earn your turns

Dane Tudor charging AK on foot

By: Roy Kittler February 21, 2017

Dane Tudor and his mates Ian Macintosh and Griffin Post leave the common helicopter behind and take on AK by foot. Huge lines and big tricks are guaranteed in crazy flick!

Here is what Dane got to say about his trip:

Last spring Ian Macintosh invited me to join Griffin Post and himself on a camping trip to

the Tordrillo mountain range in Alaska, with the objective of climbing and skiing the

Razorback Spine Wall. Razorback is a gnarly looking spine wall named after it’s razor

sharp spines, nestled in a protected nook off an unnamed Glacier.

I’ve been on many heli-trips to Alaska, but never on a foot powered mission. I’d seen the

Jeremy Jones trilogy and was blown away by the lines they chose to climb, the overhead

exposure seemed next level, granted the exposure can be managed but not completely

avoided. At some point you’ll find yourself under hanging pillows and cornices as you

climb the easiest route which happens to be in the belly of the beast. If you’d asked me a

few years prior if I’d be climbing spine walls in Alaska I would have said “I dunno, climbing

lines seems pretty wild.” And here I was, scrambling to order gear and organizing winter

camping equipment.

camp life

camp life

I was nervous thinking of the adventure ahead, yet excited to take on a new aspect of

skiing in the mountains. I’ve participated in numerous skiing disciplines, from ski racing to

urban hand rails, slopestyle, pillows and AK heli-skiing. It seemed suiting to challenge

myself in Alaskan terrain on foot, it also aligned with my journey of given’r hell and

pushing myself physically in the mountains.

I met up with Ian, Griffin and the TGR team in Anchorage, Alaska. I could barely contain

myself as I jumped around, buzzing with excitement as we organized our gear and

prepared to board the Beaver planes that would take us into the Tordrillos.

Anticipation was at an all time high as I laid eyes on Razorback. Steep, fluted, pillowy,

spiny gnar covered the wall, Razorback was looking stacked. The team worked to set up

base camp, packing out pads for the tents and getting situated. We set up 12 tents

including the cook and media tent, our home for the next 16 days.

We squeaked into camp during a short break in the weather, the next day it snowed

lightly, we waited patiently, excited.

sometimes you have to cheat

sometimes you have to cheat

I laid anxiously in my tent that night. I’d never climbed spine walls, or any type of steep

terrain for that matter and the anticipation was building.

We got our first opportunity to ride the Claw the following day, we awoke at 3am and

began our climb in the dark under a starlit sky.

My mind wandered as we made our approach to the base of the spines where we

switched over to our Billy Goat Ascent Plates and began to climb.

We took turns breaking trail up the gut between the Claw and the Talons, I felt

comfortable, my thoughts washed away as I became an animal in the environment,

Wolverines making our way to the top.

It was so fun climbing, I couldn’t help myself and took every opportunity to lead the climb,

breaking trail for the team and honing my skills in picking the perfect line up the mountain,

avoiding pockets of instability and topping out safely on the Claw. What a sight it was to

peer over the south side of the wall down to the Glacier. It was a beautiful sunrise, we

absorbed the moment and appreciated our place in the world.

We skied tentatively as it was our first line of the trip, and the mountain seemed more

intimidating when you stare at it from camp and climb it on foot. Everyone stomped their

line successfully, we where stoked and gaining confidence.

That night another storm rolled in and unleashed heavy snow and winds on us for the

next 3 days.

Earn your turns, even in AK

Earn your turns, even in AK

Everything becomes damp when it’s snowing, even my dry gear felt damp and my skin

was clammy in the sleeping bag, there’s no way of escaping the moisture.

Our cook tent collapsed on the first night of the storm, so we repaired the tent and kept a

better eye on it after that.

Camp was comfortable, so the storm didn’t phase us, everyone was stoked and enjoyed

the process of digging out tents and playing risk in the cook tent.

The snow and wind was relentless, we dug and dug to keep our tents from being buried.

By the end of the storm our gloves and boots where soaked from the shoveling. When the

sun finally broke through it was a warm welcome and amazed me at how well it dried our


Dane ready to drop

Dane ready to drop

With a renewed high pressure system we prepared for our next mission; to climb and ski

the Talon. Three steep, gnarly, fluted spines that give the appearance of an Eagles

Talon. Once again my mind ran wild as I fell asleep that night in anticipation for the gnar

that awaited the next day. We awoke dark and early, the air was crisp and the stars

shone bright as we climbed up beside the Talon. The sunrise was all time, the best of the

trip. I chose to ski the middle Talon which was steep and fluted, the line seemed to call

my name. I wasn’t sure how to ride it and was concerned there may be crust on the sun

exposed side of the spine so I skied the sheltered aspect and got deep in the flutes. The

flutes where steep and funneled out by consistent sluffing and where complicated to ride,

each turn was variable, sluff pumped in the runnels as I hopped my way down, each turn

as precise as the last. It was so steep my shoulder would bump the wall threatening to

flip me over and send me careening down the mountain, my legs where on fire as I

bounced from one flute to the next, I dubbed the line “1000 squats” due to the burning in

my legs.

That looks fun

That looks fun

On our final day we climbed the Claw once more for the “grand finale,” Mac, Griffin and I

felt confident and wanted to improve our lines. The snow was fresh from the storm cycle

we had received and I chose our climbing line carefully as we topped out on the ridge,

avoiding what appeared to be a loaded pocket of snow at the top of our climb. I dropped

first. Small pockets began popping everywhere as I shredded down the Claw, I kept my

eye on the moving snow as I continued to ski, the pockets turned into raging powder

clouds as the moving snow caught huge air off the walls of the spines. My mind raced,

calculating the spine ahead while observing the moving snow and deciding whether I’d be

able to continue skiing or have to pull up on the spine. I continued and came out

shredding at the bottom, riding on an all time high. Mac and Griffin shredded hard and

sent more pockets barreling down the spines as they came ripping out the bottom.

Our time was up, so we quickly packed our gear and boarded the Beaver back to reality.

This trip is what dreams are made of and exactly what we live for, I wouldn’t choose it any

other way.