Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Cornbiscuit Ski - 11.14.2015

Updated 1.14.2019 to include another great day on Cornbiscuit.

After spending 14 hours on a plane, and the previous week in the desert, we landed in Anchorage on Friday morning.

Digging into the weather history, one thing was clear: winds had scoured Turnagain Pass. Gap winds, outflow winds, storm winds, from the north, east, and west.
Saturday morning, looking for protected terrain, we worked our way back into the valley.

Starting to figure out the snowpack, Zack picked a zipper chute for the second run.

As the afternoon light turned the snow to a beautiful soft pink we headed for a west facing bowl.


Icing on the cake at the end of the day:

Sunday morning and time for more:

Driving up the pass, we grudgingly watched the balmy 18 degree temperatures take a nose dive.

Which was enhanced by a shady skin.

But, nothing a boot pack can't fix!

The sun made the top feel oh so warm.

Owen hiked higher up the ridge to drop.

I love touring with Owen, the dude rips and can go forever. Plus, he brings back fond memories of a great day above Eagle River.

One couloir down, and it was time for a second.

Again the top felt almost hot. I think our brains may have been frozen, looking at the weather station data later, it was about 4 degrees up there.

The second run had slid at some point and was boney.

But, the crew made it look good.

Back at the car it was -4 degrees. Brrrrr.

After a period of cold and quiet weather in Southcentral AK, Nyssa and I headed south to check out Turnagain. Distracted by beach time and steep lines at Hatcher, neither of us had been there recently and didn't know what to expect. We chased the tracks of snowshoe hares and wayward slowboarders through the underbrush and popped out into the midwinter light of the Cornbiscuit ridge. In comparison to two weeks of negative temps, 10 degrees was tropical. First we dropped into Corner Pocket, barely crossing a track.

Then, somehow, I got convinced to ski in the sun. Skiing south towards Bertha Creek, we couldn't believe how blower it was. With each turn the light wind whipped the snow into the air, leaving a trail of cold smoke behind.

Skinning in the sun was maybe even better than skiing in it. I could get used to that. Across the sea of valley clouds were the found memories of a good (and cold) day on TT43.

One lap of glorious sunshine down and all we wanted was more of the same. So, we moved over to the next rib. Again, we didn't cross a track. I still couldn't get over the snow quality. Past Nyssa is the huge wall of Granddaddy, lots of nice ways to link up that one.

In the fading evening light it was time to enact Dave Bass's 30 minute lap rule and rally up the skinner. Along the way we brainstormed how to paint a wall in my house with alpenglow.

From the top of Superbowl we watched a beautiful purple sunset over the Chugach, enjoyed a few minutes of "being" instead of "doing", then dropped into thousands of feet of untracked snow, pea soup, and alders back to the car.

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