Saturday, April 20, 2019

Falls Creek - 4.29.2018

Updated 4.20.2019 to include another great day 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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Anchorage Weather Outlook

Thurs – Fri: partly cloudy to weak storm, mild temps, light wind (high confidence).
On Thursday evening another storm will arrive favoring Hatcher Pass and the Anchorage Front Range. This storm will be weaker and quicker than last night's storm. Temperatures will drop into Friday.

Weekend: stormy, mild temps, windy in favored areas (high confidence).
Initially snowfall will favor Hatcher Pass and the Anchorage Front Range before switching to areas near the PWS on Saturday night. Temperatures will rise on Sunday with the rain/snow line at or above the road at Turnagain; additionally winds will increase along the Anchorage Front Range and Turnagain Arm.

Early Next Week: light snow to possible clearing, mild temps (low confidence).
There will likely be some light snow for all mountains of our region on Monday. Tuesday is up in the air, there maybe additional snowfall or clearing. There are signs of clearing towards the middle of the week.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Andy Simons - 2.28.2019

February brought weeks of intense nerve pain and the slow loss of sanity. By the end of the month cabin fever was a bigger risk to my mental health than the outdoors were to my physical health.

But, where to go skiing? While clicking away at work an old suggestion floated into my head from somewhere in the cosmos: Mount Andy Simons. Southcentral had been crushed by gap winds, maybe it was far enough out of the corridor to be sheltered? We were stoked to check out something new, so drove south to give it a go. The three mile approach to Ptarmigan Lake went quickly and we were soaking up vitamin D on the lake.

Looking east across the lake towards even fatter zones by Nellie Juan. Maybe someday I'll own a little piece of mountain paradise in Moose Pass.

On the far side of the lake we waded back into the alders and towards the obvious slide-path/gully/terrain-trap. None of us were sure what to expect, but could see blue water ice in our intended route. Within a couple hundred yards the alders were obliterated by avy debris, and then we clambered around the series of small ice bulges. Next was wallowing up the rest of the gully until we could skin into the upper basin.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Goldpan - 12.13.2018

Alaska is the land of feast or famine. November brought days of rain, rain, rain to the Kenai Mountains. Fortunately, days of rain at the road mean feet of snow in the alpine, and in early December we finally got the weather window we'd been waiting for.

It was dark and cold as we broke trail out of the Sunburst lot, along Taylor Creek, and up Basketball. Climbing higher, we watched the sun kiss Turnagain's crown jewel:

Not entirely sure about stability and snow, we started with a long, protected spine towards Bertha Creek. Jono offered to go first; we could barely see him through the trail of cold smoke he left behind. It was going to be a good day.

Playing leapfrog down the long spine, I looked up to see a partially submerged Bucky. He'd later say this was the deepest day he's ever skied in the alpine.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Raina - 5.5.2018

Updated 3.7.2019 to include another great day in Ram Valley. 

For weeks the weather has been stuck on repeat as the conveyor belt of southwest flow plows storm after storm into our mountains. Last weekend it finally looked like we'd get a break in the weather. The catch was finding a zone that hadn't been overloaded by the recent snowfall, wasn't still snowing, and had options protected from the wind. We decided that spot was Falling Water where we could skin higher and higher until reaching the balance between dust on crust and fat storm slab. On Saturday morning, entering the upper amphitheater, we'd struck the jackpot. 

Still cautious about wind loading up high, we started with the tightest and most protected couloir that disappeared out of sight above us:

At the top of the apron, we loaded our skis on our backs and booted into the protected walls. The spring powder was cold, deep, and consistent. Kate wondered what witchcraft we'd used to conjure up such magical snow. I prefer to think of it as Jedi mind tricks.