Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Anchorage Ski Outlook - 1.19.2022

Thurs – Fri: warm, wet, and windy storm arriving (high confidence).
Clouds arrive Thursday ahead of the approaching storm and its rapidly warming temps. Thurs night into Friday precip heaviest for Portage/Whittier/Seward, moderate for Turny/Gird/Thompson Pass then decreasing as you move towards Hatcher. Rain to the Turnagain Pass road level.

Weekend: warm, light snow, cloudy (high confidence).
Light precip all weekend for Turnagain/Girdwood/Thompson - heavier precip the closer you are to the Prince William Sound and dryer towards Hatcher. Rain to the Turnagain Pass road level; hot in Anchorage. Moderate ridgetop winds. 

Early Next Weekwarm and stormy (moderate confidence).
Heavy, windy precip Monday into Tuesday for the mountains above the PWS (especially Whittier, Seward, Portage with Turny/Gird/Thompson doing well too), and dryer towards Hatcher. Rain to the Turnagain Pass road level; hot in Anchorage. Drying out with moderating temps on Wed.
Click below for the dirty details!!!


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Happy River - July 2019

Every summer is a busy one here in AK. Between multiple stints of grueling fieldwork, an arctic trip, and family time, 2019 was another whirlwind of packing 12 months into three months of sunlight. When Khalial, Alex, and I had a few days where our schedules lined up with not just each other but also with the weather we jumped to snag a plane into the Alaska Range.

On a shady Friday morning with the light muted by low clouds hanging over the Anchorage bowl, we met our pilot Kip at Lake Hood. We stuffed our packs into the back of the Cessna, crawled in after, and buckled up as the big wheels of the bush plane left the ground and we pitched away from the city and across Cook Inlet.

With Kip doubling not just as pilot, but also as DJ, the tunes floating into our ears made our flight feel like a dream as we climbed thru wispy clouds and across the inlet. Back over terra firma, we flew past rivers that had left their angry rapids of the steep mountain gradient behind to be replaced by lazy winding oxbows.

We crossed the dusty braids of the Skwentna River which we would paddle a few days later, then mountains spray-painted in a thin coat of orange by the smoke of Siberian wildfires rose around us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Falls Creek - 4.29.2018

Updated below on 4.20.2019 and again on 12.22.2021 to include more great days in Falls Creek. 

Around 2 PM on Saturday the texts starting coming in from Jeff: he and Jeebs were storm skiing untracked pow in Falls Creek. I was sitting in gloomy, windy, and rainy Anchorage mourning getting shut down on the Alaska Range by storm after storm. The forecast was calling for more of the same Saturday night into Sunday, and I wasn't going to miss out on more stormy couloirs. The next day, hiking out of the rainy parking lot in our running shoes, it was hard to imagine winter was up there somewhere.

But, by the time Andrew, Alex, and I had climbed past a sleepy black bear, traded our running shoes for ski boots, and skinned into the alpine, winter was back in full force.

Making a right turn, throwing our skis on our packs, and starting the booter up the first coolie of the day, we began to realize just how good it was going to be. From the top I looked back down at Andrew as the falling snow swirled out of sight below.

Alex ski cut the slope before dropping first. After a foot of rapid loading overnight, we weren't sure how the new snow had bonded, but nothing moved.

Rae Wallace - 3.18.2016

Updated below on 3.17.2020 and again on 12.22.2021 to include more memorable days on this Hatcher classic.

Friday was Ethan's last day in town, so we wanted to take him somewhere fun. We'd done a lot of great adventuring, and as such were leaning towards a higher ski to bushwhack ratio. Maybe even something without dirt on the approach!

Cody watches Alex wrap up his warm up run.

Though we often ski Rae Wallace on our way thru to Archangel, I've never just spent a day lapping its steep and rocky chutes and spines, but I've always wanted to.

Alex and I spent Thursday chewing on weather forecasts and avalanche data as we decided between another Eagle River adventure and Hatcher. As soon as I dropped into the sheltered north facing terrain I was happy with our decision. Alex was too:

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Fishs Breath - 3.6.2021

Rising straight from the headwaters of California Creek, Fishs Breath's big east face is the kind of dream line that Alyeska skiers dream of from across the Girdwood Valley.

And like any classic that we drool over, its guarded by its own set of gatekeepers. Measuring right around 37 degrees for 2,000 vertical feet, its the perfect angle to harbor a persistent weak layer while surrounding steeper slopes flush. At the bottom of that dangling snowfield is an incised terrain trap that an avalanche could quickly fill with tens of feet of debris. Then there is its location on the far western edge of the maritime zone where the snowpack is thinner and the winds constantly rip through Crow Pass.

In short, everything has to line up for this one, and as we skinned out of the Crow Pass parking lot on a cold clear day last March it looked like we had the conditions we needed. Steph, Tony, and Malcolm seemed to be feeling fast, and we tried to keep up as they turned away from the trail and skinned towards the pass between Magpie and Raggedtop.

At the pass we looked over the cornice and into upper California Creek.

Finding a way around these dangling bulbous drifts is always a good challenge, and we worked our way back and forth peering around and poking thru the cornice until we found a safe spot to enter for the ski towards the climb up our objective.