Monday, November 18, 2013

Manitoba Mountain - 11.17.2013

This winter is not off to a good start, but its not off to a bad start either. "Odd" is the best way to put it. Back in mid-September, East Anchorage saw plummeting temperatures and 15 cm of new snow. The eternal optimist inside of me was convinced: this was an early start to what was going to be an epic winter. We then spent the next month running on dry trails, with weather so warm I often found myself running shirtless in my shorts. Of course, nothing to complain about. Then it started raining; I figured this was another positive - rain would definitely prevent depth hoar formation. Then, last Saturday we drove 2 hours each way following beta that turned out to be significantly shallower than the puddles we drove through on the way. But, we saw a new place, so another successful adventure. Finally, on Sunday, a storm funneling up the Cook Inlet brought 30 cm of snow to Turnagain and well over a meter of snow to the Talkeetnas. I figured we were set, a great start towards bridging the depth hoar at Hatcher. Then it rained at Hatcher. First World problems.

Things were not looking promising for the weekend. I managed to contract some sort of stomach plague on Thursday; while crawling back and forth from the bed to to toilet I had plenty of time to contemplate not only the philly cheesesteak I had regrettably eaten, but also where to go skiing.

The debate continued well into Saturday morning before Owen, Alex, and I finally headed south towards Summit Lake's Manitoba Mountain.

Owen was nice enough to play guide and we were soon through the alders with our goal in sight.


The nice thing about bringing Alex along is that you can guarantee that he will have more energy than you. "I can break trail for awhile" - how about from now on?


Reaching the ridgeline, the north winds, funneling air straight from the arctic, reminded us we were alive, and just how fast it's possible to rip your skins off and get ready to ski.


Stoked or cold? Both?


Back at the bottom of the upper pitch, the shadows were growing longer. So, we headed for the car. Owen making his way down.


Still going, crush the brush!


Hardly a bad view for our last turns.


Back at the car, not a bad view either. If you look closely in the looker's left bowl, you can see many numerous point release avalanches of the storm running on depth hoar.


Sunday dawned even colder, but knowing we would find good snow and solitude, Rachel and I headed back to Manitoba. It blows me away that so much water can flow when its so cold; a month of rain takes a long time to drain out of the ground!


Despite the -15 C temperatures, mother earth still seems to be a bit confused about the season:


Reaching treeline, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the cruel winds from the day before had died down. Rachel knows textured snow means good snow:


Yep, that was goood.


Lets do it again!


Its so fun seeing new views every day, I feel like a kid. Window shopping towards Silvertip:


Milking the apron, just as good the second time around.


Success!


With two laps in the books the winter sun was getting low in the sky, already itching for more, we skied down towards the car.