Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Anchorage Ski Outlook - 3.31.2021

Thurs – Fri: mostly sunny, moderate temps, lovely (high confidence).
Moderate temps. Sunniest at Thompson Pass. Warm in sun with sun effect. Moderate winds for Seward, the Thompson Pass road corridor, and the Anchorage Front Range; light ridgetop winds elsewhere. Good days to get powder fever.

Weekend: warm, snowy, windy (high confidence).
Moderate/heavy snowfall for Hatcher decreasing as you go towards Turnagain; moderate snow for Thompson Pass; rain at sea level. Clearing first at Turny and last at Hatcher.

Early Next Week: moderate temps, some sun/clouds/snow (low confidence).
Monday partly sunny. Tues/Wed snow possible for the Prince William Sound mountains and drier inland with winds for the Anchorage Front Rage, Seward, and the Thompson Pass road corridor. Warm in sun with sun effect.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Highbush, Lingon & Kinnikinnick - March 2021

As March arrives the sun rises higher in the sky, and our focus shifts from the golden midwinter light of south faces to the shady north slopes. With that transition there is a nexus where longer days allow us to reach the farther out solar slopes before the sun does. 

In early March, with that sweet spot in mind, we headed up Peterson Creek hoping to beat the sun to Punch Bowl. The Peterson approach was the usual mix of hopping between frozen rocks, crawling under gateways of alders, and inching across icy overflow - all important ingredients for cooking up a good mountain memory.

Dmitry was excited to be out, and lead the charge, bringing us to the shoulder of Bearberry Point:


Feeling the chilly morning air bite our cheeks, we party skied the mellow slopes of the glacier into Kern. Above D and Nyssa is Lowbush; there's a funny memory of watching Neil drop into its face only to watch a slab rip at his feet. With eyes like saucers Andrew immediately turned around and skied the other way.



Once past Lowbush we looked up at the low pass that would take us into the Punchbowl. Rising above Dmitry is the big south face of Highbush; its a fun one to dream about, but conditions would have to be perfect to get it safely. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Souvenir Peak - 3.17.2018

Note: Updated to include a frigid March day in Lone Tree Gulch.

Guarded by its twin vertical summits, the west bowl of Souvenir has been an obsession this season. With a foot of fresh and a break between storm systems, we set out last Saturday from Gold Mint to check it out. Rounding the corner of the valley, the Mint peaks came into view:


At the corner, we left the Mint Valley and skinned into the hanging valley below Souvenir. Thanks to Josh for the artwork. Meow meow!

Photo: Josh Gray

The valley floor is filled by mounded moraines from a glacier long gone, while the walls are carved by that same glacier.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Pinnacle - 1.4.2020

Note: Updated to include an optimized Pinnacle linkup.

When I was a young grasshopper in Colorado I drooled over the exploits of Alaskans like Peter Knape, Billy Finley, and Joe Stock. Peter's writing had me dreaming of Turnagain spines in alpenglow. From Billy I was fantasizing about exploring the Chugach. And one of Joe's posts stood out: the Pinnacle.

Since first reading about the Pinnacle, I've been waiting for the right weather, snowpack, partners, and schedules. On Saturday, after seven years, the stars aligned to ski all four sides of the massif.

The morning light was starting to kiss Independence Mine as we approached the Pinnacle. Under the southwest Pinnacle chute we turned right, threw our skis on our packs, and headed up.


Per usual, the southwest chute was a mix of powder, windboard, and breakable crust. As we booted past the col the snow deepened and the pitch ramped up to the summit cone. I began to have visions of peeling backwards off the face and felt like I was going slab climbing not skiing. I made a pact not to become an alpinist. After the 30 minutes of alternating between using our hands as shovels and snow pickets the slope began to back off.


I'd never been on top of the Pinnacle before and was surprised by how big the summit was. I think Zack was stoked about it too.

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: