Sunday, November 29, 2009

Epic Eddie's!

The snow is finally here....and it is good.

The plan was to stay local. And now the fun begins...

After cross loading gear, changing the plan, and getting coffee at Jitters....

Jon Page and I head to Turnagain Pass to get the goods. Lots of instabilities existed, so we play it safe and slog it out to Eddie's. However, every time I go to Eddie's, I have an epic day. Today was no different.

Jon heading in on the skintrack.

Lobita heading in on the skintrack.

This is what the Chugach is known for. Heavy wet storms that stick to EVERYTHING! And then clear and cold....the result is cold smoke powder!!

LB is bounding and postholing through the hellza deep gnar pow. She is officially tattered after the first run. We arrived late, but managed three stellar runs. Two more to go!!

Jon hucking his meat off of a cornice.

Me cruising through the meadows and trees. F-U-N!

A nice shot of Tincan in the background and the fading November sunset.

Jon on the way back to the truck. Damn that's a lot of snow.

Lobita looking for the shortcut. What shortcut?

Best day of the year. Silky smooth powder, no surprises.

As Jon calls it, "Hero Snow."

Nuff said.

Johnson out.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Tincan Storm Day

November Snow Totals:
23 Nov: 30"
27 Nov: 36-48"

The only logical place to ski is Tincan. Low angle tree skiing.

But there is one problem. It is the Friday after Thanksgiving and everyone has the day off. It looked like the tram dock at Alyeska on a powder day.

The parking lot of Tincan Ridge. We were even greeted by the snow machiners....yay!!

What are all the snowboarders doing in the front? We had to shovel out the skintrack and then break trail with our skis. It was exhausting...

Lobita and Sam in the rear waiting for their turn to break trail.

The Chilkoot Trail just above tree line. It was snowing sideways.

Sam getting ready to break through the next portion of deep pow.

The dogfaces in tow. Yeah they had a rough day if they went off trail.

We skied with another group of 4 or 5 who didn't do any of the work. As seen below, this dude augered in trying to get farther down the slope. This is what a sitzmark looks like in 3 feet of snow....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2nd Annual Turkey Turns 2009

I must say, there was a pretty good showing for the 2nd Annual Turkey Turns 2009. We had a total of 7 BC Skiers, and 2 Skinny Skiers.

Since the intent is to go close to home in order to be home by dinner, we all met up early and drove out to Hatcher's Pass. The light was flat, weather not too cold, and a bit windy.

We found a nice shot of powder on a low angle run called "Thousand Dollar Run". We took a peek at April Bowl, but the winds were nuking pretty good up top and looked pretty wind loaded.

The gang consisted of Marc, Greg "Doc", Russ "Big", Craig "Derfum", Sam C, Bernadette. All photo credits go to Sammy C as he brought his BA camera. He is filling his collection for the shelves of "Lost in AK Photography".

We make our way up the spine of Hatch Peak. Jack is doing the route finding...

Taking a break after the first pitch. Flat light makes the terrain features quite difficult to read.

Looking intently at the carnage. I recall Marc and Russ hitting the "death cookies" with their nice precious skis. I say "Tools not Jewels".

Enjoying the low angle run and wind protected powder stash.

Happy Turkey Day. Now time for food and beer.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Independence Mine

It was Meg's first day on skis, and subsequently her first day in the backcountry.

We took it pretty mellow, and headed up to Hatcher's Pass and toured around the Independence Mine area. It was an easy skin to get the ski legs back under us, and we hit some nice shallow fluffy powder on the way back to the main groomed road.

Here is a pic of just 1 week ago, when we snowshoed and it was -1F, and a slight breeze. Lobita was in full "anti-cold" attire with her hoodie and booties.

She was like Michael Jackson, 3 blaze orange booties, and 1 black bootie.

It was much more bearable this week. 27F and no wind. Lots of classic and skate skiers - to include our friends Marc & Gayle and Jon & Jessica (and Hannah & Chili)

Meg makes her way up to the visitors center.

Meg poses for a quick shot in her new hat. C'est un beau chapeau....(that's right suckas I know French!)

Dogface (AKA Lobita) sits intently while we enjoy our hot cocoa on a well placed rock adjacent to the visitors center. We watched all the 16 year old skate skiers from APU. Damn they make that sh*t look easy!

Next was the way down. Super easy and un-eventful. Good to get our ski legs back under us on a nice mellow groomed slope.

"Bring on the powder" --Meg

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fresno Ridge

No...not the Bay Area.

I took the newbie down to the Summit Lake area for a little exploratory touring. I didn't exactly know the beta on the route, so we had one hell of a bushwhack. The skiing was decent. They had about 12" of base, but the top ~6" was nice and light. Another foot of snow for the southcentral region and we'll be doing good.

Ryan on the skintrack with Manitoba Mountain in the background.

Nice views with the upper Summit Lake area lit by the afternoon sun.

Dogface on the uptrack.

Not sure what this peak is called. I think something back here is called "Spiritwalker"??

Ryan getting his first powder turns. Denali and Lobita close behind.

Ryan laying waste to fresh powder.

Ski it if you can...

And if you can't, this is what it'll look like...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sunnyside

Ahhh yes, the Sunnyside. This is probably the best time of the year to ski the "motorized" side of Turnagain Pass, also known as the sunnyside. It needs about 30" of snow to be ridable for a snowmachine, so we need a couple more big dumps until the USFS opens it up to all of the slednecks.

Jon Page and I left Eagle River around 0900 and were pretty sullen as we drove through Portage looking at the nuking winds coming off of Carpathian and the surrounding peaks. We hit up the Sunburst parking lot and found similar conditions, 15 degrees F ambient temperature with wind gusts into the 40mph range. So we headed to the weather station and decided to take a tour.

As with all early season conditions, you have to manage the alders until they get beat down.

Alderbashing. Chili and Hannah wait.

It started out with the sun shining on the Sunnyside. This is looking across the highway to the "non-motorized" side. Tincan ridge (center) and Eddies (right).

Another good look at Tincan. The run from the top is known as "Todd's Run." Usually not skiable unless we have bomber conditions. I guess some folks already tagged it this year...

Looking down the entire length of Turnagain Pass

Jon thrashes the breakable crust and blower pow. Hannah and Chili are on his heels.

The reward. Nacho Supreme, Chicken Wings, and beer at Chair 5 in Girdwood.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

First Turns of the Year...(and a little Packrafting)

Its been a while since i've been on the snow....but its good to be back on the Uptrack...

My last ski day was May 15th when I skied the S-Couloir with Todd Kelsey. But to replace all those endorphins over the summer months, I discovered Packrafting. I've only been rafting for about 4 months, but have managed to float all of the major rivers/runs in the Anchorage area.

Last night the Anchorage bowl received about 4" of white stuff, so I headed up to Arctic Valley for a quick after work shot. It was an awesome sunset, but no views of the Tordrillo's or Neacola's.

But I skinned to the top of the mid-mountain lift and this is what I found. Anchortown backlit by the sunset.

Gordon Lyon and Tequila Bowl shown in Alpenglow. Now I know why they used to call this place Alpenglow.

Looking into Ship Creek Valley. Speaking of Ship Creek...hopefully a packraft destination next season.

And my favorite shot of the night.

But I did promise some packrafting.

Tim Johnson (my brudda...) and I headed down to Six Mile Creek on Sunday. The rest of the crew got the goods with their new leg straps on Saturday.

Ambient Air Temp: 27 F
Weather: mostly cloudy skies, light snow (what a day for rafting!)

Check out the video Tim made. I had my first successful run of "Staircase", but got bandersnatched on "Merry-go-round". Lots o fun...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Icerafting...I mean Packrafting the Six Mile

We have had a pretty disappointing fall ski season. So why not go packrafting? Marc, Jody and I decided to run the 2nd and 3rd canyons of Six Mile Creek.

Ambient air temperature: 20 deg F
Weather: bluebird skies.
Precipitation: 2-3 inches of snow on the ground in Turnagain Pass.

Marc and Jody getting ready to get strapped in just above the entrance to "Pearly Gates" and "The Nozzle"Ice forming on my paddle. All the eddy's were pretty much frozen over and were quite difficult to get in and out of.
My nemesis..."Staircase" at the entrance to the 3rd Canyon. I aptly named my previous bloggage "Six Million Dollar Creek" because this rapid claimed my knife and the inflatable portion of the spray deck. This thing ate my lunch. I trashed my spray deck...I mean totally trashed it. It ripped all along the velcro, and all the way across below the stow clips. What does this mean? I had to raft the remaining 5 rapids with no spray deck. I was basically floating in a bathtub.

Notice the ice forming on my PFD. Everything was frozen. Including my hands and feet!

Success. The token group shot from the car hood at the take out.

Special thanks to Luc Mehl for helping us out with boat chasing, throw bags, river reading, paddling techniques, and "how not to get your ass kicked" advice.

Marc put this video together:

My trashed boat. Nothing a little aquaseal, tyvek tape, and Winter Ale wont fix!