Rock Skiing the Chugach

1 11 2012

With no new snow and seriously early skiing conditions I’m not sure why we skied anywhere but on a glacier. But the temptation of skiing a new area, not easily accessed later in the winter got my attention. We headed to Hope last Saturday to ski a couloir some friends in the group had¬†skied after the first decent dump of snow, it also had a base from snow that never melted from the previous winter. We skinned/hiked/booted 3-4 miles in and up to 4500 ft. to access the run.

Mave topping out a steep section.

Mike, Michelle, and Mave booting up to the couloir we were skiing.

Michelle dropping in. The top of the couloir had 3-4 inches on top of wind hammered, hard-as-a-rock snow as a base. Midway down it just had the rock hard snow littered with chocolate chips/rocks. By the time I skied (4) there was very little loose snow. It was survival skiing at it’s best ūüôā Something¬†I really wasn’t¬†geared up for this early in the season….

When we dropped into the bowl there was decent powder, but that was short lived, moving onto barely covered tundra and rocks. My legs were jelly from survival skiing the couloir.

The gorgeous hike out past kettle lakes and a waterfall. We actually skied some of this, hence the rock skis. After I took a pretty good fall (a rock stopped me in my tracks) I decided to hike the rest of the way. Don’t need any end of season injuries before it even starts!

My new rock skis ūüė¶ Gouged tip to tail. Nothing a little p-tex can’t fix!

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Early Season Skiing at the Jewel

24 10 2012

With blue skies and fresh snow, we decided to ski the Jewel Glacier (an early season gem) along with every other backcountry¬†skier in Southcentral. Holy smokes it was crowded! I would’ve thought the 3.5 mile approach would’ve detered a few peeps….but not so much.

View of the Milk Glacier. Boone ditched us in the parking lot to ski the Milk, and on the lower right of the glacier, you can barely see Boone and his friends skinning up. They made the right decision to avoid the crowds and ski the Milk, they had it all to themselves.

  Boone & his friends skinning up the Milk.

View of Crow Pass and Crystal Lake. Rumor has it 12 people stayed in the cabin at the lake¬†the night before. We saw a bunch more people headed in with big packs on our way out…..glad we did this as a day trip.

Kasey enjoying the fresh pow.

Ryan dropping in on a good line.

Kasey dropping a knee.

Kasey and Ryan headed back on the Crow Pass trail.





Multi-sportin’ it ~ Kayaking & Skiing Blackstone Bay

21 06 2012

We’ve been scheming for years to do a combo kayak/ski trip. This definitely seemed like the year to do it with the colossol amount of snow we still have. And the good news is my ski boots fit perfectly in a 20 liter dry bag in my back hatch!

The crew. Eva, Dan, and Sabrina dorking it up.

We headed out in the rain Friday for what I expected to be another soggy weekend in Prince William Sound. Luckily, I was wrong, and the gloom and doom clouds and rain turned into another amazing (and mostly sunny!) weekend in PWS. ūüôā

Cool ice in front of the Beloit Glacier.

 

Sabrina is all smiles with the change in the weather.

Eva and Dan.

Eva and Dan.

An Extratuff approach.

Sabrina skiing the summer snow, which suprisingly was pretty good.

This was our compromise to getting two pairs of skis on the tandem. We¬† put my skis up front and Sabrina’s skis¬†in the middle. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get her skis on back without¬†them interferring with the rudder. Luckily, it wasn’t too long of a¬†paddle from 17 mile beach to where we skiied.

We lucked out with calm waters in Blackstone. It wasn’t until we got close to Decision Point that we got a little bit of wind, but the waves and chop really picked up. It seemed like waves were coming from about five directions. We camped at Squirrel Cove and the next morning woke up to sunny skies and calm waters in Passage Canal.

Love my view.

¬†On our way back to Whittier, Dan sneaking in a beer while Eva paddles. Pure winning! ūüôā





The Shrode Lake Cabin/Skiing in Prince William Sound

1 05 2012

We are probably the only people to drop a keg into a glide crack ūüôā No worries, it was definitely rescued! The fact that we were bringing three, five gallon kegs (of some of Midnight Sun’s finest), hardly made the fact the that I brought two sets of boxing gloves seem excessive.

Mike, Michelle, and Parker on the boat ride in.

We got dropped off on a beautiful, sunny perfect day in the Sound. I love PWS on a flat calm day! We lucked out and saw a young humpback whale on the way. We arrived at the put-in (we got dropped off before Three Fingers Cove because it was iced in) to an enormous amount of snow!

The snow towers over Michelle. ¬†Jon (at 6′ 5″) was just able to touch the top of the snowbank from the beach. We’ve had an amazing winter in AK!

Jon and Dan on the ski in. Probably wouldn’t recommend heavy, overloaded sleds. We had an interesting tour in, to say the least,¬†over the hilly terrain. It took us about 4 hours to get to the cabin, what should take an hour-ish. At least we made sure we were properly hydrated first ūüôā

This butterfly kept landing on my skis. Again with the overpacking, I brought xc skis and my AT set-up.

It was hot outside! I’m glad I threw in a tank top and shorts at the last minute. We decided to go for a ski after we dropped our stuff of at the cabin. Boone with Shrode Lake on the right and PWS on the left.

Boone and Michelle checking out options.

Michelle and Mike descending down towards Shrode Lake.

We were told that the people that had the cabin the weekend prior found only the top 18 inches of the hut peaking through the snow. Luckily for us, they dug a burrow down into it.

Czech Yourself and Mammoth Stout-mmmm!

The suprise entertainment I brought-boxing gloves!

¬†Mike skiing above Jack Lake. The conditions were less than stellar. It had rained for the¬†day and a half prior¬†-what a surprise in PWS :), and the snow was saturated. We pointed our skis and barely moved. It felt like skiing with our skins on. But the tour was gorgeous…..

Mike and Michelle touring back across Jack Lake.

Michelle, Mike, and Parker found the perfect way to relax in the evening sun.

Our last day, Dan and I decided to get one last ski after we dropped our gear off at the pick up beach. It turned out to be pretty decent spring corn/slush.

Jon doing his share to lighten the load ūüôā Another glass calm day in PWS.

Michelle and Mike waiting at the pick up beach in style!





Skiing Thompson Pass

29 02 2012

 

With such an epic snow year, Dan, Michelle, and I had to take advantage and head to Thompson Pass/Valdez to ski some of Alaska’s finest. We were stunned at the endless possibilities. Bluebird skies, nice powder (although there was windblown areas too), and pretty stable avy conditions made it to a pretty sweet trip!

Dan skiing Girls Mountain.

 

 

Michelle descending Girls.

 

Dan and Michelle heading up towards Catcher’s Mitt.

Clouds rolled in for a little while on Saturday, producing some cool lighting on the surrounding mountains. Luckily, the clouds headed back out so we could enjoy more blue sky!

 

Michelle on top of Moonlight Basin.

Decending Moonlight Basin.

Temps were around -10F in the morning, rising to the teens by afternoon. Overnight temps called for a wind chill of -30F, we decided to head down the Pass to Valdez to camp. It was just a degree or two below zero there Friday night/Saturday morning. Saturday night was much warmer, 10-15 degrees. Sunday we woke up to 10 inches of fresh, it snowing like a banshee, 8 more predicted for the day, avy and  travel advisories for Thompson Pass.

I’d say there’s a little bit of snow this year in Valdez….Michelle and Dan in front of one of the snowbanks. The snow in Valdez easily reaches the first story roofs, and reminds me of a fortress built with snow walls.





R.I.P. the Lane Glacier

13 10 2011

The Lane glacier is dead. Well, almost. We headed up there last weekend for some early season fresh pow (it used to be THE place to go ski in September.) We figured, certainly a week into October there should be something decent.

Dan, Parker, Cosmo, Chad, and Jon on the hike in.

What we found was the Fast and Slow Lanes no longer connect. The Fast Lane is very short. The boulder field to get there always sucked, now it seems 4x as long as the glacier has receded, and you have to travel up the valley a lot farther to reach skinable/skiable terrain.

A look back partway up the talus field. We used to be able to skin through this area.

Hiking over boulders with 4 inches of snow is always a little challenging-although it’s better than the last time I went 3 years ago and there was 8 inches….although then you could ski all the way down to the boulder field above the Lane hut.

More boulders. Chad and Boone negotiating the endless field of talus with the Fast Lane above them.

We checked out the Fast Lane first. We didn’t end up skiing it-the measly four inches of snow was not bonded at all to the glare ice underneath. Boone, Chad, and Cosmo hiked up and over, meeting the rest of us at the Slow Lane. Dan and I decided not to join them when we saw Cosmo lose his footing and slide halfway down the icefield.

Boone hiking up the Fast Lane.

Chad on the Slow Lane.

Boone.

Boone skiing what he called “loud powder”- four inches of snow on top of glare ice.

Our tracks on what’s left of¬†the Slow Lane.

Boone, Chad, and Cosmo on the trek out.





The Annual June Ski

15 06 2011

I love the June ski. It’s not the longest run, or the best, but¬†it’s the only¬†time I get to ride my bike to a¬†backcountry ski run. It’s always sunny, with spring ski snow that’s somewhere between corn and slush.¬†Every June,¬†Burrell and I hop on our bikes, packs loaded with skis, and ski the gullies in Powerline Pass¬†after work.¬†

Neil and his pup joined us for an after ski beer.

B heading home.








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