Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Penguin - 3.13.2016

Every day hoards of skiers drive past Penguin on their way to Alyeska, Turnagain, and Summit. We usually do too. There are reasons for that. Among others, it lies in the transition zone between the wet and warm coastal climate and the dry and cooler Chugach Front Range climate, it gets hammered by winds blowing both ways through Turnagain arm, and you're looking at an initial elevation gain of over 4,000 vertical feet.

Almost done with that first 4,000 feet.

With the Anchorage Avalanche Center up there the day before, we had the beta we wanted. The views alone were enough of a reason to go. Falls Creek is tucked in there, hiding behind the crew.


Looking northeast into the heart of the Chugach and towards Bird Peak. This one is near the top of Alex's hit list. Mine too.


Penguin Ridge stretching out before us to the east. This is a fun hike: with 10,000 feet of elevation gain and views in every direction its a trip down memory lane of Southcentral adventures.


Alex, Zack, Khalial, and Andalyn stoked to be on top. Hard to say exactly what emotion and/or physical sensation Ethan is experiencing in this picture. I think it looks like a nice one?


Ethan dropped first into the protected north face:


After a couple big days of cautious adventure skiing over scary exposure he was finally able to really open it up.


In a split second he was down the face and into the apron.


The rest of us followed, finding plenty of untracked snow despite Brunton's 10,000 vertical feet of turns the day before.


At the bottom we ripped our skins and were soon back in the sun. Looking southeast towards the Portage and Turnagain Zones. Carpathian centered above it all.


Then we watched from across the way as Ethan put the pedal to the floor. We've had so many great ski days together over the past 10 years, it was a treat to have him up here crushing it. I'm looking forward to when he moves up here.


Alex and Zack went around the corner to check out the steep exposed face in the shade:

Alex approaching the upper choke.

And working his way into the gut of the face. The two had a lot of slough to contend with on this line, it was fun to see them work around their slough and watch it come pouring out the bottom.
 

Then we reaped the rewards of our long initial approach with thousands of feet of powder and sun back down towards the ocean.


Andalyn making perfect turns in perfect snow somewhere on that last long descent: