Wednesday, September 25, 2019

East Killiak Peak Ski - 3.26.2019

After an extended period of stormy weather, we were looking for a "moderate" objective to get our noses into the snowpack. After some back and forth about what moderate means, we settled on East Killiak. Like so many other memories, the day started on Prudhoe Bay Road.

We hiked up the access trail, switched to skins, and were soon following the familiar route up the Ram Glacier. On the way, we passed under the sharkey north face of Cumulus and the stacked massif of Raina:

Under the huge amphitheater at the top of the glacier we curved left to Bombardment Pass. Hard to think of other lines that pair as nicely as Korohusk's dogleg and pinner.

The descent from Bombardment Pass is straightforward, but we managed a confused route down loose moraine covered in a dusting of snow and seeps of water ice. Tumbling down scree makes for stronger memories. Peters Peak:

At the bench above Peters Creek we turned right and traversed towards the Killiaks. Soon we were back in the shade and skinning across old moraines and onto the dying glacier. We followed the old ice into the gorge it had carved.

In the abyss between the two peaks we turned left, put our skis on our packs, and booted the access couloir to the summit block. 500 feet of climbing brought us to the choke.

Stemming through the hourglass of rock and back to the snow was fun; with a bit more work were were on the Raisin Glacier. Perched between East Killiak and Icicle, "Raisin" is an appropriate name for the little nugget of ice.

Along with the Raisin came awesome views of the High Chugach. Connor drooling over Benign and its rarely skied Malignant Gully:

One more of the Malignant. What a king line. Behind it is Bold, also a great ski.

And behind Bold is the mound of ice and crevasses that is Marcus Baker. That is not a great ski.

Moving our eyes five degrees, we were looking at Bashful and Belligerent. Two more big, bad mountains with rarely touched north faces. Compared to those two, Peters Peak looked more like a molehill. Its spiny southwest face sure looks like good skiing; maybe someday the stability stars will align for a midwinter ski of that.

The mellow ice of the Raisin grew steeper as we booted to the summit. From the top I looked down from the overhung perch on Connor and Jordan:

Lounging on the summit, we soaked in the sun of the perfect spring day. In every direction we looked at memories past and those yet to be made. West Killiak with Mount Pleasant peeking out behind it. Rumor has it that there's a skiable line off the top of West Killiak.

And then there was Yukla. My celebrity crush, and yet another one on the hit list.

Yukla's summit block:

Of course Yukla isn't the only gem of Icicle Creek. There's also Soggy:

Beyond Icicle Creek were more gems, like the White Lice Couloir:

And more memories; like Upper Ship Creek, which makes for a perfect weekend backpack from Girdwood to Anchorage. Crow to Glen Alps is just one of the fun weekend point-to-points in the area - there's also RondyBird and Eagle River to Eklutna.

Rising above Ship Creek was Bird Peak. Perhaps my all-time favorite Southcentral ski. Well, there are a lot of all-time favorites.

Like Rumble:

Eagle Peak is definitely a favorite too:

Speaking of Eagle, Polar Bear and Organ remain on the hit-list. Its nice to have an endless list to look forward to.

Refueled on pizza and Oreos everyone was stoked to drop the steep summit snowfield. The settled pow was surfy and consistent with enough slough to be fun; pretty incredible winter conditions for 7,000 feet in the Chugach!

We worked our way past the ice bulge, survived the wrinkled sastrugi of the Raisin, and skied into the exit couloir.

Tight jump turns down constricting styrofoam snow towards the choke was cool variety from the wide upper face. At the choke most of us took off our skis, but Connor managed to worm his way thru with his snowboard on. Wow, Jedi mind tricks, maybe I should take up snowboarding?

Past the choke the chute opened back up, and we skied under crumbling rock towers into the dark chasm.


Once done with the steep terrain of the couloir, we party skied down the mellow glacier under West Killiak. Its couloirs sure are dreamy.

At the rollover out of the hanging valley we took a hard left and hugged the bottom of cliff face. Following a discontinuous sheep trail, this worked great, and we were soon plodding towards Bombardment Pass.

The climb was a bit of a slog, but there were pizza leftovers to look forward to at the top. I think Jordan was particularly thankful for the calories. Rather than skiing from the pass proper, we climbed right to a short chute to the Ram Glacier for a bonus lap of overcooked powder.

Then there was the usual Ram Valley egress hopping over exposed rocks, scratching over hidden sharks, and skiing thru ice arches. It seems unlikely that the arch will survive the scorching summer, nice to say goodbye.

12 hours after leaving the parking lot, we were done skiing across blueberries bushes, and were trading boots for flip flops back at the car.

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