Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Snowbird Hut - March 2014

People talk about what it takes to survive winter in Alaska. Its seems like a ridiculous statement, it's so awesome here, but at some level its true. To grossly simplify, there's really only two reasons to be here: you're family is here or you want to experience Alaska. To maximize the experience and minimize cabin fever you need to be flexible.

February had some great days: Tincan, Seattle Ridge, and Falls Creek.

Skinning out Archangel Valley with Snowbird Valley front and center.

Then it rained. Hatcher, Turnagain, the Front Range, Cordova, probably Valdez too. Most people had given up on skiing, and we knew we needed to get above the rain line.

As we turned into the Snowbird Valley I couldn't stop looking at this complex, big, and gorgeous face above Reed Lakes.

The Snowbird Valley has promising terrain too. These lines would be an easy day, especially with a sled bump. Sadly, they were guarded by a bulletproof raincrust.


A better view of just how bad the snow was on the approach. Yep, rain on snow.


Just as we reached the pass to the Snowbird Glacier the snow started to soften up.

Photo: Toni Godes

After a silly traverse and one last short climb up the lateral moraine of the glacier we were at the hut. As you can see, the hut is flooded with southern light and great views of the plethora of surrounding lines.

Photo: Toni Godes

That evening we settled into the hut, plotting what we'd ski the next day.

Last light. If you look closely you can see Corky's skin track up there.

After an evening spent talking all things skiing, the next morning dawned cloudless and wonderful.


Toni stoked for a perfect day.


Our bellies filled with just enough bacon, we set out. Toni and Rachel passing the nunatak:

Technically, this isn't actually a nunatak anymore as I don't think the glacier still flows around both sides of it.

First run of the day back down the Snowbird:


One smooth run in the books, we chose a protected north facing chute for our second lap.


Then headed across the glacier to the sunny side.


And another fun chute.


As the girls got ready, I booted to a cliff farther up the ridge . If you look closely, Sydney Creek, Government Peak, and Bear Valley are visible in the upper left.


I dropped first, then watched the girls rip their chute.


Rachel charging:


Corky and Lars picked another chute in the area:


With three smooth runs completed, and the prospect of a harrowing ski back down the raincrust, we packed up and pointed our skis back towards town.

At first the departure went smoothly, with some great south facing corn skiing.


Then it quickly deteriorated into a nightmare. There's really nothing like skiing impenetrable raincrust while wearing a big backpack. Doing it without edges was the icing on the cake. However, despite truly soul wrenching alder and stream skiing, we made it back to the car.

So many lines in the area. I'd love to go back when the snow is a bit better, or do the Bomber Traverse between the Mint, Bomber, and Snowbird Huts!