Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Sunburst - 11.2014

Note: Updated on 12.9.2020 to include another great day on Sunburst.

This was not my most productive week at work. After misunderstanding the weather last Sunday, I spent the day under my car and cleaning the house, only to find out that it had been sunny at Turnagain. Determined not to repeat that, I spent the week twitching in my chair, compulsively checking the weather, or staring blankly out the window.

With the forecast for Wednesday looking better and better, Robert and I bailed on work and headed South. The beginning of the day was a comical spiral through alders as neither of us have skied Sunburst when there isn't enough snow to crush the brush.

45 minutes later we had our skins on and were through the stratus. TT43, still hidden in the clouds, is across the way.

The clouds that had dominated the weather at the start of the week began to lift as we climbed towards our first run.

Robert's first turns of the year, lookin' good!

After a leg burner of a run we headed east towards Taylor Pass, thinking maybe we'd check out Pastoral. Looking towards Seattle Ridge from Taylor Pass:

At the pass we realized that our late start and Anchorage's rush hour traffic hadn't done us any favors that morning. Pastoral wasn't going to happen, so we decided to save it for the next day, and went for a second lap on Sunburst. The radness that is Kickstep breaking out of the clouds to the Northeast.

The view from our second line. Front to back: the Library, Eddies, and Wolverine:

Dropping into our second lap:

Robert looking even better on his second run of the year:

Not one to waste vertical.

Better oriented than we'd been in the morning fog, a quick 15 minute walk brought us to the car. Not to say that we didn't have a "we've been here before" moment though.

Now its snowing outside, and I'm hoping winter is here to stay!

Update:
In early December 2020, Nyssa, Neil and I headed south to Sunburst for a classic Turnagain Pass day. Some things have changed since that early season day with Robert years ago. But, others are the same: I still spend my work weeks twitching, compulsively checking the weather, or sometimes staring blankly out the window.

Just like last time, fog forced into the the valley by the inversion of high pressure hung over the pass. We swam blindly thru the soup before popping onto the sunny the ridge.

Photo Nyssa Landres

We followed an impressively steep skin track until we were drooling over 1,500 vertical feet of untracked turns on the wide open south face, then dropped into the fog. The second we slipped into the icy mist we could feel the cold humidity in our bones.

So, we rushed back to the "warmth" of the sun. Basking in the midwinter light we reminisced over our favorite Turnagain lines and others that we have yet to ski. Looking towards the southwest corner of the pass, TT43 rose above the clouds. Its hard to pick a favorite here, but that one is hard to beat. Hopefully next time is a little warmer than last time.

Photo Nyssa Landres

Each lap took us further down the endless ridge; along the way running into our friends, coworkers, and instructors. The sense of community here is hard to beat.

Photo Nyssa Landres

By the end of the five lap my legs were burning and the last sunlight of the day was creeping towards the tips of the peaks. I'd have been happy to call it a day, but Neil and Nyssa weren't going to let us stop until there was no light left, and we had time for one more.

Photo Neil Liotta

The soft pastel light reminded me of a cold and deep Christmas ski with Mary, Andy, Zack, and Josh five years ago. The tour linked Skinny Santa, Fat Santa, and Bad Santa, so we dubbed it the "Santa Tour".

Just like that day five years ago, it was dusk when we got back to the car. And again, such a quintessential midwinter day at Turnagain - skiing soft snow in the soft light of winter above the valley fog.

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