Powder report for AK thus far is five stars. I have been out several days and each one has been quality. Word is we are looking to get a warmer storm soon, and possibly rain, but I can’t really picture that sitting as am now in a full-scale blizzard with 50mph gusts on an island in the Bering Sea.
In the meantime I’ll post some very pretty photos of a tour I was on three days ago.
I started out in heavy clouds just as the sun was rising. I could see little streaks of blue through the clouds occasionally and since the forecast had called for sun I pushed on up, in hopes that it would burn off. Instead of that I soon found myself ascending above the clouds into a perfect bluebird day in the high country.
As I ascended towards the peak I planned to ride, the visions of riding sparkling dry powder into the depths of the inversion below were spectacular.
I’m heading for the obvious summit center left of photo, taking some time to analyse the face for the choicest line.
It’s damn hard to decide on any one line when everything looks so damn good, but the ascents are big and the daylight is short in these parts this time of the year, so one line on this beauty is all its goanna be today. My idea is to ride from summit and directly along its long skyline type ramp/spine down, down, down into the clouds. I plan to avoid the broken up terrain you can see specifically because of several glide cracks poking about in there. Follow these three photos to get an idea. Pay careful attention to the 3rd one and you’ll see the lower section of the ramp I am talking about riding. You can also see the snow quality pretty well in this photo. This should give you a sense about how stoked I am right now.
Yep, down into those clouds on steep, open champagne power in the Chugach, f**king surreal.
Here’s another quick view; the nice wide ramp I am going to ride all in the sunshine and then some sick fluted terrain in the background beyond.
First I gotta climb to the summit and on the way I get some photos of phenomenal terrain of the future, damn, aint that beautiful.
Now heres a photo taken from the summit looking DOWN into where I am about to drop in, perfect all the way into the clouds below and then beyond.
A look back up after the first section.
And then a pause to look down deeper and assess the situation. Skiers right certainly has its appeal, but I am going to stay slightly left of the little cornice in the photo.
After a couple thousand feet of epic pow turns through very open and moderate terrain, I rest again. Here’s a look back up.
And here’s a look down. The choices here are pretty broad and as long as I keep it fall line I cant really loose, but I really like the looks of that rib that branches off to the right.
Yep, the goods, and four nice airs in a row even. Here’s a first view back up.
And then a more expanded version taken from the valley floor. Now this is a massive mountain with endless possibilities. You can see my line on the lookers right, the upper tracks are slightly visible too. Once I got to the bottom and could see all the other terrain clearly I just want more, more, more!! So friggin much to be had, so much sunshine, such perfect snow, no one else skiing it.
Here’s a series of zoom in’s on the lower portion of my line. You’ll see the sequence of four nice airs in row. Pretty darn fun.
From the valley floor I begin looking for a way through the fluted face on this peak, just another dream I suppose.
After I calmed down and got a sense of the time I realized that my daylight was closing quick and I still needed to skin back up to a lower peak and ride out. After a long post-holing skin ascent I regained my position above the inversion and turned around to see the sun setting on me.
As I neared the top of the next drop in the sun fell behind the distant mountains.
Quite tired, I found my way down, scoring tons more powder turns on the way. I ended up in a long flat valley and skinned back to my truck in the dark.
I called D-Green to let him know how on it was and we made plans to head up to the same zone the following day. The weather was forecasted to be sunny again. We awoke to overcast and heavy clouds and after some discussion decided it was likely not worth it to head above the trees and into the flat light. We settled on going to check out some potential trees runs I had been scoping over the summer.
D-Green ascend through the alders, cottonwoods, and birches above the inlet.
Its only November and down low the snow was sparse but we still scored some amazing turns, ice bergs and all.
Down low it got tight in the trees but open enough some quality tree skiing. Here D-Green finds a pocket.
So that was last weekend and things are off to a good start up north.
Hey thanx everybody for all the awesome comments. I hope you all get a chance to make some turns in AK one day, find your window and make it happen, that’s how I do it.
To answer some of your questions;
BC Rider, thanks for the stoke as well, much appreciated. How could you tell I am rockin’ a new camera? It does take better photos for sure. I have actually never owned a digital camera and still don’t! The first time I ever posted a TR I had borrowed an old crappy one from my bother, which I used for a while. The last 2 are camera’s I have been issued for work that I sneak into the BC. Probably should buy my own someday…
Hike for Turns, on this particular day I started just after dawn, 9:50ish, taking my time on the way up and switching over to bootin it in deep snow on a knife edge for a while, I topped out around 1pm. I was not moving extremely fast at all, taking it chill and there was an existing skin track for most of the vertical gain, making it quite easy. The summit looks to be 4,242 ft. and sea level aint very far away from the start elevation, so maybe I started at around 300-500 ft., not sure (maybe D-Green or Jdoniell knows?). I feel as if I skied at least 3,000 vert downhill, and probably closer to 4,000, not totally sure. I had to travel about a mile in the flats along a creek following the descent. Here I was breaking trail in 1-2 ft. of new snow. At some point I needed to head back up to get back to the road. I ended up setting a steep track in deep snow for around 2 hours and reached a ridge around 3,200-ish ft. at 4:00pm. I got a load more of pow turns in the fading light and came out quite a ways from my vehicle so skinned back in the dark. Right now it gets dark about 4:30. I was at my vehicle around 5:00pm. I suppose I would call this an average day for me up here when I am pass skiing, with easy access. I was not extremely tired or anything but mostly just limited by the light. Honestly, it this was spring and it was light till 9 or 10 pm, I would have went for a second lap on that peak. It would have been a haul, but doable, and the snow, stability, and light were just too darn good to pass up a second run. I don’t really know the miles, maybe 5 or 6 roundtrip. It took me roughly 7 hours. I don’t consider this a very long tour at all. I am certainly down for much bigger days, when the opportunity arises, 14 hours or more if that’s what it takes! I think the biggest day trip I have ever done was not in Alaska, but Wyoming, the Skillet Glacier on Mt. Moran, this was 6 miles flat approach, 6,000 vert ascent, 6,000 vert descent, and six miles of flat touring back to the road. Mt. Shasta is a 7,000ish vert hit, but no approach required. Skied the Cross Couloir on Mt. of The Holy Cross in winter, so skinned in all the way from Minturn, I forgot how many miles that was, but took 3 whole days all-in-all. Ok now I am just ranting on…..hope that helps answer ur question.
Jdoniell, yeah man we’ll have to get out sometime. Is it raining there? Hope not. I am on St. Lawrence at the moment, 50 plus mph winds, blowing snow, and frozen seas. I might have watched you guys on the SB ridge that day, saw three or four people cruising along on skins up there. Looks like fun. I want to hit that prominent north facing couloir off that ridge, I’m sure you know the one. That was one fine Saturday, don’t you think! I’ll be around the weekend after this coming one. Hit me up.
Stuka, you can ride super fun stuff anywhere from 15 minutes from Anchorage to 15 hours drive away from Anchorage with zillions of worldclass skiing all over the place in-between. But, you don’t need to drive more than 1 hour from Anchorage to access big fluted faces and everything else the Chugach has been made famous for. If you head up PM me and I’ll point in you in the right direction.