Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Anchorage Ski Outlook - 1.15.2020

Thurs – Fri: cold, dry, gap winds (high confidence).
Cold temps (but not as cold as its been) will persist with inversions in the usual cold spots. Gap winds in channeled terrain like Whittier, Seward and especially the Mat Valley and Thompson Pass.

Weekend: moderating temps, approaching storm (moderate confidence).
Temps will moderate as high pressure leaves our region. Clouds will arrive ahead of the late Sunday/Monday storm. This storm will favor the coastal areas and there should be no rain concerns.

Early Next Week: moderate temps, snow (low confidence).
After the Sunday/Monday storm wraps up, more snowfall is likely. Timing, strength, and location of the snowfall is uncertain, but at this point it looks like both the coast and interior could get snow. Significant rain concerns are unlikely.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Cornbiscuit - 11.14.2015

Updated 1.14.2019 to include another great day on Cornbiscuit.

After spending 14 hours on a plane, and the previous week in the desert, we landed in Anchorage on Friday morning.

Digging into the weather history, one thing was clear: winds had scoured Turnagain Pass. Gap winds, outflow winds, storm winds, from the north, east, and west.
Saturday morning, looking for protected terrain, we worked our way back into the valley.

Starting to figure out the snowpack, Zack picked a zipper chute for the second run.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Pinnacle - 1.4.2020

When I was a young grasshopper in Colorado I drooled over the exploits of Alaskans like Peter Knape, Billy Finley, and Joe Stock. Peter's writing had me dreaming of Turnagain spines in alpenglow. From Billy I was fantasizing about exploring the Chugach. And one of Joe's posts stood out: the Pinnacle.

Since first reading about the Pinnacle, I've been waiting for the right weather, snowpack, partners, and schedules. On Saturday, after seven years, the stars aligned to ski all four sides of the massif.

The morning light was starting to kiss Independence Mine as we approached the Pinnacle. Under the southwest Pinnacle chute we turned right, threw our skis on our packs, and headed up.

Per usual, the southwest chute was a mix of powder, windboard, and breakable crust. As we booted past the col the snow deepened and the pitch ramped up to the summit cone. I began to have visions of peeling backwards off the face and felt like I was going slab climbing not skiing. I made a pact not to become an alpinist. After the 30 minutes of alternating between using our hands as shovels and snow pickets the slope began to back off.

I'd never been on top of the Pinnacle before and was surprised by how big the summit was. I think Zack was stoked about it too.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Delia Peak - 4.1.2018

2018 was a Hatcher year. It was stable, deep, and soft, and we had a great time exploring new zones, revisiting old ones, and linking up favorites. With a fat snowpack down low, the Mint Valley alder jungle was buried, and we focused on Arcose Ridge. After years of staring at Delia Peak from Rae Wallace, Sidney Creek, and, well, everywhere else it was time to check it off.

As we climbed out of the cold inversion of the valley bottom and into the sunshine of the basin Alex, Charlie, Josh, and Zack raced for the chance to break trail.

The peloton of skinny fast dudes quickly had us on top of Arcose Ridge from where we looked behind us into the heart of the Mint Valley. We'd ski Montana Peak a week later. I'm dreaming about another window to get more of those.

We followed the wide ridge east to the summit of Delia. At the high point we could look straight at the twin peaks of Souvenir and the west bowl they guard. I remembered lying on Souvenir's overhung summit, looking 500 feet straight down, and feeling the tickle in my grundel.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

East Killiak - 3.26.2019

After an extended period of stormy weather, we were looking for a "moderate" objective to get our noses into the snowpack. After some back and forth about what moderate means, we settled on East Killiak. Like so many other memories, the day started on Prudhoe Bay Road.

We hiked up the access trail, switched to skins, and were soon following the familiar route up the Ram Glacier. On the way, we passed under the sharkey north face of Cumulus and the stacked massif of Raina:

Under the huge amphitheater at the top of the glacier we curved left to Bombardment Pass. Hard to think of other lines that pair as nicely as Korohusk's dogleg and pinner.

The descent from Bombardment Pass is straightforward, but we managed a confused route down loose moraine covered in a dusting of snow and seeps of water ice. Tumbling down scree makes for stronger memories. Peters Peak: