Sunday, February 22, 2009

EPIC Powder Day....

So its been nothing but "blue and white" for the whole weekend.

Today was quite possibly the second best powder ski day of the season. Turnagain is pretty hard to beat...

I headed to Hatcher Pass again with friends Sam, Kurt, and Mark - the new guy. Of course there is a 1:1 dog:human ratio with man's bestest friends Lobita, Katie, Jade, Jack, and Jasper.

Kurt, Sam, and Mark on the uptrack. Everyone else below us had the same for fresh tracks.

Lobita sniffing for I mean fresh snow...

Jack ready to huck the cornice.

Hatch Peak with a skier-triggered avalanche that happened on Saturday. It slid for about 600 feet.

Sunnyside (right), and Government Peak (center). Below Government Peak is the "Japanese Headwall."
The backside of "Halibut Tail" all stitched up. We contributed.

Another look at our tracks.

Kurt and the dogs after run #1.

Jack and Jasper silouetted on the ridgeline.

Halibut Tail from a distance.

The Chugach Range in the background. That is the Knik River in the distance on the right.

Sam ripping it up on his snowboard...booh....

Lobita ripping it up.....yeah.....

A shot of the Government Peak amphitheater and drainage.

The bottom of Sunnyside. Put the skins back on.

Taking a break before the final run.

Looking at the entire Eastern Chugach range. What a view... Notice the plane in the center. He buzzed us on the peak. I have seen him before....his pattern must be full.

The white dogs in the white room. Kurt looking like batman on the final descent.

Dog Tired. Everyone asleep except for Lobita. She is pulling 360-degree security.

Bluebird Powder Day

The thursday night storm brought the Talkeetna's 13 inches of fresh powder.

It was a call for a half day of work on Friday. And many other skiers and sno-go's had the same idea.

Lobita patiently waits for the fog to clear and the climb to the top.

Looking into the main Hatcher Pass recreation area.

Looking back towards the pass road and into the Mint and Archangel valley's.

Its beginning to clear and LB can taste the fresh pow. Can we go now???

A close of the "Pinnacle" (left), "Microdot" (center), and "Marmot" (far right).

The candid self portrait on top of Peak 4068.

I pretty much had the whole peak to myself. Lobita catches up to me by burroughing a trough through the snow (far iright), it was a little deep.

Looking back uphill towards my tracks.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Arctic Valley

It was military appreciation day at the Arctic Valley resort, formerly known as Alpenglow.

Temps were in the mid-teens, and the visibility was 100%. However, Anchorage had a thick layer of clouds shielding the bright sunshine and blue skies.

NOTE: Arctic Valley is for tele-minded skiers, and upper intermediate to expert skiers only!

Below: Meg is tediously overlooking the precipice. This part took nearly 30 minutes....

A socked in view of Anchorage with the southern half of the Alaska Range behind. You can get a glimpse of Redoubt Volcano too.

Ship Creek Valley. The tallest peak on the right is Temptation Peak.

The peaks on the west side of the South Fork Eagle River Valley. The long broad ridge in the center of this photo is North Bowl.

Meg gives the rope tow the old "college try." She toughed it out all the way to the top. The sign reads, "beginners unload here."

Meg looking much happier (and me looking stupid) after she got some practice in. Its "just like riding a bike" she says.

Meg makes her way off of Thompson Lift.

The peak in the distance is Mount Gordon Lyon, and the bowl in front of it is Tequila Bowl.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Harp Mtn.

A lesson in avalanche education....

A short work day on Friday sent us to Harp Mountain in the South Fork. Kurt and I, with dogs Lobita, Jade, and Katie headed after the recent snowfall Thursday night.

We found multiple instabilities as we climbed higher on the ridge.

Bullseye Clue #1: Shooting Cracks.

The dogs actually set this off. Wind slabs will usually fracture right underneath your skis.

More shooting cracks in the small wind slab down slope.

Jade chaces Lobita back towards the group.

Kurt ascending the ridgeline. The South Fork valley below. From L to R, the peaks on the ridge behind us: "The Nipple" (L), Rendezvous Peak (Center), Mount Gordon Lyon (R).

Bullseye Clue #2: Recent avalanche activity on similar slope angle and aspect. This was in a small wind loaded gully.

Bullseye Clue #3: Whumping. As I ascended the ridge (and Kurt was going poo), the entire weak layer below went "whump!!!!". Although you're on safe terrain, it still makes your stomach in your throat.
I remotely triggered this 12" thick wind slab from 75 feet away. It was slow moving and didn't run very far.

"Jadie" watch as we peel our skins and get geared up.

A closer look at the bed surface of this slide. It ripped out some more weak layers as it went over a steeper convexity.

After these "bullseye clues", we made the decision to live to ski another day and called it. We chose some mellow terrain for our decent.
First I "ski cut" the slope below us in a deliberate attempt to get more snow to slide. This is an effective technique to evaluate the snowpack.

Me dropping in to the valley floor below. Lobita, of course, close behind.

This is the bowl to the lookers left of the Harp summit. I skied this last spring and was the best spring skiing run of the year.

Call 9-1-1!! Lobita had some trauma on the way down and ripped some skin off of her pad on the back of her leg. We bandaged her up and headed back to the Patrol Base.

It was a good learning experience by taking our time to evaluate and assess the snowpack.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The SoFo

I bolted out of work at quittin' time to get some stoke in the South Fork of Eagle River area, or the SoFo as its known. It was just me and Dogface getting after it. Well I was getting after it, she was shivering the whole time...

Paws up, sitting down. Next is the fetal position.

Anchortown backlit by the sunset. Days are getting longer. That is the Tordrillo Mountain range in the background.

My skin track with Eagle River in the background.

This is North Bowl proper. Most people ski from the "lookers right" portion of the bowl.

Our famous volcano, Mount Redoubt. Although not spewing ash just yet. On the left is the cornice that is built up on top of the bowl.

Another popular "road run." On the left is Harp Mountain, and its drainage. On the left is Links, divided by the main spur that juts out.

Tracks down the bowl with LB close behind.

A shot looking north. You can see Denali (right) and Foraker (left) peaking out that have the alpenglow hitting them just right.

A view to the southeast. The small bowl to the front center is "Swiss Bowl."

I pretty much froze my ass off. It was -9 F by the time I got back to the truck at the trailhead. Lobita head a rough day and she was pretty chilly. She deserved a ride in the cab with me.
It was an awesome sunset, and I got to enjoy it by myself!! (and Dogface)