REGION: Chugach Range



Ptarmigan - South Face
Posted in Chugach Range & Skiing Tags: frontrange  

On Sunday March 15th I headed up Rabbit Valley with Dan, Eric, Todd and Pat. The winds were howling on the ridge lines and once again, prospects did not look good!

We skied back the base of Ptarmigan, sat around discussing options and then headed up. The normal gully coming off Ptarmigan Pass was in good shape - but as we got higher the snow turned to hard pack - and eventually ice.

As it got steeper the snow got worse - and lots of grumbling could be heard from the skiers who had come to ski powder based on my glowing review from the previous day on Peak 4. After a while it got ridiculous and we all regrouped and commenced our usual discussion about where to go and what to do - a discussion which usually last for 15 minutes and 9 times out of 10 ends with no decision. This time no one really could say whether they wanted to go up or down - and after some more indecisive remarks I told Eric to head on up. He took this to heart - and set off at his usual breakneck speed - and before anyone could voice a differing opinion he had set a boot track half way up the West Face.

The "skiers" followed grumbling about the conditions but I assured them the South face would ski just fine. And so we climbed - skis on back, whippet in hand, and boot deep firm styrofoam all the way to the ridge.

We crested the summit under beautiful perfect skies (albeit the winds was still blowing pretty hard) and stood around (it's still too cold to sit) admiring the views. The Chugach when she is covered in snow is a beautiful sight. All around us the peaks glistened in the sun.

After a short lunch, she shouldered our packs and hiked down the col where Ptarmigan couloir tops out. The couloir was looking nice, but the sun on the south side invited us - so we dropped in... only to find rocks hidden under a thin layer of snow every few turns!!

So we scraped and scratched our way down; all the while trying not to think of what was happening to the base of our skis. However - once we pulled out of the rocks - the bottom of the run was blissful powder. So blissful that we smacked on our skins and headed back up for 2 more runs!

  •  Todd headed up the gully below Ptarmigan Pass.
  •  Dan with Denali behind him.
  •  Booting up the West Face.
  •  Eric blitzing up the West Face.
  •  Headed up the W Face.
  •  Headed up the W. Face.
  •  Headed up the W. Face.
  •  Todd nearing the ridge.
  •  On the W. Summit of Ptarmigan.
  •  On the W. Summit of Ptarmigan.
  •  Eric heading to the notch.
  •  Me downclimbing to our take-off spot!
  •  Todd dropping the bony South face.
  •  Eric knuckle-dragging the south face.
  •  Todd with the Suicides in the background.
  •  Me headed down from Ptarmigan Pass.
  •  Eric headed down from Ptarmigan Pass.
  •  Eric headed out Rabbit Valley.

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