Winter has been slow in arriving here: we still have flowers in our front yard and the forecast has included ridiculous terms like "tropical infusion". So, the snow line has stayed high - well above treeline, which combined with lots of precipitation has limited our chances to get into the alpine. Finally, yesterday was clear and we couldn't wait to head out.
Still not sure about the snow base we'd find, we headed for the Jewel Glacier above Girdwood. As we started the 3 km approach the mountains above us were lit up by the rising sun.
Getting closer to the snow...
Hiking up Crow Creek towards the Jewel Glacier brought the heightened sense of awareness that only comes with visiting a new place - the sensation that so many of us seek, where the world seems so vivid and saturated with color - the feeling of being alive.
Carried on by the crisp morning air and a cool breeze, we were soon jamming our feet into our ski boots and skinning onward.
Man, does the sun feel good or what?
Looking back, quite the pack of people were snaking up the valley behind us, so we decided to start the day by dropping north towards the Raven Glacier and into the darkness. First turns of the year!
Then we headed back up onto the Jewel.
The top of the Jewel brought another round of new and jaw-dropping views. Looking south into the Milk Glacier Valley:
Working our way down the Jewel:
At the bottom, there was really only one logical option: another lap!
This time we decided to climb a bit higher on the headwall above the Jewel. Climbing farther than Rachel, I suddenly found myself on an awesome knife edge ridge. Peering over the edge to the Milk Glacier 1,000 feet below, I worked my way along the slippery snow-covered rock to my drop in.
I looked back to see Rachel on her own airy perch ready to drop in:
Rachel dropped first and I followed her as we yo-yoed our way down the glacier and the snow covered moraine below.
As we dropped lower, milking the last few turns, the snow quickly disappeared, but hey, rain crust does have some value!
Sitting inside writing this, we're back into the warm, wet weather - waiting for the next break in the clouds and that next adventure to a new place.