Monday, November 12, 2018

Pioneer Peak - 3.30.2018

Over the last two days Brian and Sam had both skied Pioneer, and it was about to get a refresh - it was time to go get it. Only two small problems: I didn't own ice tools, and Alex had a project due at work. Easily remedied. That night I went to REI, and Alex called in sick with a bad case of powder fever.

Pioneer's giant north face towering over Palmer.

The next morning found us driving back and forth on the Old Glenn looking for the north face trail-head. After a few laps we'd located the appropriate thicket and were skinning into the alders. Within 500 vertical feet we'd reached the avy debris and were soon climbing mellow ice.

I'd never used ice tools before, and was pleased to see how much better they performed than my finger nails and running shoes. Kind of like being a cyborg.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Kickstep - 1.25.2015 & 1.31.2016

Updated 11.12.2018 to include another great day on Kickstep.

There are days that you know that you have everything in your favor: weather, stability, beta, etc. Then, there are days where some pieces of the puzzle might not fit, you don't know how it will turn out.

Josh on the approach up CFR ridge.

Sunday was a day that started out as a question mark, but in the end, it lined up perfectly.

The warm up run.

The question mark was the weather, forecast to be cold and breezy. Cold enough that a wrong turn, avalanche, or crevasse incident could mean hypothermia. We set our sights on a smaller objective: the Library via Tincan Proper.

The Library dwarfed by Kickstep.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Montana Peak - 4.7.2018

Saturday morning on Buffalo Mine Road started memorably with a standoff against an angry moose. We wanted access to Moose Creek, the gatekeeper wanted to resume sleeping in the middle of the road; and a charge and trampling seemed imminent. Could we reverse faster than it could charge? Was jettisoning the sled over the bank into alder hell worth it? Who was more stubborn?  Eventually the moose relented, curled up to sleep on the shoulder, and...

Photo: Seth Kiester

...we were rewarded with more trail finding through the alders.

Photo: Seth Kiester

Eventually the brush cleared, the snowpack deepened, and we chased wolverine tracks up the valley as ptarmigan exploded out of the bushes around us. The cirques, bowls, and couloirs of the Moose Creek were filled with the tracks of heli skiers hiding from the winds that had crushed the Chugach for weeks. At the head of the valley we parked the sleds and skinned towards the southeast face of Montana Peak.

Photo: Seth Kiester

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Eagle River to Eklutna - September 2018

We spent a marathon Monday in the kitchen processing three caribou and chatting about ideas for the following weekend. Tony suggested Ram Valley to Eklutna; what a perfect backyard idea connecting so many favorite places! Saturday morning found us hiking up the familiar trail to Falling Water valley.

In the unusually hot September sun we treadmilled up the scree pass between Peking and Peak 5320. Behind Alyse is one of Raina's long coolies that link up well with so many other lines in the area.

At the pass, it was ginger chicken wraps for lunch with a view of Foraker for dessert.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Falls Creek - 4.29.2018

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.