Skiing Prince William Sound and the Paulson Bay Cabin

2 04 2013

We arrived in Whittier for our spring ski trip to find that Whittier had officially become a slurpee. From the streets to the water in the boat harbor, everything was slushy with a little bit of snow on top. Thank heaven for Extratuffs! We left later than we had hoped due to gale force winds and high seas (best to let that settle down a bit), but still made it out of Whittier by early afternoon.

Perfect snow for a snowball fight. Eva nailing Dan with a snowball.eva & dan in the harborHard to believe this is saltwater ūüôā It was much more like a margarita-just add tequila! The view right in front of the cabin.The Bay¬†This is what we found upon¬†landing on the beach…we had a little bit of work ahead of us¬†before we could play. The cabin was snowed in on three sides, but luckily the front was an easy dig out. According to the log book, no one had been there all winter and we had a little bit of issues getting the propane stove working properly. Once we got it to fire up, it really cranked! We¬†were super happy on this soggy trip for a good stove.¬†Temps ranged 30-40F, with lots of rain (as should be expected in a rain forest), really wet snow, and one small window of sunshine!stairs

Dan clearing out the top of the stairs.Dan digging out stairs

What kind of backcountry ski trip would it be with out a keg or two of Alaska’s finest? Jon showing us the best way to carry a full keg,¬†something he learned well on our last PWS ski trip.Jon Keg

Ryan skinning through the snowy forest.ryan skinningAfter a snowy night and rainy/foggy morning we were happy to see some high clouds & hints of blue sky.

The beach.the beach¬†Part of a spine and skeleton that washed up during low tide.skeletonWe took advantage of the short window of no rain and the only spot of blue sky/no fog in the area¬†and skinned up to get some skiing in. We found all the steep stuff had slid, and the few areas that hadn’t were pretty¬†suspect.¬†Mostly rolling hills surround the cabin, with any downhill¬†skiing to be had quite a ways away. Great touring though-it’d be the perfect area for a metal edge xc backcountry ski.

We took a modest run (on the left shoulder). It was slow as hell with the super wet, dense snow. Ryan, on his snowboard, didn’t fare as well as the rest of us skiers ūüė¶mountainJon, taking advantage of the warm, dry spell (about 40F). Behind him filled in with fog (earlier we had views of Cochrane Bay.) Soon, all the boys were topless. jon¬†Ryan, Eva, and Dan breaking trail. Setting the skin track was a little bit of work in the super wet & dense snow.skinningJon & Parker with Cochrane Bay behind them.jon and parkerEva helping me grill up the chicken satay. To say the least, we ate pretty well on this trip. Bacon & sauerkraut stuffed reindeer hot links, grilled pineapple wrapped with bacon, and the chicken satay were highlights. I think we all might have actually gained weight on this trip….eva bbqChicken Satay. I was pretty proud of how this turned out, even though it was a little more work than I had planned for a camping trip ūüôā I’ll have to fine-tune the recipe to make it a bit easier in the backcountry. It was super worth it though ūüôāchicken Satay

 

 

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Blue skies, nice Pow….a few recent excursions

21 02 2013

Winter in¬†AK started off slowly…early season conditions and a terrible snowpack plagued us till January. To top it off, I took a bad jump in flat light and injured my foot, so I’ve been on gimp status for most of Jan/Feb ūüė¶

Pre-gimp skiing @ Hatcher’s with Dan.hatchers¬†Eva.eva

 Dan skiing above the clouds on Marmot.dan marmot

skin b & w

blue

Went snowmachining at -13F in Hatcher’s with a fellow gimp,¬†the Pirate, while I was gimpy too. Probably not what the doctor ordered, but I couldn’t resist and the powder was amazing…..IMG_6696pirate small¬†IMG_6872-pirate small¬†IMG_6887-pirate small

I finally made it back to skiing after¬†5 weeks off! Blower snow above 1000 ft. at Pete’s North. It was fabulous-until I fell and re-injured my foot.¬†ūüė¶ Back on gimp status.

Jon getting after it at as the sun¬†just crests Pete’s South.IMG_7227-small





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 at Hatcher’s Pass

14 03 2012

We decided to switch things up a bit and head to Hatcher’s Pass to get some¬†touring in. I usually only head up there early in the¬†season, and was excited to find nice light powder, a few untracked lines,¬†and good stability.

The crew.

Lee getting after it.

Jon making some turns.

Michelle aka Skittles.

Jon on the uptrack.

Kasey and Ryan.

Kasey dropping a knee.

Another beautiful day in the Talkeetnas. One of many spectacular views.

Michelle about to drop in on the sweetest, untracked long line.

Kasey wrapping up a great line and a beautiful weekend.





The Crescent Saddle Cabin Ski Trip

31 01 2012

Our thermometer bottomed out at -25F¬†on the¬†ski¬†in, so lets just say it was colder than that. At 12:30 AM, after 4 hours of skiing by stars-it was so cold¬† our headlamps we nearly useless because our breath clouded the air in front of us-we finally arrived at the Crescent Saddle Cabin. It took us a bit longer than we anticipated since we had to break trail across Carter and Crescent Lakes, unable to find a snowmachine¬†track to follow across the lakes,¬†and we brought heavy loads with¬†a ton of gear for lofty plans that should’ve¬†got axed at the trailhead ūüôā¬†We stayed up till 4:30 AM trying to warm up the cabin, before we crawled into our sleeping bags¬†wearing every layer we had with us. The cabin was 7F degrees next to the wood stove and the walls still frosty.

Everyone’s favorite. Hoarfrost on the toilet.

Feeding the fire all night we managed to get it up to a balmy 27F degrees by the time we dragged ourselves out of bed. Walls still frosty. Dan, Heidi, and I headed out for a tour up the saddle between Crescent and Kenai lakes, continuing on up the mountain on the left, while Lee and Jon stayed behind to cut more (much needed) firewood and keep the fire going. Daytime temps warmed up to  -5F, almost a heat wave!

Dan skinning up.

It was a bluebird day with fresh powder. We had a blast making the only tracks on the mountain!

Heidi skiing.Dan skiing.Heidi making turns.Dan cruising through the trees.

The skiing was amazing! When we arrived back at the cabin Lee and Jon had managed to get the cabin up to a reasonable temperature so our beer could unfreeze ūüôā Actually,¬†by early evening as the temperatures dropped again outside,¬†the cabin¬†was warm enough to layer down to just our long underwear and the walls defrosted. Success!¬†

Lee and Parker headed across Crescent Lake on the way home.

 





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.





Colorado Creek Cabin

26 04 2011

Sometimes, even the best planned trips, don’t go as planned. Six of us were set to spend a four day weekend at the Shrode Lake cabin in Prince William Sound for a weekend of skiing, kayaking, hot tubbing in our portable hot tub, and two kegs of Midnight Sun finest. It’s fair to say we weren’t planning on packing light¬†for this trip, to say the least¬†ūüôā But, at the last minute,¬†gale force winds and 10 ft seas kept us out of the Sound, so we¬†checked the weather around the state, quickly repacked our gear (much less of it!) and headed north to Fairbanks where warm, sunny skis greeted us.¬†We spent the night in Fairbanks with Katie and Will, and then the six of us headed north to the White Mountains and the Colorado Creek cabin.

The trail is about 14 miles each way, mostly in and out of a forest of spruce trees-many that had been through a forest fire in recent years. Although, once you rise in elevation,get near the cabin, the views open up to the beautiful white mountains. 

Sabrina, Parker, and Jon headed in through burned spruce trees.

Lots of windswept snow in the pass above the cabin.

Dan (in the sleeping bag), Sabrina, Jon, and Parker suntanning-Alaska style!

Lots of chill-axing went on once we reached the cabin.

Dan reading in the evening light.

The White Mountains.

Dan and Parker skiing off into the sunset.

Sabrina showing off her ninja moves at sunset.

It ended up to be a great last minute xc ski trip-allbeit not the backcountry ski trip we had planned. Next year!








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