Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Delia Peak - 4.1.2018

2018 was a Hatcher year. It was stable, deep, and soft, and we had a great time exploring new zones, revisiting old ones, and linking up favorites. With a fat snowpack down low, the Mint Valley alder jungle was buried, and we focused on Arcose Ridge. After years of staring at Delia Peak from Rae Wallace, Sidney Creek, and, well, everywhere else it was time to check it off.

As we climbed out of the cold inversion of the valley bottom and into the sunshine of the basin Alex, Charlie, Josh, and Zack raced for the chance to break trail.

The peloton of skinny fast dudes quickly had us on top of Arcose Ridge from where we looked behind us into the heart of the Mint Valley. We'd ski Montana Peak a week later. I'm dreaming about another window to get more of those.

We followed the wide ridge east to the summit of Delia. At the high point we could look straight at the twin peaks of Souvenir and the west bowl they guard. I remembered lying on Souvenir's overhung summit, looking 500 feet straight down, and feeling the tickle in my grundel.

To the west we could almost touch the complex north face of Peak 5100. I want to rip this face on a deep day and fall off a few of its cliffs.

Zack volunteered to guinea pig the snow conditions and dropped off the peak into our first lap. We listened to the scraping of dust on crust and turned around and skied the other way. Thanks Zack!


After finding better snow in a protected bowl we located Zack and used a sled track as a staircase back to the ridge.

This time we turned west at the ridge and climbed towards Peak 5100. Across the way were our tracks on Delia.

We peered into the sheltered north face and argued about who should go first.

Charlie was happy to be the test dummy and dropped into a sunny fin of perfect snow:

Protected from the sun and wind, the gut was classic Hatcher Pass square pow. Yummy.

Sandwiched between our last two runs, we drooled over the lines, and brainstormed where to go next. That morning we'd passed a beautiful little chute off of the shoulder of Delia, and decided to go for that. Josh in route to the third lap with our warm-up above him:

Farther from the winds of the Matanuska Valley and hidden from the sun, we found even deeper snow. I looked down from a perch of crisp maroon-colored tundra as Charlie skied out of sight. How did he finagle going first again?


One of the nice things about skiing with Josh is his eye for wildlife. Like this humpback whale, not every day you see a cetacean in the Talkeetnas:

Graphic design: Josh Gray

Done with the whale's tail we were hungry for more powder and skinned up the sub-ridge of Peak 5100 and in the general direction of the car. Zack has been stealing his wife's clothes for years. His mother-in-law caught on and started buying Zack his own matching set. Like this stunning rhododendron piece. Behind the flowers is the west face of 5100 hiding a couple of choice chutes.

At the ridge no one knew what was below us, but it seemed likely we were on top of large cliffs.

Charlie is an optimist and after sprinkling a healthy dose of fairy dust off the edge he skied into the cliffs.

Fortunately, when you believe things will it work out then they usually do - and there was a way through the cliffs. Energized by the fourth lap it only made sense to do a fifth one on the way home, so we skinned up and before long were standing 2,000 feet above the Little Su. Offset from the Hatcher Pass Front, we had a great panoramic view of the Arcose Ridge and our first four laps:

Looking left and east was Arcose Peak and the stacked terrain of Lone Tree Gulch. Lots to explore there, maybe 2020 will be a Hatcher season?

There was some disagreement about whether we were again standing over large cliffs. Whatever, memories are never made when things going smoothly. So, we dropped into the 2,000 feet towards the valley floor. Alex:

Halfway down the face rolled over and there were indeed large cliffs. We sidestepped around, scraped over, and stemmed down the precipice to the alder spines below and the parking lot beers beyond.

1 comment: