Sunday, June 14, 2009

Check it out!

This kid has contributed in a huge way to climbing here in Juneau. Certainly pulling on the hardest problems and routes in town, and giving me something to aspire to!

Mt. Jumbo

I know, I promised this would be a guide...and it will be eventually. But for now, I want to let everyone know about these new areas - after all, its damn hard to make a guidebook for an area that isn't developed! The latest place I checked out is Mt. Jumbo, and it is beautiful. Sure, there are easier spots to get to, but if you have a long day and want to go for a bit of a hike, Jumbo is the place. To get there you follow the snow machine trail the whole way up into the basin. If you don't know where the snow machine trail is, you literally make a right at Louie's (the only bar on Douglas. Stop in for a beer afterward - I dare you) and just walk straight up the hill. Seriously - thats it. After a little ways, you will hit the treadwell ditch trail. Turn left on it and keep yours eyes out for the continuation of the snow machine trail on your right! From here, it is muskeg and beautiful alpine meadows the whole way up. It is incredible up there. For now, there is nothing scrubbed and a lot of stuff is still under snow. Bring a shovel and a brush!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Projects

This is going to be the the best sport climbing in Juneau. Incredible rock, long routes (by our standards), and harder grades. Aside from a couple of trad lines, everything here seems to be checking in at 5.11(?) or harder (but don't let that intimidate you, hang a top rope and throw yourself at them). Oh, and the view is pretty ideal. Getting there is part of the adventure, too. You are going to need a canoe or a kayak to get to them, but I promise that it is worth it. Put in at the visitor center (prepare yourself for camera flashes and silly questions from tourists) and paddle out beyond Nugget Falls. Keep an eye out on your right for a little inlet with a beach that has some boulders on it. Beach your boat here, but pull it up really high - we almost lost our canoe once when the glacier calved - seriously.

This is the first bolted route on the wall, Hustlin'. It follows a diagonal seam up a steep (really steep wall). Juneau's most formidable route?

So, these pictures were out of order...this one should have been the last one. The head wall at the top of this photo is incredible and has at least a couple of routes on it (cross your fingers for a mild 5.10...) and is going to be unreal. It will start one pitch up, and climb 80-90 feet on overhanging rock with Mendenhall Lake below you and the glacier in the background. Just look at it - its pretty.

These images are going to have red lines showing routes as soon as I get my photoshop up and running. In this picture, the weakness on the left is a brilliant climb. Stepping up to it, I thought it would be cake - next thing I knew, the whole crew was getting spanked on it. Props to Tyler for making it to the top of this thing in the first session. And Hunter damn near flashed it. There are TR anchors at the top on the ledge and it will soon be equipped. Also, there is a piton in the middle of the route. No, it is isn't an ancient relic of climbing in the 50's (this place was under ice until the '80s), but rather a display of some gear shop putz "learning" how to use pins. Seriously, bad job Tim. And stop dry-tooling on the routes, too.

Moving on, the brownish bit of rock in the center of the frame just above the patch of alders is another route. It has a really bouldery start on good holds. While all of the holds are alright, they tend to be a tad slopey - this is going to be an exciting lead!

This should have been the first picture. The bulge you see just right of center frame is Glacier Smoothy. It is a trad line with a bit of a bite. Rob, on his FA (congrats), decided it clocked in around 5.7 - when he referred to it as "old school", I knew I was doomed. Tyler, upon following rob, decided it was more like 5.9 A0 (pulling on a cam proves helpful at the bulge). Myself...well, I've honestly climbed far easier 5.10's in Squamish, been less scared soloing, and placed less gear in four pitches than I did on this 80-90 foot route. I may have even shed a few tears on the last mantle. So, yeah - we'll call it 5.7 - but you've been warned. When you look at it from the ground, you're going to expect it to be 5.5, at least I did.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

So stoked!

Hunter and I have been scrubbing and climbing almost daily at Tee Harbor...but I have yet to see anyone else out there. For real, you have to check this spot out - we've got 15-16 new problems out there, and still more to do!

Until it stops raining - check out this pic of Hunter on the Golden Path!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Tee Harbor boulders...

You need to get there, and soon. Quick approach, incredible scenery and some of the best problems in Juneau. For real. This place is brand-spankin'-new, so there are all sorts of things to be found and done. To get there, you drive out just beyond the turn-off for Tee-Harbor and past the fire station on the right. On the left, just at the end of a guard rail, you will park at the first pull off. Remember your manners, the parking on this side of the road is for people who have houses (with the most incredible views of the Chilkats) down on the beach below. Don't block their steps and don't take up their whole parking area... you should be able to squeeze in just beyond the guard rail. Now, take a look up the hill across the street - yep, those are the boulders! A couple of minutes after parking, you'll be climbing. The main boulder you see at the top of the hill is the Room With A View boulder. It has several problems on it - a lot of them are featured on the video - the first arete you come up to is Triceradactyl Vjuggy, the left hand face of that is Beached Whale V0, Room With A View V3 is pretty obvious and the arete on the far side of the overhanging face is Pteroceratops V1. The walk off is down the top of Pteroceratops.

The RWAV boulder is the most obvious bloc, for sure, but explore a bit and you will find the Quartz Boulder, the All Your Waters Boulder and some others that no one has climbed anything on yet. Bring a brush and have at it! If you don't see chalk on it, it probably has never been tried. Let me know if you find anything good!

The highlights (in my opinion) are certainly Chill Cats and All Your Waters on the AYW boulder and Room With A View. These three problems alone are worth the drive. This is a shot of myself on All Your Waters V7. Still have yet to get have to pull awfully hard on an awfully tiny crimp.

And this is Jessie MF Palomino on the FA. Props, for sure on this one.

Here is a clip I put together of some of the easier Tee Harbor problems. It was really just a ploy to get everyone to check out the Passion Pit...

Tee Harbor Bouldering from Brandon Howard on Vimeo.

If you don't feel like being in the woods, walk down to the beach and check out this rock...

And because I've been slacking lately, here is a closing picture from the Projects... where's that you say? Next time on Juneau Climbing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Lookout Boulder

The Lookout Boulder is the huge bloc you see behind Fred Meyer. Look up beyond the clearing, you can't miss. However, getting there is not as straight forward as walking through the clear cut. I'll post directions and pictures of the boulder with the routes drawn on next - but for now, here is video of two of my favorite problems on the Lookout. You can find them on the overhanging featured wall. Be warned - if you like figuring things out on your own, don't watch the videos.

Meathook SDS - V3
This problem is all of five moves, and only two are hard. It is still one of my personal favorites up there. Start on the lowest obvious crimps and head straight up the wall. Best of luck to you on the mantle...

Meathook SDS from Brandon Howard on Vimeo.

Natural Selection - V2
This problem is great - good movement on interesting holds. It starts on the same crimps as Meathook, but traverses left to a very satisfying finish.

Natural Selection from Brandon Howard on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

An online climbing guide...eventually

This is going to be an interesting experiment. I have been wanting to do a Juneau climbing guide book for sometime now. Juneau has a lot more climbing than you would expect, but none of it is very concentrated, and getting to areas can be challenging. My goal is to provide information on this blog, and eventually have a comprehensive guide that you could print at home. I plan on including videos of the boulder problems since they tend to be more beta intensive (and in some cases, lets be honest, contrived) than the routes. There have been a lot of new climbs going up lately, and I will try my hardest to document them so that you can get out and climb them yourselves!

For now, here is a video Paul made last year from Granite Creek Basin. Enjoy!