Sunday, March 29, 2020

Carpathian - 3.29.2014

Updated 3.29.2020 to include another great day.

Carpathian, the name is filled with intensity and intrigue, but where does it come from? Does it come from the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, perhaps the mythical super humans that inhabit them, or maybe an Indo-European root word for rock? No one seems to know. Regardless, the mysterious power of the name embodies the mountain. Storms pouring into Turnagain Arm from the Prince William Sound pound the mountain with precipitation – rain, snow, ice. The extreme weather and the seracs, avalanches, and glacier hazards that come with it mean that it often takes two, three, even four attempts to get up and down Carpathian.

Back in late March, Malcolm and I decided to check it out. Due to my usual early morning grogginess, the day started out as a bit of a circus. I forgot the appropriate allen key to adjust my crampons for my new boots, and my camera was definitely missing its SD card. But, after a refueling stop for power rings (donuts), we were on our way across Portage Lake. Due to its proximity to the coast, the lake is often a nightmare – a wind tunnel of ice fog and ground blizzards. We got lucky, finding calm wind and fast, firm snow.

Three miles later, our faces covered in a fresh layer of rime, we were across the lake and at the base of the Portage Glacier:

Following the advice of a friend, we continued past the toe of the glacier, then climbed one of the lateral moraines which brought us past the terminal ice fall. As we moved up the Portage more glaciers came spilling down towards us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Anchorage Ski Outlook - 3.25.2020

Thurs – Fri: warm, dry Thurs, small storm Fri (high confidence).
Thursday will be a spring day with gaps winds impacting Turnagain Arm/Portage/Whittier, Seward, and the Tordillos/Neacolas; there will be solar impact on south aspects. Friday will cloud up with the arrival of a small storm; all mountains will see light snow. Insignificant snow accumulation at sea level. Temps trending down.

Weekend: moderate temps, clearing over weekend, windy in Talkeetnas (high confidence).
Trending colder and clearer over the weekend as the Friday night storm clears out. Expect cold mornings and warm afternoons as skies clear. There will be solar impact on south aspects. Sunday will likely be windy in the Talkeetnas.

Early Next Week: moderate temps, dry, winds calming (moderate confidence).
Temps continue to drop into Monday before beginning to rebound. Expect cold mornings and warm afternoons. Monday will likely be windy in the Talkeetnas. There will be solar impact on south aspects. More clouds Tuesday into Wednesday with light snow possible near coast.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Byron Peak - 2.4.2017

Updated 3.21.2020 to include another great day.

Portage is sick: as storms collide with the huge mountains jutting out of the ocean they lift and dump ridiculous amounts of snow. Then, the snow pours back off the peaks as glaciers. The problem with the proximity to the ocean is the wind it often brings.

So, after finding stable, deep, and perfect powder on Wolverine, we knew it was time to focus on the Portage zone.

At the parking lot it was 3 degrees, but by the time we could look back down on the lake we were above the inversion. Once on the glacier we roped up and Alex took the lead as we snaked to the climbers left of the lower icefall. People often approach Bryon by ascending the east ridge from the lake, we decided against this due to obvious wind loading.

Past the severe cracking and associated slow travel, we were able to move faster. Even by early February its crazy how much snow has accumulated around Portage, we crossed snow bridges that were 10 feet thick!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Rae Wallace - 3.18.2016

Updated 3.17.2020 to include another great day.

Friday was Ethan's last day in town, so we wanted to take him somewhere fun. We'd done a lot of great adventuring, and as such were leaning towards a higher ski to bushwhack ratio. Maybe even something without dirt on the approach!

Cody watches Alex wrap up his warm up run.

Though we often ski Rae Wallace on our way thru to Archangel, I've never just spent a day lapping its steep and rocky chutes and spines, but I've always wanted to.

Alex and I spent Thursday chewing on weather forecasts and avalanche data as we decided between another Eagle River adventure and Hatcher. As soon as I dropped into the sheltered north facing terrain I was happy with our decision. Alex was too:

Delia Creek - 3.4.2018

Updated 3.17.2020 to include another great day.

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.