Wednesday, May 8, 2019

West Twin - 4.26.2019

Tuesday's powdery adventure on the Ramp had left us hungry to get out for more. But, strong winds and multiple avalanche reports left everyone jumpy about getting into big, exposed terrain. At work on Friday morning we called an audible and headed for the Eklutna Road.

By 2 PM we were out of our work clothes, parked at the likely access point, and wading into the thickets. The bushwhack wasn't bad and within an hour and half we were at the saddle. The Mat Valley spread out below us:


To the south were oh so many past memories and future dreams. East Killiak (which we skied last month), West Killiak, and Yukla. Hopefully we'll get those soon.

Eagle Peak and its hanging snowfield to mondo couloir:


After a quick snack and look-about Connor volunteered to drop first into the bowl. Thanks Connor!


The bowl was amazingly good and barely affected by the recent strong winds. We were all pretty excited for what we'd find in the pencil, and raced after the wolverine tracks up the valley.


The entrance to the couloir was confusing due to various tales of a mandatory downclimb into the main line. Moral of the story is that the main chute did not close out, and taking it from the bottom would have saved us from airing a slippery 10 foot rock wall.


Regardless, the cliff huck went well and we were back to the business of climbing the line. While Scott was doing more than his share of trailbreaking I was developing serious gear envy for his skinny skis and mini skins.


Three and a half hours after starting we crawled out of the shady rock walls and into the sunshine. The true summit was about 100 yards away away along a ridge topped with an overhung and baking cornice. Given recent events none of us felt like rolling the dice on that one.


Looking up the Eklutna valley was awesome. Bold seemed like it was close enough to touch, hopefully I'll get to ski that one again before long. Boisterous is hiding back there too.


Turning 180 degrees from the caked Chugach to the snowless Matsu was an amazing contrast and a view reminiscent of the Pioneer drop-in.


Conscious of the real hazard of slough building up in the long, deep, and tight line, I carefully dropped in. Pulling over every few turns to let the waterfall of snow pass, I worked my way down to a safe spot and waited for the boys.


Connor came ripping down next. Like most big coolies, constant spindrift had left a thin breakable crust in the snow. The kind of thing that hang up skis, but snowboards destroy. I was jealous of how Connor could just blast the crust on his board. Who knows, maybe he'd look like that on skis too.


Scott came next and looked happy to have other tracks to break up the snow for his skinny skis. Now I felt slightly redeemed about lugging up my anchors of skis compared to his feathers.


We worked our way down the snaking line following proper slough management etiquette of 3 turns, duck into safe spot, wait, repeat. Connor demonstrating the proper slough SOP.


The sun was started to hit the walls above, and the snow immediately peeled off, tumbling towards us. We watched it barrel past and pile up in the choke. Everyone was looking forward to being past the crux without getting waterboarded.


At the choke we all said a few Hail Marys then zipped thru before any more slough dragons woke up.


Past the choke was actually really cool with a large rock buttress splitting the line. The boys went right while I went left around the prow.


The Goat Rock couloir had been the second goal of the day, but it was already filled with slide debris, and there was probably more on the way. So, we compromised with a bonus lap in the bowl. After all, the skin track was already in. Scott:


Soul turns.


At this point Scott's skins failed completely. He made a comment about me being a rabbit to chase and told me to go ahead. Back at the top, Eklutna and Peters Creek were bathed in evening light. Rumble is just peeking over the skyline, we skied that a couple years ago; hell of a line! Thunderbird Ridge is in the foreground - a great ridge with an even worse bushwhack. Best done in the dark.


In the soft light we dropped under Goat Rock and into the thin overcooked corn filled with hungry sharks. The goopy snow was actually quite fun and a good lesson on floating over rocks.


Around 2,500 feet we ran out of snow and started the jog to the road. As we crashed through the bushes Scott mentioned the three brown bears he'd seen the other day - it was nice to be finishing our day in the light.


In the parking lot spring was in full effect. Not bad for a Friday evening!

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