Baker From All Angles 

They say the most riveting climbing stories come from tragedies. I totally agree, but success does not take away the beauty or pride of a well-executed climb or backcountry trip.

In the summer of 2016, I traveled to the state of Washington to not only attempt my first unguided glaciated climb, but to also stay in a secluded fire tower with breathtaking views of Mount Baker. I climbed Baker with my good friend and favorite climbing partner Han. After a flawless ascent, I headed back down to town to meet up with an amazing photographer and one of my best friends Brad North to trek up the Park Butte Lookout tower. Everything went smoothly, and I managed to grab some great images along the way. Hope you enjoy.

 

The Coleman Deming Glacier Route
whitney edits (2 of 27)Our approach to Hogback to build camp.

whitney edits (1 of 27)Mount Baker.

whitney edits (5 of 27)Han settling in at camp.

whitney edits (4 of 27)The colorful Hogback camp at the base of the Coleman-Deming Glacier route.

whitney edits (3 of 27)The summit in the distance beyond  camp.

whitney edits (7 of 27)Gearing up for our 2 a.m. alpine start.

whitney edits (11 of 27)The Roman wall.

untitled (1 of 2)Looking down from the base of the Roman wall.

whitney edits (10 of 27)If you look closely, you can see a tiny row of climbers ascending behind us.

whitney edits (13 of 27)Crossing a platte toward the summit.

whitney edits (15 of 1)The summit of Mount Baker.

Climbing Baker unguided was a thrilling experience, and one that will stick with me for a long time.

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Coleman-Deming Route

 
The Lookout

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After a successful summit, I took a day’s rest and then made my way to Park Butte Lookout for a night. The lookout tower is open for backcountry travelers with expansive views of Mount Baker.

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Brad and I walked up into the clouds as we approached the lookout, so with no view we took some time to read a few entries left by previous visitors.

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As the sun set the clouds broke. We set out to get some shots.

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Changing weather made for some breathtaking views.

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One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stayed.

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This lookout accommodates a small party on a first-come, first-served basis. We got an early start. That, combined with a little luck, landed us this perfect spot for the night.

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A clear night sky over Mount Baker.

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Morning views.

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Another angle of Mount Baker.

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Route to Park Butte Lookout
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Return of the Current

By Thomas and Mark Malkowicz

Akers Ferry.jpgOn April 30, 2017, two inches of water flooded the Aker’s Ferry Canoe Rental shop. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) and the surrounding communities were hit hard by this year’s historic flooding. Yet just a few weeks later, the outfitters were up and running; the park service had re-opened many of the access points on the upper Current River; and we were headed back to our favorite Ozark stream.

New post at wheresmalko.com #boteboards #flyfishing #onsr #currentriver #trout

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Our plan was to paddle from Baptist Camp to Cedar Groves, a short 6-mile section of the river, giving us plenty of time to fish.

Because of the crystal clear water and the elevated perspective, inflatable standup paddle boards are the best way to travel on Ozark streams, in our opinion.

We’ve been obsessed with the ONSR for as long as we can remember. BOTE Boards, combined with our newfound love for fly fishing, only strengthens this obsession.

Safety on the river is always the No. 1 priority, especially after a big flood. At every sketchy spot, we hopped off the boards to make sure we were ready for stuff like this. Pictured above was the only spot we found that was not passable. Big thanks to the ONSR Stream Team and the local outfitters for doing all they did to clear obstructions.

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untitled (7 of 7)A backpacking state-of-mind is helpful when packing for an overnight paddle board trip. We like to add a small cooler full of chilled water, fresh food and ice cold beer.

How we have been on this river for more than the past 20 years and never narrowed in on these fish until now seems almost unacceptable.

Brown trout can be elusive in the Current River, but you will definitely know when you have one hooked: they fight like monsters.

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Nothing beats being able to just kick the board to the shore to fish a riffle and land a good fish.

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This was our most successful fishing trip on the Current River. In case you’re wondering, every fish we caught, we put back in the river.

Special thanks to

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Paddling Across The Kitchen

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Paddleboarding has somewhat changed the way we approach backcountry travel. Growing up canoeing rivers, we could never get enough; our trips got longer, our boat got heavier and heavier. When we were not paddling, we were packing backpacks with ultralight gear and hiking deep into the wilderness to find seclusion and a sense of exploration. The boards bring it all together, there is a sense of freedom when traveling light with only the minimal gear needed.

Our plan on this trip was to explore a lake in Southern Illinois, just southeast of Carbondale, Ill., called Devils Kitchen. The lake butts up to a wilderness area that we have always enjoyed backpacking to. It’s roughly a five-mile paddle from the northern end of Devils Kitchen lake to the Panthers Den Wilderness hidden in the southern part of the lake.

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It’s argued whether or not Southern Illinois is part of the Ozarks, but as we paddled from the wide-open water of the lake into the long, finger-like coves, the rolling hills and exposed rocks looked an awful lot like the Ozarks. Small rocky shores turn into larger borders and bluffs that rise out of the water.

tom fire.jpgThe reward of this trip was definitely the campsite that felt totally hidden and remote. Even though Panthers Den and the rest of Shawnee National Forest isn’t technically a part of the Ozark plateau, it sure felt a lot like home.

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Special thanks to

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SUP StL: Our Favorite Paddle Board Spots Around St. Louis

by Thomas & Mark Malkowicz

One of the things that drew us to stand-up paddle boarding was the fact that it was a new sport. Even before our boards arrived, we started researching places around St. Louis that would be interesting to paddle, and we noticed there wasn’t much information out there.

The most rewarding parts about our new hobby was that it gave us a reason to explore parts of our city that we had never been to, and look at familiar places in a new way.

Continue reading “SUP StL: Our Favorite Paddle Board Spots Around St. Louis”

Mount Whitney

By Mark Malkowicz

This is a story and video of how my girlfriend Rachel and I traveled across Death Valley from Las Vegas, Nevada to Lonepine, California with hopes of reaching the summit of Mount Whitney. Standing at 14,508 feet, Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. Our plan was to take the standard route known as the Whitney Trail but having left the first week of June, the trail wasn’t yet clear of snow. The snowy conditions forced us up by way of “the chute”, a winter or spring variation of the route.

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The chute is a steep band of snow leading to the ridge that would eventually take us to the summit. In the early morning hours, the chute is icy, making it ideal for cramponing our way up. Later in the day however, the hot California sun warms it and the ice turns to a wet slush. Our plan was to get up while it was frozen and back down before it got too wet.

This was Rachel’s first climb but despite her lack of experience, she was strong all throughout the summit day, making her a killer climbing partner. Not sure if either of us would have made it without the other and I’m looking forward to getting back on a mountain with her someday.

Caye Caulker by Boat

By Thomas Malkowicz

Water Taxi

Full throttle across the Caribbean Sea, our destination was the small island of Caye Caulker. Every seat on the water taxi was full, and, from a small window, Belize City was disappearing behind the boat. My wife, JoLee, and I are in Central America, on a 21-mile trip north into waters that become incredibly clear and blue. Small green islands are stretched out all along the horizon. Compared to the heat of Belize City, the air became noticeably fresh and cool as we approached the island.

Blackbeard Island National Wildlife RefugeThe free Belize Illustrated map I was reading during this 45-minute voyage was filled with information that explained why this area is a destination for people from all over the globe. It states that, “Belize is a haven for abundant flora and fauna … Belize has the lowest population density in Central America … the climate is pretty much near perfect … and Belizeans make you feel as welcome and comfortable, like nowhere else.” Perfect!

The day before, while waiting in line at the airport a gentleman had advised us to skip Belize City and hop on another plane. He explained it would save us a lot of trouble if we just flew to Caye Caulker. But being on the water is why we came here, and it only seems proper to explore this tropical setting aboard a boat.

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Continue reading “Caye Caulker by Boat”

Kicked out of the nest: The Alaskan Range

Alaska May, 2015

The bush plane equipped with skis flew directly into the clouds that congested the sky over North America’s greatest peaks. My stomach dropped every time the wings lost grip, dipping into the thin, turbulent air.  After the short flight from Talkeetna, Alaska, we touched down smoothly at Kahiltna Glacier Base Camp (aka Denali Base Camp).

I was not there to climb Denali, but to work on some advanced mountaineering skills and to explore the range near Base Camp. Continue reading “Kicked out of the nest: The Alaskan Range”