June 28, 2017

Cascades 2017: Mt Baker (10,781'), Mt Rainier (14,411'), and Mt Angeles (6,333')

Two weeks after I returned from Alaska, I met up with some friends who wanted to get into mountaineering on glaciated peaks. Pascal, Laura, Owen, and I met in Seattle on June 17th and spent 9 days traveling around the Cascades on a trip that was 1/3 hardcore, 1/3 pleasure camping, and 1/3 road trip.

June 8, 2017

Denali 2017: Notes from a West Buttress Attempt

From May 13th to June 2nd: Myself, Paul Kaster, Paul Weatherall, Debra, Matt, and Dad (Jim) attempted to summit Denali via its classic trade route, the West Buttress. We spent 8 days on the lower mountain hauling loads of food and gear up to advanced base camp at 14,200', where we spent 11 days acclimating and waiting out bad weather. We finally got a short weather window on the last possible summit day of our schedule, and four of us made a single-push summit attempt from 14,000'. Altitude, poor acclimation, icy conditions, and fatigue kept us from the summit. Matt and Dad made our expedition high point at Denali Pass, around 18,300'. I kept a journal of our expedition, and I've included those notes and musings here in italics. Enjoy!
Denali (20,320') and the Tokositna Glacier from the flight into Basecamp.
Photo: Mike Hasse

December 24, 2016

West Ridge of Atlantic Peak, December 23rd 2016

The Alaska 2016 crew reunited in Summit County, Colorado for a beautiful Christmas Weekend climb of one of Colorado's high 13ers, Atlantic Peak.

November 1, 2016

Expedition Kilimanjaro: 09/30-10/06

After an interesting series of life events, Debra, Jim, Kathryn, and I were invited on a trip to Africa, which included hiking Mount Meru (2nd tallest peak in Tanzania/4566m) as well as an 8 day safari.  As the trip planning developed and Jim realized we'd be close enough to climb Kilimanjaro; it was quickly added to the itinerary and Paul was invited along too.

So Paul, Debra, Jim, and I set to planning, but nothing can truly prepare you for what is most literally a trip of a lifetime.

Our trip was set, and our dreams were quickly becoming a reality.

A fortunate omen, as our plane was named, "The Mount Kilimanjaro" landing at JRO

September 5, 2016

Adventures of Lengthy Leg Cramps on Labor Day via Cutler Loop: 09/05/2016

All the while, a good adventure was had, I'm trying to figure out where my decision making process went awry.

My plan was to seek out and complete a 'short' ride around the famous Cutler Park Loop, known as the easy-access and easy grade cross-country mountain biking circuit close to Boston.

August 9, 2016

A Day Hike for Venture Crew Athens in Maine: 07/24/2016

As per usual, the Venture Crew based in western Pennsylvania scheduled a jam packed weeklong adventure; this year touring the Northeast.  Debra, Brittni, Michael, and I were invited to participate in attempting to summit Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine.  Inspired by our previous weekend warrior trip to CO, we also had Paul join us from Dallas as a few of us prep for a Kilimanjaro expedition.

Our plan was to ascend via the Appalachian Trail (south) from the Katahdin Stream Campground and meet up along the ridge after a bit of class 3 scrambling with our secondary group.  The primary objective; to summit the highest peak in Maine.

Our campground for the night

July 25, 2016

Road Trip: The Grand Circle Part IV

The Incredible Landscapes Continue: 07/09

To close the loop on our trip, the views that we arrived to were continually indescribably magnificent. One might believe that it would be possible to be experience the scale and magnanimity of these vast landscapes in a single trip, but trust us when we say there are plenty of canyons to spend multiple lifetimes exploring just one of these parks.

The view from Imperial Point (highest vista 8,803')
on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Road Trip: The Grand Circle Part III

The Best is Yet to Come: 07/07-08

Soon coming to a close, our grand road trip adventure of the Grand Circle, Debra, Brittni, Kevin, and I headed towards Zion National Park, with only 2 nights of camping, 3 national parks, and ~10hrs of collective driving left.

We arrived at the East Entrance of the park coming from Bryce, and were immediately greeted with immense sandstone mountain faces.  The drive-thru of the park is merely a travel road as the normal park features are now accessed by a regularly scheduled bus, but the views were all too refreshing compared to the previous sandstone canyons we had seen.
Shop dog
Photo Credit: Kevin Barnett

After a quick snafu where the gear shop where we had originally intended to get our water shoes...

July 18, 2016

Road Trip: The Grand Circle Part II

Canyons upon Canyons Oh My! 07/05-06

We're certainly not in Kansas, but the motley crew of Debra, Brittni, Kevin, and I packed up pre-dawn from Moab and headed out to see canyon country.  Albeit our heroic attempt to capture and experience these other worldly places on film, a drive-thru canyon country merely snapshots the lifetimes one can explore these wonders that are our national parks.

The La Sal Range, Utah's second highest mountain range
(left to right) Mt. Waas (12417'), Mt Tukuhnikivatz (12721'), South Mountain (11,818')
Roughly 35 miles away

July 14, 2016

Road Trip: The Grand Circle Part I

Utah Bound: Arches National Park 07/04

One might hear that America's best idea are the National Parks, as is often corroborated by Debra that her one "activity" to experience the USA would definitively be to see the National Parks.  Last year, we blasted off with adventure Brittni's great quest to see all the national parks along with Debra and myself where we got to visit Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Acadia.  This year we've added Kevin, and our first stop, Arches National Park.

Kevin amidst Partition Arch
Kevin amidst Partition Arch

May 31, 2016

Alaska 2016 Part 2: North Face of Pioneer Peak (6,398') with a descent of the Southeast Ridge

Dad, Paul, and I took a gamble by flying out the Alaska Range a bit early in search of better climbing conditions. It paid off with a ~40 hour adventure climb on one of the "little" peaks of the Chugach that rise above Anchorage, Pioneer Peak.

May 30, 2016

Alaska 2016 Part 1: Alaska Range, May 14-24 2016

Climbing in Alaska has been a dream of mine for a long time. I've always associated the Alaskan big mountains with serious alpinism, as if everything else I've done is somehow not quite the same thing. From May 14th to the 28th, my dad, Paul Kaster, and I made the dream come true.

 Our plan was to fly into the Alaska Range and stay at Kahiltna Base Camp (sometimes called Kahiltna International Airport, or KIA) and live among the Denali suitors to climb what's become known as the "basecamp circuit" of technical routes of moderate length, by Alaska standards anyway. More serious alpinists often use these routes as warm ups for some of the giant, career-defining climbs that lurk around the Kahiltna.  As with most things, our plan didn't survive first contact with the enemy. The Alaska Range experienced a fairly abnormal chunk of finicky weather and a load of bad snow, keeping most of the technical climbers in camp. Still, we had an incredible time.

May 3, 2016

Weekend Warrior Pt. 2, Summit County, Colorado: April 30 - May 1 2016

Check out part 1 of my weekend warrior trip to altitude in Colorado if you haven't read it already!
We both agreed side-tabling a 14er was certainly the reasonable and safe thing to do since the original plan detailed a 4am start time.

May 2, 2016

Weekend Warrior Pt. 1, Summit County, Colorado: April 30 - May 1 2016

When Mike invited me out as a partner for a weekend blitz to Colorado, I couldn't say no.

March 21, 2016

A Day of Alpine Climbing: March 19 2016

Spending a day tackling Huntington Ravine is very much a mixed box of chocolates.  My previous attempt a full day of alpine climbing in the ravine resulted in a dislocated shoulder and a broken hand!

March 14, 2016

Alpine Climbing on Mt Washington: March 11th-13th, 2016

Paul traveled East from Colorado in the hopes of doing a shakedown on Katahdin in preparation for our upcoming climbing trip to the Alaska Range in May. Unfortunately the very bad snow cover in the East kept us from reaching Katahdin (the Roaring Brook Road wasn't skiable) so we went up Mt Washington in the hopes of finding anything frozen to climb.

March 6, 2016

Winter Presidential Traverse in a Day: March 5th, 2016

The Presidential Traverse is the name given to the hike that hits every major summit along New Hampshire's Presidential Range. It's a long, continuous ridge about 19 miles and ~9000' of elevation gain from end to end, hitting seven NH 4000' peaks. Five of those peaks are above 5000', and one, Mt Washington, is the monarch of New England at 6288'. Hiking the whole ridge in a day is the crown jewel of New England hiking. In the winter, the game changes.

January 17, 2016

Mount Osceola and East Osceola: January 16 2016

Just one week after running my first marathon,  I really wanted to get my winter feet wet. Finally having signed up for Winter School (WS) with MITOC, I acquired a spot on a hiking trip to Mount Osceola, where the main objective was to enjoy a day in the mountains with the added benefit of having some slightly spicy conditions on our forecast (3-5in of snow).  Mount Osceola had been a previous personal objective of mine since November, but at the time I hadn't wanted to further aggravate my knee injury.
Leaders, Kyle and Jason, planned for us to meet-up at White Mountain Bagel in Lincoln by 8am, grab a quick breakfast, and be at the Greeley Pond Trailhead by 9am with an ultimate turn-around time of 2pm.  This would leave us with an approximate 1mi/hr comfortable pace for 3.6 miles to reach this NH 4k summit,which especially in winter conditions would require essential levels of mountain skills, before heading back to the lot.

January 10, 2016

First Marathon

Angela and Xavier had invited me to participate with them in running our first marathon together at Disney World in Florida.  Traditionally a fun and vacation based marathon, the Disney World Marathon, named runDisney, takes place in Florida during January just after New Years. What may not be obvious to the non-runner is the fact that the training leading up to a mid-winter marathon in Boston is cold and dark, which makes it tough to get the needed miles in.
Additionally with a knee injury, my training had been in a severe decline ever since finishing my first official half marathon in mid-October.  So untrained, but strong-willed, I set forth to finish my first marathon.

January 1, 2016

Quandary Peak, East Ridge Ski Descent: New Year's Day, 2016

With a fantastic forecast for New Year's Day, we decided to cap our Christmas vacation with a ski descent of the East Ridge of Quandary Peak.

November 19, 2015

Gear Review: Suunto Ambit3 Sapphire Peak

Face compared to a USD quarter

 The Suunto Ambit3 Sapphire Peak is a Multi-sport GPS enabled watch that I have now used for about 4 months with activities including trail running, city running, swimming, cycling, trekking, and indoor training. These are my initial impressions.

November 8, 2015

Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge: November 07-08 2015

    Based on a whim, Jacob Moison proposed the idea of a "pre-winter" camping overnighter. Therefore, I planned a weekend where limits could be tested of course! This started out as, "let's just camp somewhere in New Hampshire" and evolved to "let's camp in the northern Presidentials and hike 10 miles"; thank you Mike Hasse for the additional inspiration.
Pete Wright, Matt Derrig, Jacob, and myself, headed north just before noon on Saturday. I invited Laura Schiller out and she planned to meet us Sunday morning for the hike. The plan was to camp near the Caps Ridge Trailhead just above 3000' and then traverse point-to-point across the northern presidentials from Jefferson to Madison via Adams and the Appalachian Trail.

Base camp near the parking lot

September 8, 2015

South Colony Lakes Peak Bagging: September 5th-7th, 2015

Jaime Bravo and I wanted to do a fun trip over Labor Day Weekend for most of the summer.  After a bit of debating and deciding and backstepping and re-evaluating, we decided on Colorado.  My friends Paul and Stephanie live in the Front Range and wanted to join us as well.  After some more stewing about forecasts and travel times, we all decided on the Sangre de Cristos as our destination.

August 10, 2015

2 Day Solo Pemi Loop Hike: August 8-9, 2015

The Pemi Loop is a 30-40 mile (depending which summits you hit) classic NH backpacking trip that hits the 11 summits that ring the Western Pemigewasset Wilderness.  With a free weekend and a great forecast, I decided I wanted to try it in two days.  So, with my pack weighing in at 22.8 lbs with full food and water, I set off.
  Along the way, I tagged 12 official New Hampshire 4000 footers (Flume, Liberty, Lincoln, Lafayette, Garfield, Galehead, N Twin, S Twin, Zealand, West Bond, Bond, and Bondcliff), as well as two unofficial ones (Little Haystack and Guyot).

May 26, 2015

Silver Couloir Ski Descent, Buffalo Mtn, CO: Memorial Day, 2015

Buffalo Mountain is the vanguard of the southern Gore Range.  Its distinct shape is viewed by countless skiers, hikers, bikers, fishermen, and sailors; the undisputed monarch of the Lake Dillon region.  For the 25+ years we've been coming out here it's presided over our patch of Summit County, yet Hasse feet have never stood upon its summit. (EDIT: my grandma and grandpa climbed it in 1987, so that last statement isn't true)  So, we decided to climb and ski it.

April 19, 2015

Tuckerman Overnight, April 18-19, 2015

On Saturday Matt, Debra, and I skinned up to Tuckerman Ravine for some spring skiing and early season camping.  The bad weather forecasted for Saturday didn't turn up until the afternoon and we got some high quality turns in both days.

March 29, 2015

Tuckerman Ravine, Mt. Washington, NH: March 28th, 2015

Panpan is on her spring break from med school this week and we decided to skin up to Tucks for some late winter/early spring backcountry skiing.  We had a fairly variable day, encountered a variety of conditions and weather, and ultimately had an awesome day on the mountain.

March 10, 2015

Bad Luck on Katahdin, March 7-10, 2015

Four days, a run of bad luck, a decent amount of suffering, and possibly a bit of fun describes our recent trip to Katahdin.

January 1, 2015

Vail Pass Backcountry Skiing: December 31st, 2014

By New Year's Eve, the avalanche danger in the backcountry had finally settled to acceptable levels. So, with a fantastic forecast, Panpan, Matt, Debra, and I set out to do some mellow alpine touring on the slopes above Vail Pass.

November 17, 2014

Pinnacle Gully, Mt. Washington, NH-November 16, 2014

The New Hampshire ice season is officially here!  On Sunday, Debra, her boyfriend Matt, and I got an early start and hiked up into Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington to see if there was anything frozen we could climb.  A couple parties had found climbable ice in Pinnacle Gully the week before, so we thought we'd at least find some ice there.  Unfortunately, everyone else in New England thought the same thing, and even though we left Pinkham Notch at 4:00am, we still arrived at the base of the gully with a few other parties.