P3 last week.
It's no secret the snow has been good in the Front Range. While the official NOAA snowtel in midtown is reading 129 inches (just shy of the all time record of 132.8 inches set in the winter of 1954-55) the unofficial ski reports show much much more snow on Hillside and in the Front Range. Gullies are filled in more than usual, the tree skiing is good and normally hard technical couloirs are now doable for the average Joe. Thus when the snow is deep, sky is blue and the backyard calls, there is no need to drive north or south.
Weekdays after work are for Peak 3. Leave the house at 5 for a powder run and back two hours later for a pre-dinner house repair work-a-thon. Weekends call for something a little longer, so a 20-minute drive north to Stuckagain for the slog into the always fun and always awesome KCK.
KCK. Not Kansas City, Kansas not Knik Canoers and Kayakers, not the top 40 internet radio station. Knoya Couloir Kanchee. That magnificent low angle gully in-between Kanchee and Knoya that you can see from town. Of course those well versed in ski nomenclature will challenge my loose usage of the term "couloir". After all a couloir is a French gully where a slip means a plunge into the abyss. Or maybe a French gully that one must sprint across while attached to a cable and dodging rock fall (Sacrebleu!). But whatever... we're not French so loose usage of the term doesn't result in alehouse fist-a-cuffs.
Anyway, I digress. Up Stuckagain Trail, over the Dome, down into the valley below Kanchee and Knoya, then up KCK. The snow was bomb and beautiful in KCK but we had spied a nice line off the west face of Kanchee so we climbed up and over to the entrance just below the summit.
Scott Fennell down KCK some time back.
Down the west face - which was bomb, but not beautiful. Ice so firm that we had to remove the dog's booties (after watching him helplessly slide part way down) and clutch the whippet hard. But a hard turn right took us to a north aspect with good powder and a west facing gully with good snow took us back to the skin track.
Dog run down the South West Face of Kanchee.
Then back up KCK. KCK is all of 25 degrees with maybe a steeper rollover near the top. The dogs were cold and tired (as were my legs) so after cleaning ice balls out of their pads we pulled the skins and floated down perfect snow.
Back up KCK.
Moment of consolation for Lucy.
Back up to the Dome then down the West ridge tree run to the trail and the Stuckagain Luge Run back to the car. It seems so close and easy but round trip it's over 10 miles and close to 5500' so I was dog-tired and went to bed at about the same time as the dog.
Another week of work, house repair and Peak 3 then Front Range plans again. This time we opt for Goat Head Couloir -the flavor of the month 20 minutes south of town. There are those who want this run kept secret but with tracks to the road it can't hide much longer. Not to worry though - next year it will be back to bony, thin and scary. If you want it open your eyes while driving south and you can't miss it if you happen to glance up at the exact second you fly past at 55mph.
We drove south with little hope of fresh tracks but to our surprise it hadn't been touched since the last storm. So we jerked into a pull-out, spilled into traffic and began skiing uphill.
Just above the road.
Southcentral AK offers very little in terms of splitter handcracks (I hear there might be one in Hatcher) but we make up for it in splitter couloirs. And when I say splitter I mean a 2500' perfect fault line that goes almost to the water. You start climbing right off the the road and you don't stop till you reach the ridge.
Nearing the choke.
Yvonne and I skinned as far as we could - taking care to pull off into safe zones and watch as the other pushed foreword in the choke which has a fair amount of ave danger due to hazards from the left, right and above. Above the choke we had to switch to a boot pack which went quickly and easily enough until we reached a reached a bad wind slab around 2500'.
Switching to a bootpack.
High above the Arm.
We poked left, only to find shallow unconsolidated snow over alder, we poked right only to find a wind slab in between alders. A hasty pit revealed a shallow snowpack so we pulled the skins about 500' below the ridge line and dropped in.
The view isn't so bad!
I won't say it skied well. I've skied worse, but maybe that was back before I had rocker tip skis. About 1500' was pure breakable with the remaining 1000' on ave debris. Not sure which was better or worse. Jump turns aren't an option for me yet so I did a lot of wide stance snow plows and tried to stay out of the way of the monster debris blocks I kicked off every other turn. But you can't beat the views on this run. Maybe one day I'll get to ski it in powder but for now I was just psyched to get some good pictures and enjoy the day.
Ski it wide in breakable!
Up and down in 3 hours then back home for a house repair work-a-thon. Peak 3 after work this week. Repeat until summer.
Repeat until summer.
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