Monday, December 28, 2020

Tin Can - 2.8.2014

Note: Updated on 12.28.2020 to include another great day at Tincan Mountain Resort.

The last month here has not been winter as we know it. The forecast has been filled with terms like "atmospheric river", "tropical infusion", and "veritable firehose". Unfortunately this cascade of precipitation fell largely as rain, not snow. Then it got warm. There's been a lot more basketball, running, skating, and hiking than my winter dreams normally consist of.

This weekend we thought we'd go up to the Snowbird Hut for a little adventure, but then Friday the forecast started to look promising for the Kenai. Saturday morning brought 40 cm of snow to Turnagain, calm, and bluebird. How could we resist?

Pulling into the usually swamped parking lot at Tin Can, there appeared to be only a hand full of groups that were not part of the usual avy classes. Awesome. Anchorage had forgotten that it's winter.

Approaching treeline:

At treeline we watched several slides release from remote triggers several hundred meters away.

More signs of instability:

We figured we'd let the other groups play guinea pig and while we started with a lap of blower in the trees.

After sharing several absolutely incredible ginger snaps at the bottom we headed back up. Reaching treeline, no more avalanche activity had occurred up high despite a bit of skier traffic. We weren't going to pass it up. The boys waiting at the top:

Yep, that's good:

Alex likes to go fast. So when things go wrong, such as, perhaps, a lurking raincrust...

...its very exciting to watch.

Malcolm threading the needle between a couple small slabs:

At the bottom of our second lap the secret was starting to get out about the snow. It was time to go higher -  lets go there!

Photo: Robert McNown

Nothing like a fun ridge hike!

Photo: Robert McNown

O yeah that's good.

Photo: Robert McNown

So good, in fact, better get back up there and do it one more time:

With the sun creeping towards the horizon, the shadows getting longer, and a beautiful translucent cloudscape hanging in the valley below it was time for one more skin to the top before a long run back to the car. 5 PM, fresh tracks, and still not down yet:

On Christmas 2020, Nyssa, Brandon, and I returned for new take on the old Can. The day started off with the game of stability versus weather versus conditions versus expectations. With a considerable avalanche forecast and weather uncertainty we first headed for the far end of the pass for a look at Pete's South. From the Johnson Pass parking lot we squinted through the early gray light of midwinter to see that the wet weather had not been as kind to the dry side of Turnagain - the alders were only partially laid down.

We called an audible and turned north for old faithful. Even with our late start the parking lot was nearly deserted - an anomaly this year - and we were breaking trail before reaching treeline.
Photo Brandon Schmidt

There was a wind skin at the bottom of Common Bowl and it was decided to let other Anchoragites guinea pig the grabability of the alpine while we tested the goods descending towards Center Ridge.
Photo Brandon Schmidt

The alder smashage was perfect with just enough left standing to leave well spaced "glade" skiing. Excited for more, Nyssa and Brandon led the charge to put in the skinner back towards Common Bowl. 
Photo Brandon Schmidt

With improving light it was time to work a little higher before dropping towards the creek again.
Photo Brandon Schmidt

After two laps our confidence in stability was starting to improve and we went higher.
Photo Brandon Schmidt

This time we dropped into Hippy Bowl then feasted on the dregs to the valley floor. Nyssa:

Stopping on a fin to regroup, we spied a delicious alder spine tumbling from the summit of Hippy Bowl. We knew where we'd be going next.

An hour later we'd clambered up the knife-edge ridge past Hippy Bowl, pushed off the flat summit, and were ripping towards our spine.
Photo Brandon Schmidt

It was everything we'd hoped for. Staying on top of the rib, our slough drained away on either side.
Photo Brandon Schmidt

Steep, protruding out of the face, and exhilarating, it was the run of the year for me. Down at the creek, all of us were stoked and it wasn't even dark yet, so we had no choice but to head up for one more lap of alder dodging in the fading light. 
Photo Brandon Schmidt

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