Forums Trip Reports 2014 AK Snow Photo Journal
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  • #580271
    snowsavage
    312 Posts

    Following my tradition of posting a seasonal AK photo journal, I had intended to post this way back in May. I got sidetracked and fell into intense busyness for many months. So now I am trying to get back into the loop and throw up a couple of TR’s. Picking up where I left off, this AK 2014 snow slideshow will be the first installment.

    Before I start I just want to say that I am really impressed by so many of the TRs people have been posting over the last few seasons, especially 2013/2014. The level has been amped so much since I put up my first photos on splitboard.com in 2008.

    This here is more of a look at beautiful big terrain than at riding. Good pics of lines for people seeking AK beta mostly, but hang on, there is a line or two ridden here worth scrolling through for.

    These were my first turns of the season last year. November 2013 at Hatchers Pass, photo by Jed Workman. I love the links and the light.

    Thanksgiving week 2013 was all-time at Hatchers Pass. As good as it gets. We were skiing everything in stable, deep, dry snow. I didn’t bring my camera because it was only Thanksgiving. But it was damn good for a few days. After that AK went to shit for almost 3 months. Seriously, persistently the worst snow conditions I have seen anywhere I have lived in my 25 years of snowboarding.

    We tried to make the most of it. On a gamble, Andy P and I found a pow stash in the Front Range on Black Tail Ptarmigan Peak. Here’s some tracks.

    In this pic you can see that everything is totally wind hammered, but we found that nice soft snow on that unique face there in the middle of the photo. My tracks are slightly visible here in that sliver of sun off the summit.

    Andy P booting out of the Ptarmigan Valley. Why even skin when the snow is exactly as hard as concrete?

    Oh, before I move on, here is a nice view of the Eagle Glacier from the summit of Black Tail Ptarmigan.

    At this point I was getting calls from D-Green trying to recruit me on a trip somewhere else to find snow. He was throwing out ideas for Japan or Canada. I couldn’t rally. I had already committed to visiting family in Idaho. But I found myself scoring tons of great snow in the forests there. Plus down in the states they have this bright, powerful sun which is quite welcoming to a northerner.

    I made a bunch of laps through fun spruce forest and I was noticing all these big tracts of burnt forest around me. I really wanted to make turns in the burnt forest. I love tree skiing and have been lucky to experience it in many of earth’s varieties, but I have never made turns in the burned out woods. And thus I found myself on mission to get to this mountain:

    It was sort of a XC haul to get there but I made it happen and it was beautiful.



    After the burnt forest session I dropped into some epic hot springs for a soak.


    Sun, powder, cool forests, and hot springs. I’m glad I brought my split gear to Idaho, for sure.

    Now back to AK, where things were starting to pick up again at Hatchers.

    Zach Clanton took this cool shadow cornice photo of me on Pinnacle Peak.

    Former Tahonian, Chris Hickman, gets some in the Talkeetnas. I used to ride with this guy at Alpine Meadows back in the 90’s.

    I turned my camera on just in time to capture Ben Reynolds submarining and pillow dropping on this Hatchers spine.



    We had a bunch of great days on this mountain last year: the Granite Mountain playground.

    Savage and Andy P skinning along the ridge top of Granite Mountain. Photo by Ben Reynolds.

    Denali views are often had when dropping in from this spot.

    Andy P getting some on Granite.

    Ben Reynolds comes off the Gold Spine and sends the Skinny Exit.



    Conditions got good at Turnagain Pass for a bit too. Good enough that Ben Reynolds, Mike Mackaluso, and I found ourselves on top of Kickstep Mountain.

    A view of Pastoral Peak and Silvertip Peak from the summit of Kickstep.

    Mike Mack on the summit of Kickstep.

    Carpathian, from the summit of Kickstep.


    An intimidated Savage dropping in off the summit of Kickstep.

    Safely down from our descent of Kickstep looking back up at tracks. We didn’t take many photos on the way down.

    On the way out that evening I snapped a nice photo of the north face of Silvertip Peak and the scary route that D-Green and I skied the previous winter.

    Here’s a view of the Skookum Glacier and Carpathian from the summit of Wolverine Peak.

    And more views from Wolverine.



    The south face of Wolverine was melted out pretty good but we scored perfect snow on the direct west route. Here Andy P drops into the west face of Wolverine.

    Mike Mack busted out skiers right on the west face and got some.





    The snow was looking pretty good on Wolverine Bowl too, so the next day I ditched work early and headed up there. Here is another view of the Skookum and Carpathian, as seen from the top of Wolverine Bowl.

    Here are some more views of mountains from Wolverine Bowl.





    On the way out I got this nice photo of the north face of TC Proper, which I have been lucky to ride three different routes on (beta photo for those in need).

    I got back to the office and the boss informed me there was a job which needed my attention in Haines, so I booked myself on a flight to Southeast, not forgetting to pack my split gear…

    When work did not require my attention, I did some big 5,000 ft. ascents into the high country from sea level. Excellent times.




    There was all kinds of good snow in the protected areas at Haines and even some great tree skiing. Here are some views of terrain in the Haines area (big splitter couloirs???).








    Back up north, Hatchers was continuing to have its moments. Ben Reynolds captured me on this spine in the Rae Wallace zone.

    Hickman kept getting it.

    Zach Klanton snatched my camera and took this sweet shot of Wasatch Brad booting a granite walled couly.

    Klanton also took this photo of me floating on crystals in glorious spring sunlight.

    ….and Andy P took full advantage of any pow he could scrape up in the Talkeetnas…



    With spring settling in and the snow season turning, it was time to focus attention on bigger lines. A week prior, Ben Reynolds got burly and soloed this world class couloir on the north face of West Twin Peak.

    The line had all the things I once dreamed about during my couloir obsessed High Sierra days; big, long, steep, twisty, and tight. It was truly of world class proportion. After Ben showed us what was possible, Hickman and I were on the prowl, booting up the south face going for a gambling blind descent of the route (which the two of us old Alpine locs decided to name for ourselves “Munckins on Steroids”).

    Hickman high above Eklutna, about half way up the south side of West Twin, with Bold Peak in the background.

    Eklutna Lake, Bold Peak, and Bashful Peak viewed from near the summit of West Twin Peak.

    H-man getting down and dirty in the North Couloir, West Twin.




    Reynolds rode this line in full pow and made it seem like no big deal. But for us it was pretty scratchy. It was a demanding descent with little room for error. Pinballing down this route is not an option. It is such a cool line though: long, sustained, and twisty – certainly a world class couloir in all proportions. Here is H-man looking back up at his line.


    We exited the route with less than an hour before dark. Our original plan was to exit via Goat Rock/MIA/POW pass but after skinning up there we would have been on top of an alpine ridge in total dark so me made a sketchy decision, based on the fact that we would be traveling downhill rather than up, and elected to take Ben’s route and descend from the moraine into the nightime boreal jungle bushwack abyss. First we had to boot a short ways up to the top of the moraine.

    We scored another 1500 vert of decent corn turns off the moraine into the setting sun. Then it was Vietnam time. Let’s just call it the Utlimate Schwack. Alders, devils club, deadfall, alders, devils club, deadfall, alders, devils club, deadfall and so on, with one headlamp and Hickman falling into total Bearanoia. It felt like ages, but eventually we did pop out on the Old Glenn, unscathed but for knuckles full of devils club thorns. Mucho thanks to Andy P for coming to pick us up and dropping us back off at Eklutna Lake. Now that’s what I call a good spring splitboard mountaineering adventure.

    A couple of days later, with Front Range corn in great shape, I motivated Hickman to head out again. This time it was for a much mellower hike and shred on Kanoya Peak.


    H-man drops into brilliant corn, high above the “The New SLC”.






    Killer run on killer snow. Now time to walk home.

    H-man became quite concerned that this moose was going to trample him.

    I don’t think that moose was too concerned about a couple of snowboarders passing through.

    A few days later Andy P and I headed back up for lap on Kanshee Peak.


    Next up for me was a couple of summits I had been eyeing a bit further north. The first being this big ramp off Vista Peak that has had me intrigued for the last few years.

    After work, I dry climbed up to Mile High Pass and the line was looking primo.

    I rode a bit of good dry snow off a north flank of Mount Majestic into Meadow Creek and skinned up valley for the climb. Here’s a look at the ramp from the top. A great big long corn run and happy to have checked it out.

    A few days later I went further up Meadow Creek and climbed up to the top of Mile High Peak to score more Chugach corn.

    From up there I got a nice view of the north couloirs on Raina.

    Mile High provided a big long beautiful spring run into the sunset. Here is a series of photos looking back at my tracks on my way out Meadow Creek.





    Here is Vista (summit barely visible on the left) and Mile High (on the right) as seen from Meadow Creek.

    Ascending back to Mile High Pass I got one last photo of my turns down Mile High and then it was lights out as the sun dropped for the dry hike out.


    The season was really winding down. Snow was getting too soft. Still, Andy P motivated me for a last mission to the north couloirs on Raina in early June.


    I’ll keep this couloir secret for now, until I ride it…..

    Not much corn on north. Cold and scratchy. Andy drops in to check things out.

    A little ways down and he’s into totally protected dry north facing powder snow. Quite a nice June surprise, no doubt.

    The lower section of the couloir and the apron went to full corn and we sent it out the canyon all the way to the grass.



    There, with glorious views of Eagle and Polar Bear peaks, we reminisced on another awesome season of snowboarding in Alaska.


    Onward to winter 14-15 :rock:

    #678152
    Jefe009
    675 Posts

    Wow, nice. I know you guys had kind of a shit start to your season, but where there’s a will there’s a way, obviously. Nicely done.

    www.splitlife.net

    #678153
    nickstayner
    700 Posts

    “The new SLC”- good one!

    Always enjoy your TRs immensely. Thanks for taking the time to put it out there!

    #678154
    SPLITRIPPIN
    709 Posts

    A cup of coffee and a JVL AK TR…..A great way to start the day.

    Nice work as usual brother ….. Are you rockin’ a Rossi split these days?

    #678155
    Taylor
    791 Posts

    Thanks for sharing. Major league stoke-inducing post. Perfect for fall.

    This:

    @sun_rocket

    #678156
    Skijor AK
    33 Posts

    I was at Hatchers on Thanksgiving too! It was probably the best day I have ever had in the snow.

    Hit me up if you want to go out this winter! I am in Anchorage but usually have Friday – Sunday free. If the front range gets some snow I would love some night/after work laps too!

    #678157
    wasatch surf
    979 Posts

    well fuck…
    splitboard fever hadn’t really hit me until now. Unreal. Those couloirs :drool: :drool: :drool:

    Great stuff as usual.

    #678158
    snowsavage
    312 Posts

    Cool Wasatch Surf, that’s the point of my timing..to get people fired up for the new season. And AK definitely isn’t only about flutes and spines, it’s also all about tons of badass big couloirs too! Yep, that cool mountain is basic mainstream backcountry in Haines Taylor, what a gem. Ron, I got hooked up that XV split but am really not digging it….way shitty on hard snow is my synopsis…got a new hook up for 2015 so am switching out to something better. Yes sir, “The New SLC” is right; urban backcountry is getting tracked out as fast as the Cottonwoods. Its what happens when someone puts a city and an internet connection next to mountains with powder. And I dont mean to say I think thats a good thing. Jefe, as bad as out winter was, I still scored all kinds of ridiculous good turns….not sure whats gonna happen this year, so far its just cold with a dusting of feathers.

    #678159
    snowsavage
    312 Posts

    :mrgreen:

    #678160
    Ak_Pride
    20 Posts

    Nice dude! Some sweet pictures in there. As bad of a season as it was we still had some pretty good days in there. November and March was pretty much the season. The forecast is looking promising! I’m done for the winter now and ready to shred. Hit me up some time lost your number. Oh yeah this is Brian. peace.

    #678161
    Rico in AZ
    559 Posts

    Having gotten my toes wet in AK this year, I have to say, this stuff you go tackle is really impressive.
    And really humbling. :bow:

    Killer photo journal.

    #678151
    snowsavage
    312 Posts

    Brian, thanks for checking this out. I am stoked you looked at my pics. Yep, nothing left to do now but ride. Like you I am also just posted up waiting for a few good storms. I’ll text you my #.

    Glad you made it up to AK Rico and thanks for the props. Glad you enjoyed going through the photos. Hit me up if you head north again someday.

    #678162
    saign
    330 Posts

    Rad! :headbang:

    I always look forward to your reports!

    I’m putting together a trip to either Haines, or something out of the “the new SLC” to do some glacier camping and touring. Would you mind if I hit you up sometime to pick your brain for beta?

    Thanks again for the stoke

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