Friday, November 20, 2015

Cornbiscuit - 11.14.2015

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.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tincan Creek - 4.25.2015

Backcountry skiing is about so much more than fitness and athletic ability. To play the game is a lesson in weather, snow science, communication, and yourself.

The sun was high in the sky and we were working hard to find north aspects that still harbored winter snow. We set out for the intimidating north face of Kickstep.

Our review of the weather forecast did not show any sign of wind that could make the face unstable. But, working our way up Tincan Creek, snow plumes off the high peaks meant there was room for improvement in our weather knowledge.

Crossing the pocket glacier we observed that the swirling winds had produced pockets of windslab in the big terrain around us. The face was too exposed to risk even a small pocket of instability.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Little Switzerland - April 2015

It was a Friday afternoon in April, I was sitting at my desk, twiddling with a database, and contemplating how my life needed more adventure. A text came in from Amy: we’re bailing on the Whale’s Tail Traverse, want to go to Little Switzerland on Sunday?
The Colony Glacier.

I met Amy once while skiing Turnagain Pass the previous week. I’d never met Susan or Mary. Was this crazy? I had not been paying attention to the Alaska Range weather and needed to ask around. A text came back from Joe: "The snowpack should be fat and stable. Go”
Looking down from the Munchkin.

By Saturday morning I’d decided. After a call to my boss for clearance, I started to pack. Malcolm ran me thru a glacier travel refresher. I stopped by Alex and Robert’s to borrow a few pieces of gear.

Home sweet home.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chitna Pass - September 2015

For Alaska crusher Alex Geilich a good adventure should be scary, painful, or gorgeous.  Ideally, all of the above. When Alex came back delighted with the Chitna Pass backpack, I figured it rated highly on the Geilich Beauty Scale and was immediately intrigued.
Alex sent me a map and I looked at a few pictures; that was enough. A fall Saturday found us sitting at the Pinochle Creek trailhead on an overcast morning. Everyone else in the parking lot had a truck and an ATV trailer. Clearly, this was the right spot. Zach, Khalial, and Andalyn had all done some research, between the four of us the route could be pieced together.

The route was quickly confirmed by plenty of ATVs and mud. From Pinochle Creek a small pass brought us to Hicks Creek.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Kanuti Picture Project

Updated 8.28.2015 - At 1.64 million acres Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge is about the size of Delaware; it provides crucial habitat for bird, mammal, and fish species. Kanuti has no designated trails, campsites, or public use cabins within its boundaries. Its huge and untouched; places like this are why we live here.

If there is enough light to work and enough water to measure, we work in Kanuti nearly every month. Like the Prince William Sound Picture Project, this post is made up of unique and memorable moments that stand out.

I lost my camera last September in Kanuti, this is one of the last pictures I took with it. In July my coworker Jasper found it. I'm looking forward to taking it back up there next month.

The Jack White Range is a subrange of the Brooks Range. That's just about all I could find about these mountains. This sort of unknown makes Alaska special.

Floatplanes bound for Bettles used to land on a straightaway of the Koyukuk River. But then, as they tend to do, the river meandered. A floatplane lake was constructed to replace the lost "airport".