Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Anchorage Shred Outlook - 1.20.2021

Thurs – Fri: snow showers, ridgetop winds, warm (high confidence).
Snow showers favoring mountains closer to the western PWS (Whittier, Turnagain, Girdwood), with rain mixing in near sea level. Colder, clearer, and dryer inland. Winds ramp up Fri with approaching storm.

Weekend: snow Sat, clearing Sun, windy (high confidence).
Moderate snowfall Saturday favoring mountains closer to the western PWS, with rain mixing in near sea level. Sunday expect clearing skies, dropping temps, and ridgetop and gap winds. Colder and dryer inland. 

Early Next Week: some sun, some clouds, moderate temps (moderate confidence).
Temps bottom out Monday morning, then rise with approaching nearby storm. Into Tuesday, light snowfall favoring mountains closer to the western Prince William Sound possible; no rain concerns; dry with some sun Mon and Wed. Colder, clearer, and dryer inland. 

Read more >>  

Monday, January 18, 2021

North Bowl - 12.5.2020

Its pour raining in Anchorage. Actually. No. Its pouring rain SIDEWAYS in Anchorage. This isn't all bad - we're getting to test our new window - its not leaking...yet. And, while this gray, drippy, and dreary weather makes people want to jam their heads into the blankets and emerge March, it makes me a neurotic mess questioning the meaning of life. Great for getting projects done. Until I run out of projects. Then the quality of the projects go downhill, case in point: our mailbox.

Nyssa says I'm scary when I'm bored, so hopefully a little blogging will keep me from taking the chainsaw to the house in favor of reminiscing about a colder (and less gray) day last month:

Pulling into the dark South Fork parking lot it was 3 degrees, that's 35 degrees colder than it is now. There were lots of familiar faces in the lot and it was fun catching up with Jessie and Peter on the skin track. When they stopped to put on their ski crampons at Hunter Pass my initial reaction was: "I don't need those!" Then they went zipping past across the tilted frozen tundra. 

The goal had been to ski in the sun, but the sunny slopes were wind scoured and looked very spikey. So, the decision was made to drop into the deep freeze of North Bowl. Good, sun is too pleasant anyways.

Photo Erin Larson

The bowl skied OK, and got better lower down, but we hadn't given up on the sun, and decided to skin towards a a couple promising gullies in the sun. Starting to skin it quickly became apparent that we were back to a thin and spikey aspect, but being stubborn masochists we kept dragging our skins up the icy and rocky skin track. This is likely the same stubborn masochistic habit that had me pass on the easier and better paying degree in Construction Management.

Getting into the gullies was a challenge as we lurched over the thinly covered rocks. The snow in the gully wasn't too bad, though not good enough to waste another run on. Below us the foggy inversion of the Anchorage bowl was coming into the light:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Granddaddy Tour - 12.6.2015

Note: Updated to include another great Granddaddy tour.

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, January 5, 2021

Goldpan - 12.13.2018

Note: Updated to include another great day at Goldpan Mountain Resort.

Alaska is the land of feast or famine. November brought days of rain, rain, rain to the Kenai Mountains. Fortunately, days of rain at the road mean feet of snow in the alpine, and in early December we finally got the weather window we'd been waiting for.

It was dark and cold as we broke trail out of the Sunburst lot, along Taylor Creek, and up Basketball. Climbing higher, we watched the sun kiss Turnagain's crown jewel:

Not entirely sure about stability and snow, we started with a long, protected spine towards Bertha Creek. Jono offered to go first; we could barely see him through the trail of cold smoke he left behind. It was going to be a good day.

Playing leapfrog down the long spine, I looked up to see a partially submerged Bucky. He'd later say this was the deepest day he's ever skied in the alpine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Japanese Trees - 12.26.2020

There is nothing sweeter in the outdoors than exploring somewhere new. Or at least that was our excuse as we drove to, past, and beyond the new snow and deep base of Turnagain for the thinner and worse snowpack of Summit. 

True to our mission, none of us had skied the Japanese Trees before and had for location information a sentence from an avalanche observation. But, as we pulled into the parking lot next to Summit Lake and peered into the bushes we could see skintrack disappearing across the road. Sweet success! Knowing Summit's track record as the place to have your car broken into, we side-eyed the unassuming yuppies in the parking lot then played Frogger across the icy road.

Tom wondering how many laps of stinging horizontal snow are tolerable.

Climbing thru the open glades did indeed feel a bit like the birch forests of Japan. Like those past trips to the Land of The Rising Sun, the new zone closer to home still brought the same enhanced sensation only new experiences can bring - a sharpening of the senses like a microscope coming into focus.

After a few laps the snow tapered off and a hint of sun appeared to the south.

We used the first laps to optimize our ascents and winding descents from alder glades through the birch trees to the road. As the clouds retreated north the snow was painted with a subtle peach glaze - nothing our consumer cameras could capture, but focused in our eyes by the experience of the new.
Photo Nyssa Landres