Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Cumulus Mountain Ski - 4.2.2019

This isn't really a story about skiing Cumulus, its about years of memories of exploring, laughs, and epics in Ram Valley, Falling Water, and Peter's Creek.

The day started with us hiking out of the parking lot in our running shoes. The warm March sun had melted most of the sun from the trail.

The dry trail reminded me of the first time we skied Korohusk five years ago. That day started by jackknifing Tarah's car while Jake and his pack of dogs barked at us from the driveway. Then we followed wolverine tracks up the Ram rock glacier until the dogleg coolie came into view - I couldn't believe it - here's a picture of Cody, Tarah and Max from that day:

Now back to the present - after passing above Cam's cabin we traded running shoes for skis and started skinning up the valley. We had a great day with Cam and company earlier this year linking up the dream line on Pleasant with the Y on Peking.

As soon as we started skinning we started running into the tracks of a momma bear,

and her little cub:

The pair had been busy climbing up and sliding down the snow as they wandered through the valley.

The bears recalled the time Nick and I had tried to feed LP to a family of brown bears while skiing at Hatcher Pass years ago. That was my first time skiing in Alaska, and I immediately knew that I had to come back.

Once under the shade of Cumulus, we turned right and started booting. Charlie had skied the line back on Thanksgiving when he'd divined that the early season snowpack above Eagle River was fat. Jedi mind tricks right there. A few days later, Eric, Andrew, Elias, and I followed his lead and skied the mongo gully on the south face of Raina.

At the ridgeline we left our skis and jogged up the sun-dried scree to the summit. We ate pizza and marveled that Korohusk could hide two beautiful lines in its vertical north face; those lines have become a go-to over the years. Looking through Bombardment Pass was in itself a trip down memory lane. Bombarbment is the gateway to the Peters Creek giants and a more reasonable way back from Rumble than the route Alex, Andy, and I took.

After dessert Oreos we scampered back down to the drop in. Entering the steep, shaded north face from the gentle, dry south slope was like a cousin of Raina's fat chute. Robert, Owen, Tarah, and I skied that years ago then epiced on the X Couloir a few hours later.

Like usual for Ram, the snow was soft as we skied into the tight and protected walls of the deep couloir.

Looking up as they skied under the sheer rock with slough pouring past made me laugh thinking back to a recent day running from slough dragons and 30 foot tall powder clouds in Ram Valley with Connor, Alex, and Alyse. That was a memorable one.

Back at the valley floor, we started the cruise towards Prudhoe Bay road. We hopped over dwarf willows and dry-skied through blueberry bushes leaving behind long purple stains in the snow. Eventually we ran out of slippery bushes to ski and the dry ground got too sticky to continue. Reminiscing about so many great days, and dreaming of more still to come, we put on our running shoes for the walk back to the car.

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