The last week has been absolutely incredible with adventures including Carpathian, Korohusk, and Ptarmigan. The week before that I spent outside working 12 hour days in the Arctic in windy subzero temperatures. Its been great, but its starting to catch up with me.
But, Tarah has been on a tear of big, adventurous lines lately. So, when she mentioned a Falling Water Valley double feature I couldn't turn it down.
An uncharacteristically early departure from Anchorage meant we were quickly into the familiar and spectacular territory:
After a gentle approach up the valley we turned north and started the climb up the mellow flanks of Raina, which are not all mellow.
Robert, and a cool, bulbous rock glacier. There's also a rad couloir tucked back in there.
Tarah, the remains of the Ram Glacier, and last weekend's spectacular line on Korohusk.
The ridge separating Peters Creek brought more incredible and new views. I think that's Mt. Rumble back there; I'm sure Billy Finley knows.
And, just as planned, we popped out at the top of Tarah's first line. Owen was considerate enough to sacrifice himself and drop first.
Robert: "Does it look so deep cause he's on a snowboard?"
Me: "I should have brought my goggles."
Tarah dropped next,
picking an exposed and sunlight fin.
Her line looked too good to not to try out myself.
Robert brought up the rear, still plenty of snow left in there!
Tarah and Owen looking back at our line from the huge north amphitheater of Raina, a truly incredible place!
After a few high fives, and some much needed sunscreen, we headed north towards where we thought the X Couloir waited. For future reference, the skiers right arm of the X Couloir is clearly marked by the prominent arete below:
Also, it does not require a long and rather trying bootpack through loose scree... O well, it sure was good exercise.
Arriving at the ridgeline we quickly realized that we were not at the top of the X, but instead standing above a very very large cliff. So, I called our friend and mapping genius Malcolm. In a strange twist of fate, Malcolm had intended on catching up with us, but shortly after a run in with a murderous landowner had decided to call it a day. Thanks Malcolm. The other north couloir of Raina:
With Malcolm's excellent directions Robert was soon on top of a much more promising and survivable line:
Light snow, produced by the low anchored off the Alaska Peninsula, had fallen all day, and continued as Owen dropped into the X.
Exceptional backcountry telemarkers and snowboarders are few and far between, they are truly a pleasure to watch. Owen is also in a league of his own:
Robert dwarfed by the north face of Pecking. The skier's right arm of the X enters above him.
Working our way lower through the couloir, the perfect settled powder developed an unruly crust. Robert making the not-easy look easy.
At the bottom of the X, the day got interesting. We had expected a short climb back through a small pass back into Falling Water. Only Tarah had bothered to look at a map. Given that the group was out of water, the climb ahead of us was not categorized as small. Four letter words were uttered. But, at least the views were still great, the other half of the X:
Arriving at the ridgeline, another disappointing discovery, we need to be over there. More four letter words.
Well...lets just follow those goat tracks through the cliffs. We are not goats, more four letter words.
This chute probably goes. Lets ski down it and see. It ends in a hundred foot cliff? I guess we'll hike back up, but only after we take our skis off on an exposed 50 degree face. More four letter words.
Eventually, the decision, that less dehydrated minds would have made have made two hours before, was made: to ski around the cliffs. Getting ready for one last climb.
I spent the last climb debating what I wanted most, an olive bar, a beach, perhaps a gallon of gatorade? I settled on 1.5 liters of mango juice, which I now have strong reason to believe is a laxative.
Its fair to say I was relieved upon reaching the ridgeline and seeing Falling Water Valley below us; the other's might just have felt the same way. I was tired enough I opted to slide slip down rather than bothering with anything as exhausting as turning.
Hey Mike, its only 9 PM, we are gonna make it out before it gets dark!
What's next? Billy Finley is suggesting a Raina -> X -> Rumble Couloir super tour. Maybe next weekend.