Sunday, March 1, 2020

Tanaina - 2.15.2020

Filled with so many glorious powder days this year has been incredible, but its been a little low on the satisfaction of slogging. By the middle of February we were starting to feel the itch for the long days, tired legs, and adventure of objective skiing.

Per usual, little beta existed about conditions in the Front Range, but I suspected that the inset couloirs of the zone were filling with stable snow. The weekend started with the old faithful of Front Range coolies, and with a good day there, we knew it was time to head deeper.

Rolling into the Dome parking lot at 9:00 on Saturday morning, Nyssa's car was already covered in a dusting of new snow. It wasn't until Tikishla Pass that we caught them.


Peering over the edge of the pass, I immediately thought: "this is stupid, I'm going home". Everyone else felt about the same. Below us was the classic shallow continental setup of windslab over depth hoar. However, with some creative discussion we agreed to avoid the slab by ice skating down the wind-scoured scree next to the face. Perfect.

We slid down the loose rock into the fog below. As the slope angle slacked off we ventured onto the snow and were immediately greeted by a giant whompf. Yep, glad we avoided the steeper snow!


In the dense fog of the Snowhawk Valley it was tricky telling which way was up, let alone where to go. Needless to say I've gone in much straighter lines.


With the help of our phones and a little back and forth we eventually found the mouth of the line and started booting up the untouched powder.


Inside the walls of the rocky cleft, the snow was untouched by the wind that's been busy blowing our snow to Kansas. We were in for a treat.


The booter was that perfect hero snow where its deep enough to be a challenge, but not quite unsupportable or bottomless wallowing. Julie peeking around Eric makes this my fav pic from the day:


On the ridge we found the sun, which almost made the 5 degree temps feel warm.


Soaking in the midwinter light, we followed the ridge east to the summit. North of us were so many fun memories like PeekingBold, and a great early-season ski on Raina with Eric.


Just past those were more fond days on Pleasant, Korohusk, and Rumble. The Malignant Couloir is sticking out too; I'm still waiting to add that to the memory bank.


To the east of Ram Valley and Peters Creek were the giants of Icicle Creek. We got East Killiak last March; like so many peaks the others are on the five-year hit list.


We lounged in the icy sun until we were shivering, then dropped into the abyss.


With a big group, lots of slough, and a tight line we each skied non-stop from top to bottom; a real treat from the usual leap frogging of the backcountry.


The snow was better than we could have hoped for in the wind-savaged wasteland of the Front Range: hoots, hollers, and giggles bounced off the dark walls of the vertical amphitheater.


Julie:


Skiing the soft and mellow apron to the valley floor was a party. The fog had finally lifted and we could see our spazzy skinner thru the morning's pea soup.


Retracing our steps, we were soon climbing the BS ball bearing scree of Tikishla Pass that we'd boot skied down a few hours before. At the pass we looked down towards the sea of clouds over Anchorage. So nice to get above that gloom!


Then it was simply a matter of navigating five miles of hippy turns, alders, and rock sharks back to the car.

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