Peak 3 season is in full swing here on Hillside. For those who don't know what Peak 3 season is; It's that time of year where every day at 3pm the schoolteachers start calling you and saying "Want to go ski Peak 3? Want to go ski Peak 3?" If you can avoid them you'll get in another hour of work before the 8-4'ers start calling and saying "Want to go ski Peak 3? Want to go ski Peak 3?" If you can say no again - then you get another hour of work in before the 9-5'ers start calling. Usually I cave in to one of the above... and last week Peak 3 was really good! ( Read more... )
We had the worst avalanche report of the season - multiple weak layers, 6 plus feet of new snow, warming temperatures - and to top it off, the threat of a rumbling Mt. Redoubt 130 miles to the west. But we couldn't stay home; the forecast was calling for a blizzard warning that evening. We had one day to give it a go before going back to the wait game.
So the Friday afternoon discussions began; where to go what to do who wants to go. I cast big in the hopes of netting some trailbreakers and got 1 yes and 4 definite maybes. Saturday morning we called around and again more reports of indecision filtered in. Eventually we set up a meeting time and at 9:30 we all gathered. First there were 2, then three - until finally 7 people showed up. 7 people is 4 too many for my comfort level, so we chose a spot with low angle trees, jumped in the car and drove south.
We chose to head into Wolverine via the circuitous route through the woods which I had eventually unlocked after 6 times of wandering about in circles in the dense woods between the highway and the peaks. Technically I wasn't lost during those forays - but some had taken to referring to these forays as "getting lost" - a semantic blunder that I always countered. I don't get lost. Lost is when you wander about in circles with no direction... sort of like that TV show where they shoot polar bears in Hawaii and struggle with inner demons. I might, at one time, have wandered about in circles - but I always had a clear direction: to unlock the secret route from the highway to Wolverine. As the cliche goes, Not all who wander are lost. ( Read more... )
We reached Pastoral Pass at noon; the north couloir looked to be in excellent shape so Dan headed up. Eric and I threw our skis / snowboard on our back and followed behind him... ( Read more... )
On Sunday 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. ( Read more... )
High pressure and fresh snow makes the front range quite inviting so Yvonne and I opted to stay near town for the weekend and go ski in Rabbit Valley for a day. ( Read more... )
The dreary days of November, December, January and February have ended. While many of my friends embrace the cold deep powder of Alaskan winters, I never seem to totally enjoy the days where we are slogging through deep powder to ski the same runs again and again up and down. Thus when the sun finally comes out and avalanche conditions improve, I seem to wake up from hibernation and start beating myself into shape. ( Read more... )
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... )
Winter lasted well into June in Anchorage. Snow patches lingered in the yard till June and we were still climbing snow couloirs like it was May in mid June. Then the July rains came early... rock climbing consisted of long drives to Hatcher only to turn around and drive home, mountain climbing was out of the question. Even the fishing sucked. So I made some calls, coordinated with friends and family, cashed in my Alaska Airlines miles and headed south. ( Read more... )
The season is upon us so I thought I'd share some photos from our Chitina excursion last June. Spring 2007 runoff had caused a number of land slides and some people were saying the road past O'Brien was impassible; so unlike 2006 where I joined the Steers for a redneck 4WD extravaganza, getting back to the canyon via ATV was unlikely.
The spring landslides and the State of Alaska's decision not to repair the road had lead to a number of outcries from some of the public clamoring that the state was restricting their right to dipnet and that access was "denied to Alaskan's and their families" (insert rolling eyes emoticon here).
We thought about paying the $100 for a charter drop off, then decided that jet boats and ATVs suck so we loaded up the cars with bikes and dry bags and headed down.
We left town at 5am and by 11am were hiking and biking into the canyon. Todd and I rode mountain bikes, Yvonne and Lauren hiked. By noon we biked 5 miles into the canyon, scoped out a nice back eddy, anchored off with a rope and landed our first king. Thus began a 12 hour marathon of pain.
For the next 12 hours we worked hard. Our assembly line consisted of Todd and I landing fish, Lauren killing and hauling and Yvonne gutting. When we reached 10 fish we'd load up a dry bag and bike out (each back pack weighing around 50 lbs). Yvonne and Lauren took the first load at 2:30pm - each of them hauling a massive king and 3 reds. Todd took the second trip at 7:30 pm - hauling 12 reds. I took the third trip at 10pm - also hauling 12 reds. ( Read more... )
The forecast called for clouds and isolated showers; not ideal conditions given that isolated showers usually have a way of finding me, but I wanted to get out so I studied the maps and my photos. I finally decided to give the North Face of Eagle Peak a try. My reasoning was that 2 weeks ago north facing slopes were still powder and south facing slopes were corn - whereas a week ago south facing slopes had turned isothermal. I was hoping for corn conditions on north facing aspects - but I knew we couldn't go if the sun was shining due to avalanche hazards. After much thought I figured the clouds would shade the route giving us the rare opportunity to ascend the route in spring conditions.
The route ascends the obvious couloir. This photo was taken from Significant peak on 6/10/06.
So I rounded up a team who all bit on the first cast: Dan, Eric, Bryce and Yvonne and at 5:30am on Saturday we met and were soon driving. We dropped off a car at the South Fork of Eagle river (thinking we might have to traverse the peak to avoid late afternoon avalanche conditions) and then drove to the Eagle River Nature Center and were hiking by 7am. ( Read more... )