Monday, May 14, 2018

Raina - 5.5.2018

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.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Peeking - 5.6.2018

Sunday morning found us in Andrew's dark living room sipping coffee and negotiating ski plans for the day. I wanted to return to the dry powder we'd found in Falling Water the day before; Alex wanted something bigger and badder in the Front Range, and Andrew wanted a "moderate" day. A couple hours and one false start at the Basher Trailhead later, and we were changing from running shoes to ski boots at the entrance to Falling Water. Hidden by a curtain of falling snow is Eagle Peak - what a classy line:

We'd seen Seth's truck at the trailhead and ran to catch them. They too were headed for the X Couloir, so we joined forces and zipped up the booter together. Behind Seth and Kate are the Raina couloirs that we had skied on the previous day.

None of us were entirely sure how wind loaded the entrance would be, but protected under the rock buttress it seemed to have escaped the wind. Kate and Ben dropped first between the incised walls, quickly disappearing around the dogleg.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bold Peak - 4.17.2018

Like many favorites, the idea to ski the north face of Bold came years ago while daydreaming through Dongshow Productions. It became a game of waiting for weather, stability, and an available partner. With big lines going down all over the Western Chugach, we decided to give it a go.

I've never been on a fatbike before; the crunchy approach across Eklutna Lake was the perfect introduction - thanks for the loaner Schyler! After 5 miles of chasing Jake through my morning haze we parked at the Bold Valley trail and started hiking. An hour later we were in the hanging valley above the lake.

Past Eklutna Lake, Twin Peaks rose sharply into the sky in the vivid morning light.

Dwarfed by the huge north face, we skinned through the rolling moraines left by the receding glacier. I found this perspective to be particularly intimidating, and focused on my feet and the animal tracks around us rather than the behemoth above.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Souvenir Peak - 3.17.2018

Guarded by its twin vertical summits, the west bowl of Souvenir has been an obsession this season. With a foot of fresh and a break between storm systems, we set out last Saturday from Gold Mint to check it out. Rounding the corner of the valley, the Mint peaks came into view:

At the corner, we left the Mint Valley and skinned into the hanging valley below Souvenir. Thanks to Josh for the artwork. Meow meow!

Photo: Josh Gray

The valley floor is filled by mounded moraines from a glacier long gone, while the walls are carved by that same glacier.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Delia Creek - 3.4.2018

Despite years of drooling over its faces, bowls, and couloirs guarded by tilted conglomerate walls, I've never skied Arcose Ridge before. With a fat snowpack at Hatcher I was out of excuses about alders, so on a beautiful Sunday we parked in the Gold Mint parking lot to check out Delia Creek.

Ahead of us, the west face of Souvenir and its twin summits were still in the morning shade. I'd really like to ski that one.

Working to stay away from major terrain traps, we contoured east thru the hanging valley, and then onto the ridge above Delia Creek. Behind our skinner is Goodhope Creek and the Snowbird Mine Valley. Goodhope is stacked with couloirs, bowls, and pillows, but is a bit tricky to hit right due to its solar aspect.

It was hard to leave the warmth of the spring sun and drop into the cold shade of Delia Creek. Well, it wasn't that hard.