Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bertha Creek - January 2016

When I went south for Christmas it started snowing at Turnagain, and it hadn't stopped when I got back from Japan almost a month later. The constant snowfall meant there were no weak layers in the snowpack. It also meant the alpine were relatively off limits in the zero contrast January light. We needed somewhere with a source of contrast other than sun, a zone with rocks.

All by ourselves, breaking trail up a huge valley, it felt good to be home.

Picking one of ten incised chutes above us we skinned up before switching to booting to finish it off.

We watched from a hanging loft as Andalyn dropped first and retraced our steps.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Eddies North - 2.11.2017

When we skied the southwest face of Wolverine last week I couldn't take my eyes of the wall across the way: pinner chutes so tight and incised that that they're barely visible. Despite sunnier and easier options I convinced Alex and Bobby to check em out.

Things started off well with a forgotten beacon and a memorable scramble in and out of the Wolverine Creek gorge.

Photo: Bobby Lieberman

Then we were out of the gorge and into the jaw-dropping valley. Breaking trail in the morning light as the final snowflakes of the last storm fell out of the blue sky was one of those really special moments of perfection.

Photo: Bobby Lieberman

Arriving at the bottom of the chute, we could see that it had slid during the night, then filled back in. Perfect. Under the imposing south face of Wolverine we switched over to booting. Noah Lohr and Eric Dahl's insane line from last week is visible behind us.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Clear Creek (Chunilna) - June 2016

Clear Creek came with high expectations: a fun train ride out of Talkeetna, a hike with views of the Alaska Range, a campsite on the tundra, an exciting float back to Talkeetna, and big hype. Back on a June weekend we decided to check it out. By early Saturday afternoon we were on the train and headed north.

Tundra cruising on Saturday.

Previous rides on the train have been delayed by moose and the associated requisite halting and reversing of tons of steel. Fortunately, no moose were sited and we were on the ground in Curry relatively quickly.

After a short delay to retrieve a runaway bearspray we were past the gravel pit and thrashing thru alders onto the ATV trail.

The trail provided a sense of direction, but no break from the bushwhacking as we thrashed upward thru the green tunnel.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Japanuary 2016

Backcountry skiing requires three simple things: snow, weather, and terrain. If you just want snow you could go to Buffalo NY, Moab is usually sunny, and the coast of Hawaii has steep, interesting terrain. The moment the three elements are combined it becomes a complex problem of local weather, repeat avalanche offenders, and snowfall history. Its hard enough somewhere you know like the back of your hand, let alone on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. 

After an incredible time in Hakuba in January 2015, Alex and I couldn't wait to go back. Erik Mehus, Ken Hill, and Josh Wulff were itching to join. There was just one problem: it was raining in Hakuba. So, one week before flying west, we changed our whole trip. 

There were no van rentals left in Hokkaido, so we'd have to drive north from Tokyo - at night, jetlagged, on the wrong side of the road, and with no knowledge of Japanese. Driving away from the airport was terrifying.

Going north there was less and less road and more and more snow.

By dawn we were almost to Hakoda.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Crow Pass to Glen Alps - July 2016

As the crow flies, the Glen Alps and Crow Pass trailheads are less than 20 miles apart. By car, that distance is more than doubled. So why not hike between them?

After setting up a shuttle at Glen Alps we headed for Girdwood and started hiking. Shortly after Crow Pass we left the trail and sidehilled towards the Clear Glacier drainage and Steamroller Pass.

Peter, Evan, and Becca with the Raven and Jewel Glaciers.

Once above the valley, we followed a game trail up the scree to the top Steamroller Pass.

Below us lay a paradise of peacefully grazing sheep and the Archangel Lakes. To avoid any harrowing downclimbs we descended along the right valley wall.