I spent a long weekend skiing in Thompson Pass with Todd, Peter and Amy. We stayed at Matt Kinney's awesome place (Thompson Pass Mountain Chalet). We had relatively decent weather and conditions and were able to ski every day.
We drove down on friday afternoon. On Saturday we headed out and skied Gully 1 with Matt. The skiing was decent but it was howling wind and around 0 so after one run we scurried back to the chalet to put on more layers and eat something hot. After lunch Todd headed back up to the pass to kite-ski while Peter, Amy and I headed own into Valdez to ski Benzene Alley. The skiing next to the water was quite spectacular but the snowmachiners were out in force and we were continually buzzed. Everyone was very nice (no one tried to run us over a-la Hatchers Pass) - but being around a dozen snowmachines buzzing downhill at 50 mph when you're out for an afternoon ski above the blue water is a downer. ( Read more... )
High pressure pushed over Southcentral Alaska so I rounded up a group and on Saturday we headed down to Turnagain Pass for yet another day of powder skiing. We started out with a large group - 6 in total - and headed up and over Taylor Pass. However at the pass Eric the Viking's hip started bugging him so Dan (once again fresh from surgery) and Eric bailed and skied a run off Gold Pan instead of heading down to Pastoral. ( Read more... )
On Saturday Todd, Dan, Yvonne and I climbed Pyramid Peak (3378'). Unlike my last ascent this was a mellow ski ascent without any epic and no bushwhacking. I was disappointed; after all my tough talk to Yvonne about what a burly peak this was to climb we waltzed up the entire thing in less than 3 hours. ( Read more... )
Spring is here and with it came a good snow pack and perfect snow for front range skiing. On Sunday Charlie T. and I climbed the West Ridge of Ptarmigan from the Rabbit Valley side. The route up was great - with freshly kicked steps from a party just ahead of us. We climbed both summits and stared down the north couloir; conditions were perfect. I then skied the west face - dropping down one of the couloirs in perfect shin deep powder.
I got home that afternoon and began thinking about the north couloir. The fresh stable snow beckoned so I called Todd and we made a plan. And then yesterday at 12:30 we set out and skied down Powerline pass to the base of the route. En-route we passed two climbers who had just climbed the route. They told us the snow as a little hard down low - but nice up high.
By 2:30 we were at the base of the route and skinning up. The snow quickly grew hard so we clipped on our ski crampons and continued up. However it got steeper and the snow harder so we soon pulled the skis and started booting. We had left our crampons at home thinking the snow would be soft; and thus the lower portion of the route went slowly as we carefully booted up the ice hard snow with our boots barely biting in at times. ( Read more... )
Friday night. I drive past Pyramid Peak in Turnagain Pass looking casually up. I wanted to climb it all winter but my friends are snow snobs; they'd rather ski one run of good powder 5 times than skin up a wind hammered ridge. Now that it's spring they're all out doing spring things - like gardening and river rafting. For some reason I want to get one more ski day in. Looking up at the peak thoughts come and go; "Tomorrow should be an easy day. Almost too easy. I could climb Pyramid and then go ski elsewhere..."
I spend a lazy night next to a campfire watching the moon drift over the Kenai Mountains. Ranger hangs out next to me. He misses his old friend Pharaoh who used to chase him in circles when we camped. I miss him too. That night it freezes and I shiver inside my cheap flannel sleeping bag. Ranger, in his thin coat, shivers so hard he wakes me up so I dig out a jacket and throw it over him.
The alarm sounds at 6:30 am. I sleep till 8. Coffee follows and then I jump into the car and blast to the parking lot where I strap the skis to the pack and start booting uphill. Somewhere in the back of my mind it registers that there is no snow for at least 2000'. It also registers that there is brush for 2000' but I choose to ignore these thoughts. ( Read more... )
My nephew, Matthew, and brother John, came to visit me for Matt's spring break. I'm not sure if they expected balmy spring like temperatures or not - but they certainly didn't get them. Temps hovered in the teens on the good days; on the bad days it was around -20 with 50 mph winds!
We spent 8 days skiing down on the Kenai Peninsula; 4 days at Turnagain Pass and 4 days up at Crescent Lake where we stayed at Crescent Saddle cabin. This was John and Mat's first winter visit to Alaska and their first ever backcountry ski trip.
I acted as ski guide for the entire trip and I have never worked so hard in my life... My brother and nephew learned fairly quickly; but I still had to literally battle with them to do key things like drink, eat, ski where I tell them to and not push themselves beyond their limits as well as seemingly stupid things like always wear liner gloves when it's -25 and not to lay down in the snow when tired. ( Read more... )
On April 14th Wayne, Carrie, Yvonne and I left the parking lot at Portage Lake at 10:30 am and skied across Portage Lake. It was one of those rare days in Portage: perfectly calm, clear and not a cloud in the sky. We were laden with heavy pack - 6 days of food and fuel, climbing gear, glacier travel gear, skis and sleds. Our original intention was to ski out onto the Ithmus Icefield and attempt Carpathian and possibly Isthmus - the second tallest peak on the Kenai Peninsula.
It took us about an hour to get across the lake and then we worked our way up to the toe of the Bard Glacier. At the base of the glacier we toyed with the idea of roping up, but we had all been there before and were comfortable with the conditions. So up we went - taking turns breaking trail and slowly working our way up the glacier. It was relatively fast going, the snow having a firm crust on it - but as we got higher the snow began to get deeper and less consolidated. ( Read more... )
Saturday, October 17th, 2005 was our first time out on skis since the previous April. There is powder north of Anchorage - but instead we opted for a traverse since we still have a little bit of light. So on Sunday we rounded up a group of friends and drove south to Girdwood where we hiked up the Crow Pass trail and dropped over onto the Milk Glacier via the pass between Barnes Mountain and Jewel Mountain. We then skied up the Milk Glacier and down the Raven Glacier - finally reaching the trail just as it got dark.
On Saturday April 16th, 2005 Yvonne & I drove south to Whittier, a small down that is accessible only via a 3 mile tunnel. The town sits just above Prince William Sound and, although the town itself is ugly - the area is magnificent. We parked just parked just outside the town, ski toured up and over Portage Pass; around Portage Lake, then up the Burns Glacier - then down the Whittier glacier. It was a 12 mile traverse in a very remote wild area where few people seldom go. For the most part it was a mellow tour on a rare calm warm day (it's usually raining, snowing or blowing in that region). All was smooth although we had some excitement getting off the glacier. ( Read more... )