Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Anchorage Ski Outlook - 3.3.2021

Thurs – Fri: rising temps, warm in sun, light coastal snow (high confidence).
Cold, clear, and inverted temps then clouding up with arrival of Friday's small storm. The storm will favor mountains closest to the western Prince William Sound; no rain concerns. Sun affect on steep, low elevation southern slopes. Light ridgetop winds. Colder, clearer, dryer inland.

Weekend: clearing skies, dropping temps, mostly dry (high confidence).
Clouds depart replaced by cold, clear, and inverted temps. Sun affect on steep southern slopes. Ridgetop winds and gap winds for Seward, Portage, Crow Pass, and Thompson Pass. Colder, but clearing last inland.

Early Next Week: mild temps, moderate snow (low confidence).
Likely multiple pulses of snow first arriving late Monday, followed by more Wednesday. Snow favoring mountains close to PWS. Rising temps and increasing winds with each pulse of snow. Colder, clearer, and dryer inland. 

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Mystery and A1 - February 2021

It was early February and the backcountry communities of the western US had been rocked by accident after accident. Those accidents had extended across people we know and places we love, making the thought of heading into big avalanche terrain particularly unappealing.

While the mountains take away, they also heal. So, joined by Najeeby, Dmitry and I headed out for a mellow day of mountain therapy on A1. Reaching the bumpy ridgeline sloping towards the summit, we climbed above the thick valley fog.

Photo Dmitry Surnin

Leaving the wisps of cold moisture behind, many memories and future dreams appeared around us. To the south were the long north faces of Mount Alyeska and Little League dropping into the cold and dark of Winner Creek.


Following the rolling ridge higher, the giants of Upper 20 Mile came into view. Peak 5825 rises almost 6,000 feet straight out of Lake Carmen; the large pile of snow and ice reminds me of Carpathian, I'd love to ski it someday:

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Delia Peak - 4.1.2018

Note: Updated to include a sunny weekend in Two Mile Creek.

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.

Peak 5100 - 3.22.2020

Note: Updated to include a sunny weekend in Two Mile Creek.

Some of the best days of backcountry skiing are the those spent easily linking valleys and peaks - climbing one valley wall then effortlessly skiing deeper. One March day in the Mint Valley was just that as we connected lap after lap around Delia Creek and Peak 5100.

In the cold of the clear early morning we skinned out of the dark parking lot and into the hanging valley north of Delia Creek. We followed our skintrack from a few days before which was barely visible under a thick blanket of new snow. 

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

We wrapped upwards around the back of the valley and into the sun. At the top we soaked up the warm spring light and views of the big peaks rising from the Little Su, then transitioned to descend back into the shade.

Photo: Brandon Schmidt

When Brandon and his skis slid over the dark edge we knew it was going to be a good day. There was no sign of a surface slab as the faceted pow sloughed lighted away from his turns. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Archived 2020 Anchorage Ski Outlooks

4.1.2020

Thurs – Fri: warm, small storm (high confidence).
Thursday night's storm will bring snow to all our mountains. Snow totals won't be big, but enough to improve current firm snow conditions. Rain possible at sea level. Drying Friday afternoon with light gap winds for Turnagain Arm, Whittier, and Seward.

Weekend: warm, Sunday storm (high confidence).
Saturday is the calm before the next storm. Sunday's storm will favor Hatcher Pass, the Anchorage Front Range will do OK, and Turnagain Pass will do the worst. Snow totals in inches. Rain at sea level. Winds increasing with Sunday storm.

Early Next Week: moderate temps, Tuesday storm possible (low confidence).
Sunday's storm will continue showers at Hatcher into Monday. Monday will be moderately windy for all mountains. There is high confidence in cooling temps, but low confidence in another possible storm Tuesday. Wednesday towards the weekend looks to be dry.