Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mount Iliamna - April 2017

When April rolled around we started looking for a weather window for a fly-in trip. Where to go was the next question - despite great local skiing all winter, the snowpack was thin in the high peaks. The Pitchfork was at the top of the list, but we couldn't justify gambling on an expensive and committing trip to the dry side of the Neacolas.

So, when our weather window arrived, we mustered the troops, crammed into Seth's truck, and drove toward Doug Brewer's airstrip in Nikiski. The plan was to setup a base camp, climb and ski Iliamna, then crank laps near base camp until the weather deteriorated.

Rolling onto the runway, it was hard to believe that it could be winter anywhere.

As the plane climbed steeply above the Cook Inlet, winter came into sight. Mount Spur to the north - this one is going to be a nice weekend adventure.

Mount Redoubt. This is right next to the Pitchfork and the Malignant Couloir at the top of the Wish List.

The Wish List

Updated May 2017 - The list isn't in any order and will, of course, always be incomplete.

Mount Redoubt:

Malignant Couloir:

Polar Bear:

Photo: Brady Deal

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mount Rumble - 5.5.2017

Skiing Rumble is following the footsteps of Alaskan skiing giants: Okonek, Stock, Thrasher, Brunton, Shlosar, to name a few. Its been skied by a variety of routes and lengths of time. Each based on a preference for slogging, comfort, or sheer brute strength. Last Friday, after getting a favorable report (thanks Scott and Peter), Alex, Andy, and I were ready to give it a go.

As we've waited for a weather, stability, and schedule window, we've tossed around ideas of reasonable ways to ski Rumble. We settled on entering Peters Creek via the X Couloir, then egressing via Raina. With a low snow year we stayed in our running shoes until we were on the Falling Water rock glacier. Across the way were lots of good memories of linkups on Raina. The fat chute connects nicely with Mount Pleasant, the X, and, well, Rumble.

At 9:30 we dropped into the X. Andy skiing towards moraine flow lobes in the valley below:

Somehow I had forgotten just how aesthetic the X is. Perhaps the good memories was drowned out by our previous epic here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Korohusk - 4.8.2017

The first time we skied Korohusk, Carpathian had been the day before. Then, to start the day, we sent Tarah and Max's Subaru backwards and sideways down Mariah Drive and into a ditch. When Tarah got out she promptly ended up on the ice under her car. When I got out I ended up on my face in the ditch 100 meters below the car.

I was hoping things would be equally exciting this time around. Fortunately, last week I managed to contract the plague, so things were looking up for an adventure! Apparently there was widespread collapsing as we skinned up the valley, but I did not notice such minor details thru the haze of sinus headaches and snot rockets. Arriving at the head of the valley the snow deepened and signs of instability decreased.

Photo: Zack Fields

We started with the Korohusk's pinner couloir. Its an unusual one, the right wall is really just a large flake, which disappears at points. Maybe Alex is covering his face to avoid peering off the edge?

I spent most of the climb raving about how much I loved my Verts and how I couldn't imagine anyone climbing anything without them. Tony does not have Verts, I bet he loved the constant reminder of how much harder his day was.

Photo: Zack Fields

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Arctic to Indian - 2.5.2017

Almost everyone around town has done Arctic to Indian. Shoot, most people have done it multiple times, even multiple times each year. However, I unreasonably prioritize backcountry skiing above everything, so I miss out on a lot of other fun things. But, after starting out the weekend by skiing Byron and Wolverine, I was willing to try something else.

The descent down to Ship Creek was one of the most exhilarating things I've done in awhile. It also made me wonder why cross country skiers don't wear helmets. And hockey pads. And how anyone could consider cross country skiing safer than downhill skiing.

We reached Ship Creek and began to follow it upstream just as the sun was starting to touch Temptation Peak. It might be covered in beautiful couloirs and spires, but I still haven't been tempted to brave the bushwhacking and slogging to get there.

First light along the creek was absolutely magical: clouds of mist with each breath, huge crystals of hoar frost formed from the creek's unlimited supply of moisture, and the sun sparkling in the trees. Temps around -5 F were also very similar to those of the previous morning on the way up Byron.