Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bold Peak Ski - 4.17.2018

Like many favorites, the idea to ski the north face of Bold came years ago while daydreaming through Dongshow Productions. It became a game of waiting for weather, stability, and an available partner. With big lines going down all over the Western Chugach, we decided to give it a go.

I've never been on a fatbike before; the crunchy approach across Eklutna Lake was the perfect introduction - thanks for the loaner Schyler! After 5 miles of chasing Jake through my morning haze we parked at the Bold Valley trail and started hiking. An hour later we were in the hanging valley above the lake.

Past Eklutna Lake, Twin Peaks rose sharply into the sky in the vivid morning light.

Dwarfed by the huge north face, we skinned through the rolling moraines left by the receding glacier. I found this perspective to be particularly intimidating, and focused on my feet and the animal tracks around us rather than the behemoth above.

Onto the rock glacier, and about to pass into the shadow of the peak, we stopped for a last taste of sunlight and a snack. Then we were into the shade, strapping our skis to our packs, and falling into the rhythm of the climb.

Feeling the pull to get up the face, the apron and lower chute passed quickly as we booted thru the cold snow. At the dogleg we turn right and traversed over the ledge into the upper chute. It was steep in there, and I was glad to have my ice tools as a mental safety blanket. In the zone, we barely paused, and before we knew it were topping out the summit ridge.

The ridge brought an awesome view of Bashful and its hanging seracs shrouded in clouds from moisture flowing in from the Gulf of Alaska.

The summit ridge was unskiable windswept scree, so leaving our skis, we jogged to the summit. Its funny, each peak provides what is on paper a pretty similar view. But, the slight changes in perspective make each one special. To the north, Marcus Baker was icy as usual. The giant slabs of ice pealing off of the summit plateau are mind boggling. Uncountable snowfall is moved by the those giant rivers of ice.

7,000 feet below, the windswept Knik River valley was already snow free and well on its way to summer.

From our perch we could look past Eklutna Lake, down the canyon, across Cook Inlet, and all the way to the giants of the Alaska Range.

About an inch above my right crampon a kettle is visible from the melting ice of the rock glacier.

The view south towards Peters Creek, Ram Valley, and Falling Water was particularly special. There are so many iconic and memorable ski lines tucked in there.

Like the X Couloirs on Peking...

...the twin pinners on Korohusk, and the king line on the north face of Rumble. From this perspective, its hard to believe there could be a line tucked in.

And, of course, the incredibly aesthetic hanging glacier line on Mount Pleasant.

Towards the Talkeetnas, Pioneer dominated the skyline. Brady, Alex, and I skied its giant north face a few weeks ago. I'd go back for that one in a heart beat.

To the right of that we looked straight up Moose Creek to Montana Peak where we had a great day not too long ago. Moose Creek is a stacked zone, one could spend years exploring it.

Below us, clouds were pouring into the Eklutna Glacier where Robert and Alex were busy chasing wolverines and powder lines. Alex sees a wolverine just about every spring - if you want to see one, just get him to take you skiing.

We refueled on gummy bears and seaweed before the short walk back to the the entrance to the face.

I dropped in first and skied directionally to manage the raging slough dragons racing down the couloir. Pulled off at the upper choke, I watched Jake crank exposed turns down to me.

The dogleg was wild - so steep that our hips would hit the snow on each jump turn. We skied slowly and leapfrogged each other until we reached the lower choke. Traversing through the choke brought us into the lower couloir.

It was nice to no longer be skiing above exposure and the sloughing constraints of the tight upper chute.

Below Jake are the flow lobes of the rock glacier oozing down the valley.

One of my favorite things about huge cold faces like this are the giant piles of slough that stack up in the apron. I turned back up to watch Jake milking our 500 foot long slough cone.

All too soon we were back on the valley floor looking up at the giant face. Its amazing there's a continuous line hidden in it.

Coasting down the hanging valley brought us to the ping pong down the old mining road. And then there was just the spin back across the lake to the truck.

I sure won't forget this one any time soon, and I'd go back in a second. This was a Top Ten kind of day.


  1. I've climbed that face twice, once in August when it was almost water-ice, and once in June when I got to watch my partner fall somewhere around 2000 feet down the thing... I'll tell ya about it someday over a beer.

  2. Looking forward to that beer!