Back in Boulder I had a moment of panic when I discovered that I couldn't fit both pairs of my skis in my ski bag. But, with a little surgery on my Dukes I got it all in. Its nice to know Dukes can essentially be removed from skis by just removing the pivot pin in the toe:
Eventually I was packed and ready to leave Boulder, where it looked like this:
The flight to Phoenix was beautiful; the Sierra Blanca Massif:
The flight from Phoenix to Anchorage didn't go so well: after an hour in the air we were informed that there was a computer error, but we had too much fuel to land. So, we did laps above Phoenix for two more hours to burn off fuel, landed, changed planes, then headed out again. By the morning we were at my good friend Lauren's house in Anchorage. Where we unpacked and repacked:
Then we headed out for an afternoon tour in Anchorage's Front Range. Arriving at the trailhead to find sustained 50 mph winds and wind scoured snow neither of us were too stoked to go any higher. Instead we did 3 hours of beacon practice:
I've never done beacon practice with skis on, or during inclement weather, it was more of a challenge than I expected.
With Tailgate Alaska going on in Valdez, Lauren had the genius idea to rent an RV for the weekend and head to Thompson Pass. The next morning we packed the RV, assembled the crew, found a trailer hitch and headed out.
With generally clear skies, the drive to Valdez was beautiful: the Matanuska Glacier:
Nick took it in from the roadside:
Andy chose the top of the RV...
This could be almost anywhere in the US, almost...
After 7 punishing hours of frost heaves we made it to Thompson Pass:
Saturday arrived with low overcast and light snow down low:
Eventually we got the sleds going and headed into the clouds, where the visibility went from bad to worse. Being high up, in new mountains, in a snow storm was a bit unsettling, obviously. After quickly losing our two friends with sleds, things were off to a frustrating start. Eventually, we found one of the sledders, the other quickly disappeared again after snapping a ski in his sled's track... We dug some pits and headed back to the RV. But, not before finding yogurt-esque snow on the way down. Lauren, unfazed by the snow thickness:
Sunday, we woke up to this:
And that's when everything was instantly awesome. More coming soon...