Sunday, April 10, 2016

Eagle Peak - 3.14.2016

by Ethan Vimont

7 PM the night before.... I sit silently, staring blankly at a cup of water feeling very tired, and feeling proud for struggling up 17,000 feet in the last two days. I also find myself ready for a nice break the next day. I begin imagining sleeping in when Mike's very alert and not tired voice breaks in with something like: "Yowza! (this may not be an exact quote) it looks like our weather window is just about up. If we want to ski something big this week, tomorrow it is! You ready for Eagle Peak?! Boing, boing, pant, pant, vvvrrrrrrrrrrrr...." (Mike occasionally vibrates when he gets excited). Then he does a few standing backflips in his kitchen to demonstrate how excited he is for another huge day.

"Ummm... Okay." I figured asking any details in my exhausted state might talk me out of doing something silly and fun, so I decide to wait to ask those until I'd had some dinner.

After I had given my body some calories Mike informed me that Eagle Peak would involve a few mile approach, a thousand feet of bushwhacking, and a total climb of 7,000 feet. Good thing I waited to ask, but I had committed, and as any good politician will tell you once you make up your mind, you mustn't change it.

It did not disappoint, and 20 hours later we got this:
Mike and Brady just having a laugh at how much good suffering the climb had been.

Mike may be holding me up in this picture. Photo: Brady Deal

But, first we actually had to climb it. Mike had easily convinced Brady to come along. Early in the morning we headed up Eagle Valley, and began a pleasant walk along the trail which was literally a sheet of ice. We quickly reached the river, and found a handy ice bridge to skip across.

Photo: Brady Deal

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mount Pleasant - 3.12.2016

I picked Ethan up at the airport on Friday night at 10, by 7 the next morning we were headed for Eagle River. Getting the Eagle River giants is hard: snowpack information is limited, days are big, consequences are high, and you are dealing with a dryer, cooler and hence, less stable snowpack than many of our go-to areas.

But, we'd been working our way into the zones over the last month, and with the help of the Anchorage Avalanche Center, Alex and I were optimistic about deep stability. Plus, there was a nice refresh of snow from the previous week.

Snacktime on the glacier. 

Nearing the head of the valley we left the lobes of intertwined rock and ice and started up the long south gully of Pleasant. Here's Alex forgetting that other people might like to do switchbacks instead of going straight up. However, straight is more efficient.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Penguin - 3.13.2016

Every day hoards of skiers drive past Penguin on their way to Alyeska, Turnagain, and Summit. We usually do too. There are reasons for that. Among others, it lies in the transition zone between the wet and warm coastal climate and the dry and cooler Chugach Front Range climate, it gets hammered by winds blowing both ways through Turnagain arm, and you're looking at an initial elevation gain of over 4,000 vertical feet.

Almost done with that first 4,000 feet.

With the Anchorage Avalanche Center up there the day before, we had the beta we wanted. The views alone were enough of a reason to go. Falls Creek is tucked in there, hiding behind the crew.

Looking northeast into the heart of the Chugach and towards Bird Peak. This one is near the top of Alex's hit list. Mine too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rae Wallace - 3.18.2016

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:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hanging Valley - 2.7.2016

Eagle River is a land of huge peaks, deep couloirs, and a temperamental snowpack.

Brady and Sarah entering the upper basin.

Approaches are often long, access is tenuous, and snowpack information is limited.
The views are one of many reasons to go.

Recently I've heard report after report of good conditions in Hanging Valley. Brunton, Zack and Khalial, and Erin and Abe have all been back there lately. Plus, the approach and access are uncharacteristically easy for ER.

Sarah taking it all in from the top of the first run. Harp in front of Foraker and Denali.