Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gold Pan - 12.5.2015

Alaska is a land of feast or famine. Thanksgiving brought days of rain to most of the Kenai Mountains, while Hatcher remained under mandatory lock-down because of high avalanche danger.

With the sun low in the sky we aimed for the south facing Gold Pan zone.

Fortunately, days of rain at the road mean feet of snow in the alpine. And, all that warm and wet snow can bury, smash, and stick to old, weak layers.

Before the sun had risen above the horizon, Mary dropped into our first line down Magnum.

Heading back up, the sun felt incredible at the Superbowl saddle.

Gold Pan looked every bit as glorious as hoped:


After an excellent scramble down the icy ridge separating Superbowl and Basketball, we dropped into Gold Pan.


The team plans their next immaculate and gut wrenching skin track:

At some point on the way back up, deciding it was impossible to skin thru a cornice, I switched to booting. I soon learned I was wrong,

Back on the top of the zone, and aiming east for a long line down a rib, Kickstep looked dreamy:


Zack dropped first into the perfect light.


Mary:


With light still left, we headed back up our skin track.


And, as the sun disappeared below the mountains, there was just time for one more set of ribs and gullies followed by the bowl below.


Mary:


Starting to lose light, it was time to move towards home. But, Zack pointed out that it wouldn't take much to ski one of the nice chutes off of Cornbiscuit:


Then, he pointed out that it wouldn't take much to ski the north side of Magnum.


So, with darkness definitely arriving we dropped into our sixth lap of the day.


15 minutes later, with the stars twinkling overhead, we were eating blueberry muffins at the car.