Suddenly, after days of shoveling 80 inches of new snow in 60 mph winds, the sun poked through the clouds. We called Ben, our pilot, immediately. He was hesitant due to other parties who will often “cry wolf” to try and get rescued. Afraid of getting his big beaver plane stuck in the deep snow with such a short window, he opted to fly a tiny super cub plane to scout it. He flew up the glacier towards the landing strip we had spent days keeping packed out and his touch down spewed huge plumes of snow into the air. Super Cubs only seat one passenger and a little cargo.
Kelly loaded first after my protests to stay with Zach in fear of Ben not being able to make another flight in. As soon as they flew away the clouds rolled back over us and Zach and I prepared for another, who knows how long, stuck on the glacier. An hour later we could hear the buzz of the bush plane coming back in poor visibility. Relieved, we stacked up all our belongings in a pile and left them behind for the next clearing so that no one would be left alone on the glacier. I climbed into the cargo compartment and as we loaded up Ben said, “you don’t really get in a super cub its more like you put a super cub on.”
We flew past the vast crevasse field we may have had to cross if Ben couldn’t have extracted us. As I gazed out the window, the hard shoveling days started to blend together. What stood out were the previous stellar clear days full of climbing and shredding Alaskan spines.
Scoping our zone from on high
finding the light
Zach about to drop into castle spines
Wandering around the south face to get to the goods on the north side. Splitboards are pretty damn cool, thanks Voile!
Gotta get up to get down- After skinning around huge crevasses we opted to climb strait up this slough path. Verts would have come in handy but we employed our best swimming techniques and established this stairway to heaven.
Hell ya! Sun Shine and powder! These are the days, right Kelly?
We built wind walls for protection from the west but when the surprisingly big storm rolled in we had 60 mph winds from the east. We ended up trading the kitchen tent for a snow cave. Our camp spot was in a zone safe from slides but also very flat. We had to dig down, in, and then, up to make a proper shelter. The endless pit of despair was worth keeping dug out for the relief it provided from the relentless storm.
Our walls became to big to throw the snow over. We got up in intervals through out the night to keep our tents from collapsing from snow- 3am- 6am- 11am and then shovel on all day long.
Barried toys – behind the steep slopes don’t build up snow for long. All day and night we would hear/feel the rumble of avalanches. These slides sculpt the spines that Alaska is so famous for.
The “Shit-gloo” – After a couple days of frozen asses we emptied a food crate and used it as a form to make snow blocks and construct this stinky little rose room. Those Hestra mountaineering mitts were key to saving my fingers- just ask my numb toes 🙂
I learned yet again that every thing is bigger in Alaska. Even when the forecast says partly cloudy, scattered showers, it really could mean to batten down the hatches and hold on for dear life. I will forever bring way more food and extra layers then I will truly need. Alaska is a wild place. It once again earned my up most respect and left me craving more. Long live this wild holy mecca of big steep pow!