Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Bird Peak - 4.27.2019

We've been dreaming about Bird Peak ever since seeing its iconic west face while ripping pow on Penguin years ago. Since then we've been waiting for conditions, partners, and schedules to line up for that  face:

The west face hasn't lined up for us yet, but in late April of 2019 I was in the midst of a Western Chugach bender and suspected that Bird's north face was in, stable, and powdery. After a great Friday evening on the West Twin Pencil, we were hiking out of the California Creek parking lot by 8:00 the next morning. Within a few miles we hit continuous snow and along with it, continuous bear tracks.

Yogging along the alder tube of a trail on the firm morning snow was fast, and we continued until we found a suitable running-shoe rack.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Cumulus - 4.2.2019

This isn't really a story about skiing Cumulus, its about years of memories of exploring, laughs, and epics in Ram Valley, Falling Water, and Peter's Creek.

The day started with us hiking out of the parking lot in our running shoes. The warm March sun had melted most of the sun from the trail.

The dry trail reminded me of the first time we skied Korohusk five years ago. That day started by jackknifing Tarah's car while Jake and his pack of dogs barked at us from the driveway. Then we followed wolverine tracks up the Ram rock glacier until the dogleg coolie came into view - I couldn't believe it - here's a picture of Cody, Tarah and Max from that day:

Now back to the present - after passing above Cam's cabin we traded running shoes for skis and started skinning up the valley. We had a great day with Cam and company earlier this year linking up the dream line on Pleasant with the Y on Peking.

As soon as we started skinning we started running into the tracks of a momma bear,

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Calliope - 5.12.2019

Calliope is different than many ski mountaineering objectives of the western Chugach. Unlike the deeply incised couloirs that depend on flushing avalanches cycles for stability, its huge hanging face has nowhere to hide and the potential to harbor persistent weak layers. It requires near absolute confidence in stability. So, after a couple weeks of working into bigger terrain with good results it was time to give it a go.

The walk to the Eagle Lake took a bit over an hour and a half; there we turned right and followed the old medial moraine towards Symphony Lake.

Symphony welcomed us with isothermal snow drifts and beaver ponds. Another mile of wading through various forms of muck was plenty and we were both ready to switch to skinning.

I'd never been past Symphony Lake and loved imagining pesky goblins peering around the jumbled spires of the Cantata ridge and the ice bulges of Triangle.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Wedge - 5.8.2019

Yogging out of the Glen Alps parking lot on Wednesday evening my pants seemed to be getting unreasonably wet. Then it started to smell like beer too. I stopped, dug the half spilled beer out of the bottom of my pack, drank it, and continued.

15 minutes later I ran into Maggie who was eating crackers and cheese and watching the ptarmigan/maybe on a Tinder date. The crackers and cheese went nicely with the beer, and after a short chat I was on my way again.

I waded through a few isothermal snowdrifts, found the melted out trail, and continued my yog towards Ship Lake Pass.

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: