Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 4:42 am Posts: 319 Location: Girdwood, AK!!!
I probably should be in bed getting ready for tomorrows adventure right now, but I'm just so excited about todays adventure that I just have to let you all know about it NOW. It was a HUGE DAY on a MONSTER LINE with ACTION SHOTS!
So I'll let Snowsavage write a dissertation when he gets a chance (He's good with words) and I'll just put up a photo essay now.
So we're off...
looking to ride Big League, and there she is! (Snowsavage in bottom right corner)
so we're climbing
then a couple "folks" kinda joined us
and 5 hours later we were there, on top!
and looking down
It was somewhat unnerving
but it was GO TIME!
then somehow or another we made it to the base and got a look back up
and then we got the F outta there!
We did do our recon on this before just going for it although the avy report was moderate with pockets of considerable. Ski patrol at Alyeska Resort had put in a bootpack and a couple of tracks on the headwall the day previous which is on the same aspect as Big League, and there was a line or two on Max's too (same aspect as well). I also figured that if patrol opened the headwall today, there would be eyes on us if anything went wrong. They didn't.
I must admit I was sh*tting myself up on top, and dropping in did not help. It was a foot deep of super light dry "hoarfrost" on top of a hard suncrust/ice. It made for really really fast sluff on a super steep slope above a massive cliff wall. It's always fun to pick your line from the bottom and then try and find it from the top. Pretty much impossible! Now where were those cliffs again? Fun stuff.
Then we got home 7.5 to 8 hours later and watched TGRs "Mind The Addiction" circa 2001. Jeremy Nobis is in it riding "our" exact line! (in better/more stable snow conditions via helicopter I might add)... We thought it was kinda funny
_________________ If you had a moderate chance of being shot in a bar, would you go in? -Tom Kimbrough, former Utah forcaster
Yep, this was a kickass day. It’s always nice to get on a big, steep, fluted line in the Chugach. Pics don’t really do it justice. From the approach it looks a lot mellower than it actually is. From the ridge looking into the drop-in it becomes much more intimidating….more on that in a minute….
D-Green on the Approach
D-Green stepped up and led the steepest, most wind-loaded segments of our skin. He was crushing it. We kept it safe, leaving me in a safe zone while he stomped out the track, once he reached a non-exposed area he would motion me along.
We got onto the first ridge and were cruising smooth and easy for a while.
Next we had to ascend this beautiful snowfield (a darn fine looking descent!)
This is when D-Green was greeted by the caretakers of the Chugach wild snow; the North American Mountain Goat (center right above the splitter).
With the Billies chillin in the sun, the dry pow all around, and the views we were pretty much stoked enough, but the real stoke was still yet to come.
As we neared the summit a perfect view of The Shoulder of Death came into our sights, a line made famous by J. Jones about 10-12 years back - Sicknar
And more Chugach godliness…
Now onto the particular line; Direct West Face –Big League. On a recon a few days earlier we narrowed down our options to 3 distinct possibilities: a) the main couloir on the southerly flank, once ridden by Johan Oloffson, and which D-Green had already descended years prior, b) the direct west face and, c) the main spine dividing the direct face from the couloir.
Almost the entire west face is guarded by large cliffs at its exits. The main spine is the steepest terrain on the mountain and requires that one hover on 50+ degree terrain above 100-150 exposure for the duration of the descent. We had identified 2 possible exits for this route, both tight and both with large consequences for failure. Nevertheless we were confident that the route was entirely doable.
The direct west face route is much wider and more forgiving, and while still heavily exposed, provides a much wider exit at its base and thus offers a little more room for error.
As one can see from D-Green’s previously posted (above) self-portrait, which provides a view looking down the main spine, the main spine is a very serious and committing line; fall-line below leads to 100+ foot exposure that you cannot see in the photo (or when dropping in).
When we got a look down into that route we both got the hibee-jeebies. We knew we could tottaly ski that route but we also knew that this particular day was likely not the best day to go for it; buried surface hoar and pockets of Considerable slab danger were lurking and the spine exits had more sun exposure than I was comfortable with. Thus we decided for the middle-range in difficulty route; direct west face.
Here D-Green contemplates our drop in; direct fall-line below him is massive exposure that you cannot see; don’t fall.
We met in a safe zone about ½ down. Comfortable with the snow and the terrain I dropped next. I scored huge! Amazing soft snow on the flutes (sluff management required), and even stepped up to a 25-30 foot air above the exit (you can barely see my take-off and landing in the photo, left on the big bulgy rock band in the middle of the pitch) I landed in soft snow made two turns hit ice and more rock bands and banged hard lookers left to some soft snow outside the sluff debris field. D-Green is seen in the photo dropping in next. Bottom right on the frame you can see fringes of the very large cliffs. Again, pics from this angle don’t do justice to this at all.
D-Green gets some (bottom left frame you can see my fun air tracks)
D-Green on the apron. The Main Spine emerges upper right of frame; exposure below.
Stoked. Main Spine and all its exposure directly above D-Green here. Eventually you have to exit lookers right which is South facing almost; an aspect reported have potentially Considerable danger in the Chugach this week, and also containing a sun-crust. I am stoked on our decision for sure. I’ll go back for the exposed spine someday….maybe…(couloir is also seen farther to the right).
And just as we both got down safe the flat light came in. We rallied before it was too dark to see.
Then the sun came out again.
There you have it: our route and other options all visible; don’t let the angles fool you from this view however.
Wonderful day and the pow continued. The creek run coming out is super fun right now. Here are a few of my turns next to the waterfall.
Now I am sitting in the office and its still blue in the Hills right now. I’ll bet D-Green is slaying something else large today….get it bro.
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:44 am Posts: 197 Location: Vancouver, BC
Nice work dudes, sick line. One thing that has helped us on our adventures this year is VHF radios. It's still tough for the first person, but at least your second person can get a spot from the bottom.