Friday, March 16, 2018

Delia Creek - 3.4.2018

Despite years of drooling over its faces, bowls, and couloirs guarded by tilted conglomerate walls, I've never skied Arcose Ridge before. With a fat snowpack at Hatcher I was out of excuses about alders, so on a beautiful Sunday we parked in the Gold Mint parking lot to check out Delia Creek.

Ahead of us, the west face of Souvenir and its twin summits were still in the morning shade. I'd really like to ski that one.


Working to stay away from major terrain traps, we contoured east thru the hanging valley, and then onto the ridge above Delia Creek. Behind our skinner is Goodhope Creek and the Snowbird Mine Valley. Goodhope is stacked with couloirs, bowls, and pillows, but is a bit tricky to hit right due to its solar aspect.


It was hard to leave the warmth of the spring sun and drop into the cold shade of Delia Creek. Well, it wasn't that hard.


Schyler spooned my tracks through windows of light on his way to the valley floor.


Not a bad way to start the day.


Stoked to have a valley full of soft snow all to ourselves, we chased fox tracks up the valley. On the south ridge of Delia Creek we were joined by Summit; he was enjoying the sun while his snowboarders spun laps to the south. He also wanted my Gameday Supreme pizza.


Summit's pack has a cool setup: they have an inholding along the Little Susitna River, so are able to bypass the non-motorized corridor and sled-ski on Arcose. On top of Arcose Ridge we looked down on the sea of clouds engulfing Anchorage. Talk about a good day to get out of town!


After eating our pizza and talking with Summit's pack we dropped back towards Delia Creek. The snow got deeper every turn.


Next, we picked a west facing bowl descending through the layers of rock. The rock here reminded me of the cobbles and boulders of the Eska Formation that makes up Castle Mountain and Wishbone Hill.


At the top we got an even better view of Souvenir. Maybe I'll convince Alex and the boys to ski it with me tomorrow. Down below in the Matanuska Valley we could see Wishbone Hill, Buffalo Mine, and the Moose Range; we've had lots of fun looking for grouse there.


Over the Mat Valley rose the giant peaks of the Chugach. Cloudbuster is looking giant (as always) on the left, with Marcus Baker in the distance.


King Mountain and the A Peaks a bit further to the east:


Just like the previous lap, the snow got better and better as we descended the bowl. We hooted and hollered as we party skied the rolling terrain of the valley.


All too soon it was time to skin up one last time. It felt great to be in the warm afternoon sun. I think its possible Schyler got a little warm in his down jacket though.


Gaining the ridge where we had started the day, the big terrain above the hanging valley was coming into the sun. What a rad place.


Back on top of the knob, we skied 1,500' vertical feet of powder back to the car.


I just realized its now been five years since I moved to AK. Hopefully there are some more days on Arcose Ridge in the next 5 years.