about climbing in general and the Cartwright Connection new route on the North Buttress of Mt Hunter. Check the link... 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teaser from 'Posing Productions'- check it out.....now!

It looks like Alastair Lee and Dave Reeves have been hard at work up in the Posing Productions headquarters. Today they released a short teaser to whet your appetites......


The film is expected out this autumn...

Dave 'Pap' Reeves is an exceptional cameraman, but don't trust his cooking!
Serves 2, your having a laugh....

Monday, May 30, 2011

Post Production

I am up in the Posing Productions offices going over the rushes from
all the filming. The boys have captured some truly epic shots on the
North Buttress and I have some pretty amazing ariel shots of the
face.... even found an awesome clip I totally forgot about with Matt
doing some comedic posing in his bright orange Patagonia
Onezie......Al and I have been pissing ourselves laughing all

Otherwise, both my big toes are still numb. I have been joining Al on
his afternoon bouldering sessions and have found myself totally
overwhelmed by the colours and textures of the countryside. Not being
able to wonder around on the glacier as freely as I would have liked,
I have now been pushed into sensory overload, the grass blowing in the
wind, the fertile landscape, the grazing sheep, the tiny shadows
created by the evening sun on rough texture of the grit stone.... the
warm countryside wind blowing through my hair (he says while Al is
furiously rubbing his hands together trying to generate heat).

Watch this space.....for updates regarding the film.

Dave aka. Pap

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Line...

We arrived back home two days ago, very jet-lagged and still completely knackered after the climb! Matt still can't stop eating and he admitted on the phone yesterday that he went for a run and was so exhausted he had to walk back home...ouch! Upon arrival at Heathrow I somehow got on a bus to Luton airport when I needed to go to Gatwick for my final flight home- luckily I eventually made my flight. And poor Dave Reeves had to do battle on the London Underground with 4 bags and about 70kg of gear.

For anyone interested in technical details we gave the route the follow grades:
Alaskan Grade 6 (M6, AI6, 5.8, A2). Although the climbing is significantly harder and more sustained than the French Route and the 'Moonflower Buttress'. It would be great if a strong team were to repeat our line and eliminate the aid in the future. Bivouac's are hard to find and I expect it would go all free at hard M7 and 5.9.

Here is a photo of Mount Hunter's North Buttress with our line drawn on:


Saturday, May 21, 2011

My view

Sorry for not updating for the last day or so, but on return from our successful ascent we have had no power to charge a empty laptop battery due to a full on storm hitting, that said a lot has happened over the passed 2 days. Yesterday wanting to get out and back to "dryland" we decided to break camp in a slight lull and dragged all of our equipment through half a meter of fresh snow the 1.5km to the landing strip on the glacier, where we were hoping that the following day would clear enough to allow us to get the plane out! but...as luck should have it that evening the storm blew through and a plane was able to get in at 8.30pm to get us out and back to Talknena. We have now just returned to Anchorage as we have also managed to get a earlier flight home in the morning, crazy how things have moved on so fast.
It takes me a while to write down how the 6 days on the wall made and now makes me feel, but i will start and as it sinks in as to what we have achieved I will write more. The most important thing for our success was that both myself and Jon where in the same head space, the dream, the commitment, the vision, the drive to succeed on a new route of this scale, and the ability to know totally what each other where needing and feeling, we didn't need to communcate this by word but just by the friendship we have and by the pull of the rope. The climbing was hard, dangerous, scary, but beautiful and it took everything we had in our minds and arms to be successful. The last 36 hour push to the top off the North Buttress and the 38 abseils later to the base off the wall, where like an out off body experience I have never witnessed before. Pushing through the super bad weather felt like we where always in complete control but at the same time fully wasted, we where not on our own, not like some "God" looking over us, or anything like that, I don't believe, but just that, we where not on our own, i can't explain it. nuff said! The route is the hardest and longest climb of my life so far, and there are many stories which i will tell you about over the next few days and weeks of the 6 days on the wall. but for now one stands out...after descending back to the glacier after the route, both wasted at the base, hardly able to move after poor food for 5 days and 36 hours with no food and 1 litre of water we lead in the snow as our body systems shut down now knowing that we where safe, we could see the Dave (Pap) in the distance skinning as hard and as fast as he could towards us, big rucksack and toeing a sledge, thank god, he's bringing us a warm drink and a load off food from Base Camp, cheese, bagels, salt crackers, beef jerky, fruit bars, peanut butter all things that we had been craving on the route and needing to eat to get us back on our feet and down the 1.5km to our BC. He showed up smiling as always and handed us a tiny fun size Snickers each, oh and one for himself and a cold icy half litre of dirty water. Thanks Pap.


Pic 1: Matt gets a tough wake up call on pitch one, day 2
Pic 2: An amazing pitch space walking on the 'Moon.......'
Pic 3: Day 4, we join the Moonflower route- Matt enjoying the 'Vision' pitch

Pic4: Matt and Jon happy back on terra-firma!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

'The Cartwright Connection'

Unrelenting spindrift avalanches and gusty winds constantly blasted and buffeted our portaledge. Our small cocoon of saftey on this harsh and hostile mountain was slowly being engulfed, as we nervously watched the snow level rise up the fly walls. Five of the toughest days climbing of our lives it had taken to get to this point and our chances of reaching the top of the North Buttress were quickly diminishing. There was nothing we could do about it and the forecast was for more snow and stronger winds over the upcoming days....

After our previous recce the first day on the wall went smoothly and things were going to plan. That night was less so as we realised the perils of hanging our portaledge on a 60 degree ice slope. We were awakened by the bang of the ledge as it suddenly collapsed and transformed into a hammock! On day two we faced many uncertainties with finding a way through some very complex and steep terrain full of overhanging snow mushrooms. Matt fort hard leading all day and finally got us in position below the steepest rock band of the climb at about 2am. By overcoming these difficulties our confidence grew and for the first time ever I started to think that we might have a small chance of getting up this climb! Day three was steep and scary.... thinly iced slabs, overhanging cracks, loose rock to aid climb up, a pitch of vertical ice and more. We finally got to bed at 6am! Day four we joined the Moonflower route and our new route was on- we just needed a little luck with the weather. Day five it snowed and wind blew.....

After being trapped in the ledge all day at 9 pm we sensed a slight lull in the storm and could see glimpses of the sun through the clouds. We were both thinking exactly the same thoughts...this might be our one and only chance so lets take it. With no food left there was no point in playing a waiting game. We quickly packed a stove, spare gloves, warm jackets and a minimal rack. Our goal to reach the top of the Buttress, 500m and 13 pitches of climbing above us. In reality knowing the chances of success being negligible. Two pitches later the snow started up again and we were battling hard against forceful spindrift. The cold was almost unbearable but some how our optimism and unwillingness to give-in was winning through. In a dream like state of exhaustion we stood at the top of the face at 5am, few words were said, with no comprehension of what we had just achieved. We just knew we had to start abseiling with haste. 38 abseils and 14 hours later we were back on the glacier and collapsed, having been awake for 36 hours. We have named the route 'The Cartwright Connection' in memory of my good friend Jules as it was his vision to attempt this line.

Pic 1: Loving the ledge!
Pic 2: Jon hanging out with the haul bag
Pic 3: The portaledge before the storm hit
Pic 4: Jon battling steep mixed terrin, day 3
Pic 4: Finally at the Cornice Bivi, 5am on day 6

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

And the BOYS are off...

Yes you heard me, after doing a 2 way radio to 2 way radio weather report, relaying the details. After about an hour of deliberation, Matt gave me a call back (9pm this evening) and told me that as it appears that the weather is only going to get worse. Both Jon and Matt have decided to leave their Porta-ledge within an hour and mission up tonight while they still have a chance of reasonable weather. The forecast for the 50 to 70mph winds is for Thursday and onwards... So far the nights have been fairly mellow, so hoping that the same applies tonight.

Best of luck to the boys... fingers crossed everyone.


Wind, wind and more wind.....

Been pretty blustery down here in BC. Infact it has been the strongest winds so far and the almighty wind gods might only be getting warmed up for the nights events. I look down to the other camps below and watch them all running around trying to secure their tents. Funnily enough that is exactly what I have been doing for the past hour. Securing all the tents, putting things away that might blow away... yeah the solar panels and all.. also been rebuilding things (well in fairness, I have been stealing snow bricks from Matt and Jons compound and using them to strengthen up the rest of camp..ie. my tent area.) My hands and face where being ice blasted a little while ago while getting the camera out and filming some insane wind.... totally numb!!!!!

While writing this, I got a call from Matt. Seems like wind wise it is not as bad up there, just getting little doses of spin drift blowing in now and again. But it might have something to do with being tucked away in the spot they have chosen, seems pretty sheltered. (See previous blog posting with picture, at least I hope the entry made it up successfully.... seems like loads of posts have not been successful, the satellite signal keeps dropping now and again without warning.

Anyway, although this wind, weather and climate is pretty hectic at times, I cant help but enjoy just sitting out in the elements being pelted by the wind and snow and feeling numb in my face and hands... and having a big grin on my face. Thinking, what an awesome job! Would not traid it for anything in the world.



It was hard, but I am sure you can see why. A white porta-ledge on a snow back ground with cloud cover. Luckly had a break with the clouds... and was able to find them.

All thanks to my target shooting days when I was practicing to be a sniper.


5 Cool things about living on a glacier.

1. The 10 second rule does not apply... when you drop food on the floor you can pick it up in your own time (in a minute, an hour or a day) , lick off all the snow and eat the scrumptious little morsel.

2. No more vacuuming or sweeping...just let it melt.

3. You get to wear sunglasses 24/7... and that has to be cool.

4. You dont need a fridge or a freezer. The perfect location for a Fosters Beer advert... "Always best served chilled"

5. You can wear a black bag over your head and there is nobody around to take the piss out of you.


News Update

It is snowing again, phoned up for the weather and it definately does not seem like it is going to improve over the next 3 days. On Thursday onwards there are 50 to 70mph SE winds predicted at 14 000ft and above.... although we are not at this Altitude, Jon tells me that it will have a big effect in terms of blowing and dumping snow down on them on their decent down the North Face. Their hope is to be back in BC by Thursday, so lets hope things are good for a go tomorrow.

Otherwise, on the home front. It is currently dumping snow at a fair rate down here. but my solar charing system is a cable and a half away from my tent, so in the true spirit of laziness, I am currently sitting out in the snow, under a black bag typing this entry. Why a black bag you ask? Well...like I said... in the true spirit of laziness ;)


Height comparison

So I have been asked by Matt's dad to give him an idea as to how high this cliff really is... He seems to think he could walk up this monster of a cliff in an afternoon. He cant understand why they are taking so long. So I gave him some homework to find out how high a well known landmark is.... He came back with Nelson Column which is 51.5 meters. So I have overlayed that with the cliff to give you all an idea. Basically, where we walked up to the very base of the mountain before using skis where impractical and where we had to use crampons... It is some 80meters or so before you hit the ice above.... so think my Drawing of Lord Nelson "aka Jon on a stick" ...does do justice to the distance.... The top of the cliff is 1400 meters heigh.


Sitting Tight (Resend as only the picture rocked up) [Delayed Attachment: IMG_7352 marker_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_7352 marker_RS.jpg

Day 4 Morning Update (Resend as only my nose picture rocked up....)

I have just got off the radio with the boys. It seems like I have totally underestimated how insanely hardcore these guys are. Yesterday they had breakfast and started packing up their stuff and porta-ledge around 7am and started climbing around 8am. I got a radio update last night around 9/ 10pm (that is a solid climbing day), they said they where going to carry on climbing for a bit but I only found out this morning that they continued climbing till around 1am and only got their stuff sorted, porta-ledge up and a brew on the boil at 5 am this morning.... got to sleep around 6am (the sun rises at 7am. I think I woke them up with my radio when I called them an hour ago as I had not heard from them yet (obviously now I can see why now.... they where sleeping)...haha. Now I am sure there are those of you that have done similar long missions.... but this is the first one I have witnessed doing it on such hard terrain and such extreme conditions.

Well done boys!

Anyway, so far everything is going according to schedule, their plan it to carry on hauling everything up today to the third ice field and then spend the night there. Tomorrow, the plan is to continue up to the top of the face and then all the way to the summit of Mt Hunter. The Summit is not essential in claiming a new route on the North Face, but weather permitting, they have always intended on doing the full summit for that "feel good feeling". The weather report is for 40mph SE winds tomorrow, and while the face North Face is protecting them from those winds at the moment, when they walk up and onto the ridge and head to the summit they will be in the line of fire... so fingers crossed they can realise their dream for the full assent.

I thought I would give you a break from my MS Paint skills with the mountain, and treat you to a close up of my cracked nose...;) Yes that is snot, but my nose is too sore to actually clean, so I figure I would just leave it there for your enjoyment.


Sitting Tight [Delayed Attachment: IMG_7352 marker_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_7352 marker_RS.jpg

Monday, May 16, 2011

GOOD NEWS from the boys!

Matt:" Do you recieve over"
David: "Hi Matt, yes I can hear you, whats going on, on your side"
Matt: "I thought you said their was no forcast for Precipitation"

It seems like Matt had just had about half a ton of fresh snow avalanche over him of which most of it he swallowed.

But otherwise, I have just had a fantastically informative and entertaining long radio call. Tonight is the first night that they have not been climbing for ages or totally knackered. It is about 9pm and they are all snug in the porta-ledge cooking up a storm. I was asked what I was eating for dinner...Rotelle Pasta with fried up onions and garlic, tinned peas, tinned beans, tinned carrots, tinned tuna and some tomato sauce sprinkled all over stuff with cheese..BASTARD! Matt shouts over the radio... he says they would do anything for a bowl of that right now... I suspect that both Matt and Jon are sick of their chicken Pot pie bagged boil meals.. Seems like Matt even drew the short straw as Jon also had mash with his pot pie...."Bastard!" I hear again! "How come I dont have mash with my pot pie" Jon laughing in the back ground.

So it seems like tonight has been the best place for pitching their porta-ledge... it is actually hanging tonight rather than being on a slight slope like the previous nights. Apparently they where all shitting themseleves last night, or should I rather say this morning when they actually got to sleep. It seems like their porta-ledge collapsed on them and totally sandwiching them amoungst the straps. They could hardly move to see what was going on and they where wondering if their anchor points had bailed on them and they where about to plumet to the bottom of the mountain.... Well it all seems to be ok, they made it through the night and are now based one pitch below the 3rd Ice band.

It has been snowing a great deal over the past 6 hours and winds are forcast for 35mph tomorrow... so will see how they get on with making it to the cornise or to the summit... all dependent on wind and snow and temperature... you get the picture...

Anyway, on reserve battery now so no time for spell checks.... apologies


Friend or Food

I am a bit of a social character..and being in BC alone has got me thinking about many things about being on my own for long periods of time.... About how one could easily become wrapped up in their own little world loosing all sense of social etiquette and communication skills. Becoming some what of a Hermit. How you might start to crave friendship and start to humanise certain inanimate objects like my favorite actor Tom Hanks did on Cast Away with his ball Wilson or Coconut Joe... How you might eventually crave for food and begin to eat things you might not otherise even consider, (in an attempt of survival of course). So been thinking over the past few days if I was up here all on my own for months on end, how would I deal with the occasional passer by, I mean would I befriend them and invite them in for coffee, or would I cunningly lure the cold and hungry critter in from the path, splashing big words like... Hot Coffee, Cheese, Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Tinned fruit around and when their gaurd is down, do I trap them in a snow pit and add them to my food stash....I mean one can one handle so much tinned carrots and tinned beans on rice.

And dont tell me you have not thought about it before. This is the second expedition I have been on where the entire group/ majority have already decided who is being eaten first if the food runs out.... Yes you guessed it.... they always chose me.... Why do I look so juicy and tender?


PS... no word from the boys yet... it is only mid day, but the clouds are blocking the view of the buttress so cant even follow them with the binos.. will drop you a message later when I get word.

Spotting of the boys.......

Because of having no power last night, I was unable to update all you folks as to the progress of the boys on the North Face. It was a mighty exciting day. They where heading in the part of the route that appeared to be the most challenging... (just to the left of the shaft, just over 2/3 of the way up the face) The intention was to do another flyby but as soon as I got a call from the boys and made my way down to the landing strip the clouds moved in and spent the rest of the day on standby waiting for both the weather and a plane to be available for a flyby...this never happened which was a real shame...was just to dangerous for flying... anyway, was not able to see them for most of the day, but on returning back to the fort, I could see glimpses of them through the clouds, having dinner (alone again)doing some filming and giving my Mom a quick call back home in South Africa, I got a radio call from Matt around 10pm, really excited, had a quick chat about things. But they where still on the wall climbing and planned to crack on for a couple more hours until they reached the ice band a couple pitches above. Matt said in a super excited voice " We doing it man, we really doing it" he further went on to say that although it was going to be a long day, getting up to the ice band above would be a good motivational step for them, hence the mission....

Anyway, so far so good. Well keep you all posted.


BC Living...

So while I have the opportunity, I thought I would let you all know just a little bit about what goes into the day to day living in temporary -20 deg C living environment. Well, firstly, it really is fantastic. We moved away from the drama that goes on in the Main BC where the plane flew us in. Just too many people and it is much nicer being up hear, nearer the North Buttress and just dealing with the few people passing by in smaller doses. We have gained ourselves a bit of a reputation down in the village... "the boys in a fortress" But this is not in an attempt to show off with who has the biggest......... The walls around the tents act as a very good enclosure and have found on many occasions that there is almost a little micro climate going on inside, out of the wind.

So as one would expect we have our own communal/ kitchen area, the office/ charging station with desk and all, our toilet area (housing those miniature barrels I mentioned earlier) and driveway, an outside entertainment/ BBQ area (used on those lovely summer days) and like every home, we also have a southern and western Snow Block Quarry.

The reason for the quarry's is we built our enclosure using snow blocks cut out of the lower firmer snow. Using a snow saw and a couple snow shovels, dozens of cups of tea and we where quickly able to fashion up our own castle... great day out for the whole family...

Our communal area/ kitchen is mostly submerged into the snow, with a trench for our legs and a higher surfaces along 3 of the sides which act as a counter top and a bench chair...we have used a kinda fly sheet with 2 vertical poles as a roof and it is overall very cosy.. and having a snow countertop is brilliant, you can store and clean your knives just by giving it a quick stab, pots and cups of hot coffee or tea just sink into the countertop... so after a couple days, it needs refurbing as it just looks like a block of swiss cheese. Perhaps a sheet of thin ply wood would work better for a long stay. We have of course sheets of wood for the gas stove, otherwise we would have melted a hole right through the glacier by now..

Drinking wise, we have to melt snow, a lot of snow, luckily we have 3 gallons of white fuel which seem to be working well for the time we are here. Also lucky that white fuel does not freeze either...haha

Toilets wise, the national parks board have issued everyone with a small barrel called a CMC (clean mountain container) which I suspect is purely because people where sick of saying pooh barrel. Basically, it is just big enough for 1 operation, so if you fancy a number 1 and a number 2 at the same time..forget it.... you have to pinch your number 1 until it is safe enough to stand up and release the number 1 valve.... it is a guy thing.... I am sure you all know what I am talking about. After discussing this barrel down in the village with the locals, one also mentioned that perhaps issuing barrels in sizes like you do clothing might also be a good idea. (There are some hefty Americans and really miniaturise the barrels, making it look like they are relieving themselves into a Coke Can.)

Washing.... well if you are talking cutlery, plates and pots.... we just using a paper towel, so if you are a micro biologist, you can probabaly still find samples of food on everything from day 1... If you talking washing your body.... well we are kinda applying the same principles... but with wet wipes, Nobody has actually washed their hair (otherwise you would just end up with brain freeze).... the boys did have a shave the day before they went up, but after inquiring, they said they wanted to look good for each other in the porta-ledge. Obviously this is not some homo-erotic thing, but I can see their point, being crammed up together on a tiny suspended platform for so many days, having some respectable looking chap within your immediate vicinity would be alot more appealing than having a competitor for the hairiest man of the mountain award sleeping right next to you.

Walking around, well we are on a glacier so you have to ideally walk around in pairs, all roped up carrying cravas rescue gear. Or if you like me, all on your own, you can wonder around this enclosure and wait for people passing by and ask them if they can take you out for a bit of a walk....

To keep warm, you basically have to put everything on that you own.... the temperature and sun exposure is brutal and if you not freezing you are getting sun burn/ snow burn, your lips, nose and skin starts to crack, your finger tips crack, some of my didgits have lost their feeling for a couple hours (even when you are warm and cozy)... getting used to hotaches (it is a regular thing).... getting kinda addictive now... like going out to get yet another tattoo. (Not that I have any tattoo's, just saying they could open little hotache centres all over the country where you stick a limb in a blast freezer while having a cup of Java or something and enjoy the after effects driving back home or something)

So think that is enough for now, I am writing this while my camera is occupied with a time-laps, but as soon as it am finished, I am going to take a picture of this pooh barrel and post it on the blog.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

call from the boys

I just got a radio call from the boys. They have reached their objective for the day, they are now based below the Shaft which is about 2/3 of the way up the face. They did not have much time to sit and chat about their days climbing. The sun was setting on the wall and they still had to put up their porta-ledge..... was getting pretty cold, so just got down to the nitty gritty and had a quick chat about weather reports and the likes... There has been a lot of cloud this afternoon with a slight sprinkling of snow. So not the lovely warm late afternoon sun on the face that they might have been hoping for.

Otherwise all is good here in BC.


Pic 1. Arrow indicating where they are setting up camp for the night.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2nd Spotting on Day 2

I am sitting around basecamp charging, filming and doing other odd jobs. For the past 3 hours there has been loads of clouds rolling into the area.(for once the weather report has been somewhat accurate).The boys have been climbing up a gully and added with the clouds, I have not been able to see them since earlier this morning. I am assuming the last few pitches have been absolutely knarly as they have only ascended some 80 meters with a bunch of traversing on some scary terrain. They have only made about 1/4 of the progress made yesterday. But that said, they still have around 6 hours of sun light to get to the base of the main gully where they had hoped to reach by the end of today. (several pitches above them).


2nd Spotting on Day 2

I am sitting around basecamp charging, filming and doing other odd jobs. For the past 3 hours there has been loads of clouds rolling into the area.(for once the weather report has been somewhat accurate).The boys have been climbing up a gully and added with the clouds, I have not been able to see them since earlier this morning. I am assuming the last few pitches have been absolutely knarly as they have only ascended some 80 meters with a bunch of traversing on some scary terrain. They have only made about 1/4 of the progress made yesterday. But that said, they still have around 6 hours of sun light to get to the base of the main gully where they had hoped to reach by the end of today. (several pitches above them).


The biggest day sofar... resend (yesterdays blog entry)

Today started at 6am and surprisingly it was only -12 deg C so a pretty warm start. Although my boots still seem to be giving me problems, I still have not figured out a way to stop my boots from freezing. By the time I go to bed they are frozen and despite putting them in my sleeping bag (which is no fun at all) they are still frozen in the morning, I have tried using them as a pillow once and also spent one night with them on my feet inside my bag... Anyway, the point I am getting too, is that I spent the majority of this morning trying to tie up and tighten my frozen boots and laces, it is like trying to bend plate steel... infact I broke my one lace, but in hindsight, I dont actually need laces... the boots where certainly not coming off.... what I really needed was a vice or a g-clamp to bend the leather.

So being the cameraman filming Matt and Jon and their attempt on Mt Hunter, I have to be around all the action, this morning had me rushing on ahead to the start of the route. I wanted to get a couple specific shots, one was a brilliant low angle shot of the sun just peaking over the mountains, contoured snow landscape as a foreground, the North Buttress in the back ground while the boys walking past on their skis, snow being picked up by the light wind... sun light flairing into the lens.... whooo... a camera mans dream....mmm..this of course didnt materialise like I had planned as the sun only showed itself about 20 seconds after the boys had walked passed and out of shot...grrr. What a lot of effort for nothing. There I was face planted in the snow, rolling around with my skis still attached....looking like a total muppet and had nothing to show for it.

So we are now at the base of the route, and after prepping the biggest rack of gear, getting strapped up with all that lovely sharp ice climbing equipment and readying the porta-ledge and haul bag for its journey, Matt and Jon headed up on their amazing adventure. Matt wearing some crazy new bright orange Patagonia outfit (which although looks like some prisoner outfit, it looks amazing on camera and can be seen from miles away) and Jon being a bit more reserved in his choice of clothing, (blue and green). Both giving a short message to camera and then heading up the face... I was filming them on their first 2 pitches from down below, dodging chunks of snow and ice hurtling towards me, Luckly I had Al Lee's massive wide angle lens on the camera, so perfect for hiding behind to protect my head from projectiles :)

I soon made my way back to our ice fortress to phone TAT (Talkeetna Air Taxi) to book some fly bys to film the boys on the route... they where planning on making their first camp at the top of the Prow (1/3 of the way up the face) and the plan was to catch them on that part of the face as it is pretty dramatic..... plane was booked.... 2.30/ 3pm..... only problem was, I didnt have a watch.... so now I am trying to figure out time based on sun positions based on sun rise, lunch times, the time-lapse footage I have been doing and the daily 8pm radio weather update and radio trivia quize game played amoungest everyone in the mountains.... pretty cool actually, time for everyone to connect with each other. (had cool radio chatter today discussing a troublesome route amoungst other climbers..) Anyway, point being, is I got down to the main BC and air strip by 2.10.... how is that for estimation.. :)

Until this point I had not been able to see the boys on the route as it can only be seen from higher up on the glacier... but based on the discussions with Matt and Jon, they would be on the Prow and true to form.. that is exactly where they where.. making really good ground, Jon was some 20 meter higher up with Matt in his lumo orange getup and with all the haul bag and porta-ledge. The only problem was, it took 4 passes on the plane to actually find them, and despite booking the plane for 30min the pilot only had enough fuel for 15min and only got 2 useble passes.... The best and most scary part of the whole adventure, was taking the door off and strapping myself in my harness, sitting on the plane floor and had my legs dangling out the side.... my gosh the wind was so cold... not only did my hands become totally numb but my eyes where watering and the air inside my lungs felt like it was being sucked out of my body.... WOW.... what a crazy fun experience.. Anyway, got a couple cool shots, some lovely arial footage of the area, but on the next flyby, will make sure the pilot has a full tank.

So tonight and for the next 5 or 6 nights, I am on my own here at BC and cooking for one really is not that much fun, I am being tempted by the massive slab of cheese, the tinned fruit and green and blacks chocolate bars.... that would easily sustain me for a week :) all the fresh veg is gone (despite the frozen onions, oh yes, frozen onions don't make your eyes water.... tip for all you budding cooking enthusiasts), but now I am just left with frozen tinned veg which is really rubbish....got to spoon out all the melted carrot and bean water after is has melted and spoilt all the other ingredients in the pan....

It is now 9.30pm ish....the sun has set about an hour ago and the temperature reads -15 deg C... in about another hour or so it will prob be -20 deg C.... it has become the norm for night time (thank goodness there is no major wind yet) so here I am shivering away tying this blog, yes you guessed it... my boots are frozen again.... Anyway, just had a radio call from the boys who are still in the setting sun higher up on the face, they are chilling in their porta-ledge above the Prow, making a brew...I could hear the JetBoil stove firing away on all cylinders..... what a comforting sound these stoves makes when you are faced with such low temperatures.... think I am going to put a brew on the boil now too.

More blogging action to follow.... got so much to tell, from how I have solved the frozen olive oil problem, our solar charging and sat phone blogging setup, Matts down booties that I have pinched for the rest of the week and these stupidly small barrels everyone is issued for poohing in and of course international mountaineering clothing trends and lots lots more.... stay tuned.


Pic 1. Boys on the wall.

Pic 2. The Plane.


I just spotted Matt with the binos in his bright orange outfit about 2 pitches above from where they spent the night in their porta-ledge. Their plan is to ascend about another 200meters today and set up camp before attempting this almight crack tomorrow....Planning on getting a plane in again for that... should be spectacular.

The weather has been absolutely fantastic sofar, blue skies and no wind, but the boys are climbing higher up and in the shade so could be a totally different story up there.... There are some light clouds rolling in with more clouds and more winds expected over the next few days.

Assuming of course my last super long blog update was successfull, otherwise this one would make little sense... had problems last night uploading as the signal kept dropping out. I have my informants, so if not, I will repost it.


Pic 1. Time-lapes action with tracking, panning and tilting.... wow... what you can do with a tent peg and a piece of string...:)

The biggest day so far.... [Delayed Attachment: IMG_9863 markers_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_9863 markers_RS.jpg

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Amazing day climbing on the face. [Delayed Attachment: SAM_0603_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: SAM_0603_RS.jpg

Amazing days climbing on the face [Delayed Attachment: R0011810_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: R0011810_RS.jpg

Amazing day climbing on the face. [Delayed Attachment: SAM_0614_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: SAM_0614_RS.jpg

Legs + arms full of lactic...

After our efforts yesterday climbing the first ten pitches of our planned line and then abseiling off, we had a well deserved lie in this morning back in BC. The big storm that was forecast never really materialised, but that's a common theme with unpredictable weather up here in the Alaskan Range....

After lunch Matt and I went for a short ski tour up the glacier to stretch our aching legs and also to get a view through binoculars of a crucial linking pitch above the 'Prow'. We gained some useful knowledge for route finding and can't wait to get back up there after a wee rest.

Dave Reeves has been busy doing lots of time-lapse photography and filming- this place must be a photographers dream. Though the hardest task for Dave is the constant charging of batteries on the solar pannels as he's taking so many pictures and film footage.


Pic 1: View from our camp towards the North Buttress of Mt Hunter

Amazing day climbing on the face (Pics 3,4 and 5) [Delayed Attachment: R0011810_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: R0011810_RS.jpg

Monday, May 9, 2011

Time for some action...

It was a struggle to get out of bed this morning due to a frigid, arctic wind blowing down the glacier. The thermometer read -10 Celsius inside my tent, and I was happy to be snuggled amongst over a kilo of down feathers. Poor Dave was shivering away next door in his budget Argos excuse of a sleeping bag.
Today was a day of relaxing and sorting out climbing equipment for our planned recce mission tomorrow. The forecast is for cloud and 20mph NE winds, but we have decided to try and climb up the lower part of the face to check out conditions. We will abseil down before the forecast evening storm comes in. For Wednesday we are expecting quite heavy snowfall along with 60mph northerly winds, so will be hunkered down in camp until the weather breaks.
The long range outlook is good for the end of the week so fingers crossed!


Pic 1: Jon and Matt sorting the biggest rack this side of Yosemite

Getting BC organised and recce [Delayed Attachment: IMG_3450_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_3450_RS.jpg

Snowy days.... [Delayed Attachment: IMG_3572_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_3572_RS.jpg

Base Camp Reached [Delayed Attachment: IMG_3360_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_3360_RS.jpg

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Newbie

So after a couple prods from the boys to write about my first night, I have finally sat down to write a little bit of my experience from the first couple of days.

Firstly, first major issue, convincing the pilot of the plane to change the whole safety start up sequence in order to film some cool close up external shots...... no chance. Next major issue was putting my gloves in the bottom of my pack for when we arrived on the glacier... then crawiling around in the snow with my t-shirt and my dog-eared trekking trousers.... took a while to get feeling back into all things attached to my torso.
The next fun was the sledging up a hill.... now, I cant ski, but all of a sudden, I am clipping my hiking boots into ski's and hauling a heavy sledge up a hill.... WHAT a MISSION.... talk about 2 steps foward and 3 steps back... took me like an hour to climb about 25m in height gain.

So we're now at the top of the little hill and have set up our BC. that was pretty cool..... while the boys went back to get the next load, I was digging the largest hole of my life... but we now have a BC that puts the main BC to shame.... like tent city now... :)

Last night was freezing, could have put on a warm jacket but was using it as a pillow... and did'nt fancy using the sat phone hard case as a pillow and just froze all night instead...

Oh yes... a piss bottle. the first time I have used one, pretty interesting using it, but well worth it in the cold. But woke up this morning and had like a litre of frozen piss staring at me.... (was using the warmth of the bottle to warm my hands up, but that did'nt last long)

SO now I am wanting to walk around and take pictures of the lovely sun rise.... BUT my boots where frozen and could not even put them on. Geeee... can things get any worse..... Yes they can..... while stumbling around in boots that felts like 6 sizes to small, I was setting up the solar panel which...yes... you guessed it... all the terminals had frozen too.... :) easy problem to solve, right? yeah you just suck on the terminals and melt the ice.... SHOCK...!!! its a 12Volt supply stupid! hahaha

Breakfast time, boots have melted and my feet are slowly thawing and started feeling happy that I could walk around without pain, when all of a sudden I was hobbling around in pain... the boys where laughing their heads off... yes ... Hotaches..... WOW... had it on my hands before but when you standing on your feet and get it...different story completely..

Tonight, I am going to find another pillow and actually wear my £360 down jacket and wear every item of clothing I own. I am going to sleep with my piss bottle and the boots... not quite figured out what I am going to do with them... perhaps one of the boys has space in their sleeping bag for my boots...

Dave (The Pap)

Getting BC organised and recce [Delayed Attachment: IMG_3425_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_3425_RS.jpg

Getting BC organised and recce [Delayed Attachment: IMG_3508_RS.jpg]

Delayed Attachment: IMG_3508_RS.jpg

Friday, May 6, 2011

In Talkeetna & ready for the off!

We arrived in Talkeetna yesterday having left a dreary overcast Anchorage, and were greeted by a glorious sunny afternoon. Amazing views across the Talkeetna river into the Alaska Range with Mt Foraker, Mt Hunter, Denali, and the Mooses Tooth dominating the horizon. We had a minor panic after out transfer bus drove off back towards Anchorage with our food supplies for the next three weeks onboard...

Beautiful crisp and sunny start this morning and hopefully we should be flying into the mountains within the next hour! We're all really excited and can't wait to get climbing.

Pic 1: The Talkeetna River
Pic 2: Checking out our new ledge in the comfort of Talkeetna Air Taxis' shed

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sat phone photo test 2

Sorry folkes, forgot to disable the wireless internet... this time it is sent on the sat phone.


Alaska Landing and Prep

Arrived here in Anchorage, not sure if it was yesterday the day before
yesterday or today! We woke up at Earth B&B all still pretty jaded
after the long trip over, we have spent the day sorting gear, doing
food shopping and most importantly drinking large amounts off
capuccino, before un packing and then re packing to get the equipment
sorted for the taxi ride up to Talkeetna in the morning.
Pic 1. Stopover in Minneapolis
Pic 2. Matt having his daily fix.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alaska bound..

Our journey begins today with the long flight westwards across the Atlantic towards Anchorage. This is probably one of the scariest parts of the whole trip for me as I'm not a big lover of flying. Although the hardest part is going to be saying goodbye to my wife and Joshua, my little boy!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Posing Productions' join the Team

Alastair Lee from Posing Productions has decided to dispatch one of his top cameramen to film our exploits in Alaska. Having produced several award winning climbing films, like The Asguard Project, On Sight, and Psyche we are very happy that these guys want to be part of our expedition.
Watch this space....

Monday, April 25, 2011

Peak Training Week

With just over one week now until we leave for Alaska training hits max intensity and volume! Matt has been hitting the hill running hard with 6 laps up to la Flegere per session, high volume PE (power endurance) bouldering, and 3 hours of circuit training per day. I've been out on my road bike doing more volume, plus better times on my regular TT route up to Col des Montets (although still a long way off my PB set a year ago when I was still doing ski alpinism racing), skinning, bouldering, dry tooling, running, and circuit training when my eight month old son Joshua is asleep!!
Today we had another session at la Balme (Arve Valley limestone) getting slicker at aid/big wall techniques- not our normal style but we are going prepared for all eventualities.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Training hard and getting organised!

During April we have been stepping up the training to make sure we are is the best possible shape for Alaska. Alongside working as IFMGA mountain guides and having plenty of big days out in the mountains, we try and fit in at least 20 hours/week of specific training:
1) Endurance - running/road cycling
2) Resistance- circuit training/weights/hill reps
3) Climbing specific- bouldering/dry tooling

Yesterday we went for a climb together on the North face of Les Courtes in the Argentiere basin, which was great fun and it really helps with mental preparation to be climbing together in the weeks proceeding an expedition. We soloed the Swiss route in 1hr42mins going at a steady pace (av. heart rate for Jon 150bpm) and then down-climbed the NE face back to our skis.
We also had a day rock climbing in the sun at Balme this week. We used the day to practice different hauling systems as we may end up taking a haul bag on Mount Hunter due to the sustained technical difficulties we foresee.
Recent evenings have been spent getting all our logistics sorted, and we have also received some good news from the British Mountaineering Council in that they have offered us an expedition grant.
 Matt Helliker on the Swiss Route, Les Courtes N face
Jon Bracey descending the East ridge of Les Courtes