Friday, February 5, 2016

Big Chief - 1.29.2016

Last week brought storm after storm and foot after foot of snow to Turnagain. As the week progressed the forecast for the weekend improved. We would have soft snow, stability, and weather. Perfect.

The crew with the stacked 20 Mile zone in the background. Someday.

Everyone was excited to take advantage of the conditions, and an adventure to Big Chief was settled on. As usual the gameplan was flexibility, our line down would be based on stability.

Reaching Seattle Ridge, the steep and imposing north face came into view.

Done with the first climb, we ripped our skins, took in the fascinating motorhead scene, then party skied into the drainage. Climbing again, we picked out future bad ideas on the Seattle Creek Headwall. So much to ski back here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Library - 12.24.2015

Tired from a long and cold tour the previous day, I was trying to motivate for another big day. Fortunately, there was absolutely no way Brady or Alex were going to let me get away with lazy behavior. The Library was decided on.

With the sky getting pink overhead, I awoke out of my morning fog to find us jogging up Tincan Creek. Better yet, we were following the tracks of a wolverine that had probably been jogging even faster. If nothing else it had very very sharp claws.

Photo: Alex Geilich

Next thing I knew, we were wallowing our way up a delicious spine. Around this point I realized that if I leaned back, I would have plenty of time to regret it while I plummeted towards the valley floor.

Photo: Brady Deal

Despite these dark thoughts, deeper snow, and questionable rock-snow stemming technique, we made it to the top of the first line. Alex feeling the stoke:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Santa Tour

At the headwaters of Lyon Creek there are a series of lines with a Christmas theme: Fat Santa, Skinny Santa, and Bad Santa. They are all different, but they have two things in common: 1) They are a pain in the ass to get to. 2) They are awesome.

By sunrise we were past Pastoral, quite cold, and very ready to drop into Skinny Santa. Photo: Andy Milauskas

Bad Santa and Fat Santa are guarded by an exposed and rime covered ridge. It looks like this:

Photo: Josh Wulff

To avoid that ridge, you can start by skiing Skinny Santa.

Andy on the first turns of the first run.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


After a perfect Saturday, the secret was out, and we'd need to go deeper to avoid the crowds. With virtually no solar radiation, sunny south faces seemed appropriate. We decided on a tour around Pastoral Peak.

Climbing above the inversion with lovely purple tones to the west.

First light kissing Kickstep from Taylor Pass; many fun memories in this picture:

Photo: Brady Deal

Two hours after leaving the car our first line was in view. Carpathian looking nice too.

Photo: Brady Deal

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gold Pan - 12.5.2015

Alaska is a land of feast or famine. Thanksgiving brought days of rain to most of the Kenai Mountains, while Hatcher remained under mandatory lock-down because of high avalanche danger.

With the sun low in the sky we aimed for the south facing Gold Pan zone.

Fortunately, days of rain at the road mean feet of snow in the alpine. And, all that warm and wet snow can bury, smash, and stick to old, weak layers.

Before the sun had risen above the horizon, Mary dropped into our first line down Magnum.

Heading back up, the sun felt incredible at the Superbowl saddle.