Monday, December 14, 2015

Silvertip - 12.13.2015

After a great window of high pressure, last week brought two and a half feet of new snow to the top of Turnagain Pass.

Waking up in the morning dusk, we followed the old mining road up the creek. 

But, the high pressure had a downside, it left a weak surface for the new storm snow to bond to. As it slowly got lighter, we were treated to a view of Twin Peaks:

By the time we reached the upper basin, there was a foot of new snow sitting on a settled base. 

Wanting to take advantage of the new snow, but to avoid the danger associated with a thick slab we headed to the southern end of Turnagain Pass.
Avoiding potential avy danger, we followed the north ridge towards the summit. Andalyn with one of my favorites, TT43.

As storms flow through Portage and turn south towards Turnagain Pass, they drop the majority of their moisture as they rise over the pass. Slightly shadowed by the pass proper, Silvertip would be a good mix between soft and stable.

Following the ridge brought the bite of the cold easterly winds that were ushering in the next storm. Photo: Khalial Withen.

Just short of the summit, the winds became significantly stronger. It really felt like December in Alaska. So, we dropped into the endless east face. Zack went first:


Khalial skiing by braille:


Looking south towards Juneau Creek, funny to think that the Summit Lake zone is just a stone's throw away.

Photo: Khalial Withen

Working our way down, the minimal winter light continued to be...minimal, and the snow just got better. Andalyn:


Out of the punishing winds of the ridge and off the face we stopped for lunch in the huge basin. Between bites of pizza and smoked salmon, Zack and I vehemently defended the benefits to moral fiber of alpine starts.


With the forecast blizzard beginning to move in, it was time for the crew to point our the skis towards home.