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 hadĀ 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 šŸ™‚ SomethingĀ I really wasn’tĀ 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 šŸ˜¦ Gouged tip to tail. Nothing a little p-tex can’t fix!

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 šŸ™‚ 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. Ā 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,Ā 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 šŸ™‚

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 MichelleĀ checking outĀ options.

Michelle and Mike descending down towards Shrode Lake.

We were told that the people that had the cabin the weekendĀ prior found only the top 18 inches of the hutĀ 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!

Ā Mike skiing above Jack Lake. The conditions were less than stellar. It had rained for theĀ day and a half priorĀ -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 ParkerĀ 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 šŸ™‚ Another glass calm day in PWS.

Michelle and Mike waiting at the pick up beachĀ 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 someĀ touring in. I usually only head up there early in theĀ season, and was excited to find nice light powder, a few untracked lines,Ā and good stability.

The crew.

Lee getting after it.

Jon making some turns.

MichelleĀ 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, untrackedĀ long line.

Kasey wrapping up a great line and a beautiful weekend.

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 topĀ 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,Ā avy and Ā 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.

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