With good reports filtering in from all over our objective in mind was Big Chief. Of course we wanted to ski the north face - which is everyone's objective when heading back there - but knowing coverage was pretty thin we all kept open minds and knew we had options should the route not go. ( Read more... )
Every now and then we get that long period of high pressure where everything rocks. The temps are decent, the snow is beautiful, stability is good. Then the winds come and everything goes to hell. Windslab creeps across the ridgetops and where there isn't windslab there's pure ice. Runs look good from afar but once you're in them you start actually thinking about things like home projects and ice climbing.
We went south seeking sun, snow and stability. Out the car in fringed temps and up Bertha Creek to Granddaddy, which we knew was in. The north ridge of Granddaddy was wind blasted rime ice with constant 25mph winds beating us as we climbed. Then off the top and down onto the frozen blob of rime ice that serves as a spotting stance. ( Read more... )
What is a forecast? When the ave center gives you a green light, how does it affect your motives and goals for the day?
That was the discussion of the day as we skinned up valley under crystal blue skies with what appeared to be a stellar snowpack. We had a big line in mind but our group has been skiing long enough to know that ideas don't mean anything. You might have objectives for the day, but our ski group is equally at home backing off slopes and objectives as we are at actually skiing our intended line (actually the truth is we're perhaps more likely to back off the intended line). "We'll just go up there and have a look," seems to be the mantra every time we start out to do something. And so we go up stuff and look down.
Sometimes we dig a pit and sometimes the pit is good and we embrace the run. Sometime the pit reinforces what we already know and we go accepting the risk. Often it's a justification for turning around and going down as fast as fucking possible.
But that's the pit. The snowpack can very different from the forecast. Sometimes it's better than what they say; sometimes you have to read the fine print ("isolated avalanches in extreme terrain"). The question is: how does the forecast affect your decision making for the day?
Ten years ago it seemed the only way people skied big lines in Turnagain was by putting in their time down in the Pass and taking the time to study weather, snowpack and local knowledge before committing to dropping down big lines like the south side of Proper. These days Proper gets skied all the time and good visibility combined with a low to moderate forecast will lead to a dozen plus descents in one day. Would the big lines in Turnagain get skied as often as they do without a forecast? ( Read more... )
In two weeks I'll be at six months since my fall. Six long months where I was limited to couch-surfing, swimming, cross country skiing and mellow yo-yo runs (in that order). But Saturday felt different. Good snow and a flexible ankle so we went and went and my ankle never bothered me so we kept going. Up the west face of Cornbiscuit. Down the steep south face that you shouldn't touch unless ave conditions are perfect. Then up the southeast ridge of Cornbiscuit (Wolf's Run) and back down again. ( Read more... )
We set off to climb and ski Bench Peak. We knew there were tracks on the run we wanted to ski. But we knew of only 4 sets of tracks - and when those tracks are made by ubiquitous local skier "Eric the Viking" and his crew, and those tracks mean you don't have to route find through the wilds of Center and Divide Creeks, then you can forgive the 4 sets. Besides, following Viking and his crew's tracks down a Turnagain area run is kind of a given. If it's good and it will go, chances are Viking has already skied it that week. ( Read more... )
Saturday was yet another absolutely beautiful day in Southcentral Alaska, so we packed the skis and some climbing gear and headed south to try Kickstep. We left the parking lot around 10:30 with ski gear, crampons, axe, 30m of rope, harnesses and a couple pickets. Travelling up Lyon Creek was fast and 2 1/2 later we were at the base of Kickstep's West Ridge. ( Read more... )
[ Carpathian Peak - North Ridge ]
Silvertip Creek Ave Video above. Notes and thoughts on Manitoba after the jump. ( Read more... )
I love classics… be it rock, ice, ski descents and even the occasional mellow river run. So when I heard that the classic ice routes in Middle Glacier Canyon were fatter than usual we dusted off the ice gear and headed south to give one a try. We hiked into the canyon and checked out all the routes. Most of the routes looked either hard or thin, but Lucky Man looked better than usual.
Lucky Man is a wonderful ice route that is about 300’ tall and was first climbed by Charlie Sassera and Robert Frank in 1982. It usually has a very very thin beginning - after which the route ascends a mellow ramp system to the canyon rim. However this year there is a super easy sneak on climbers left that gets you past the thin horrow-show of verglass and stubby placements down low on the route. ( Read more... )