Saturday, January 30, 2010


I got a chance to explore some new terrain in Turnagain Pass with Jon and Jenna.

Last weekend it was mobbed in the pass with all the Anchorage Ants, but surprisingly we had the entire mountain to ourselves, didn't see another ski party!

We hit the Lipps turnout, and started skinning up the death crust.  There were warm temps and rain in the pass up to about 1700 feet.

The good sled dog, Kijik.  Digging herself a snowpit, and conducting a DCT (Dog Compression Test).  Results: NF.
Jon and Jenna on the Uptrack.
Looking across the highway at the sunnyside.  I've called this Big Chief, but I heard otherwise recently.
Arriving at our destination.  Looking across Bertha Creek at Cornbiscuit.  Notice the skier-triggered avalanche on the ribs to lookers right, about 1/4 the way down.
Team Icelantic.  It helps to know somebody who knows somebody...
Jenna ripping it up.
Jon with a nice rooster tail.
Jenna enjoying the sun on south aspects.
LB being chased by mad crazed powder skiers.  Hurry up dogface!
Jon basking in the sun on our way to our third run of the day.  Still no sightings of other skiers.
I couldn't really tell what this peak was way in the Eastern Chugach.  Any takers?
Riding the spine.
Riding the breakable crust.
Should we ski this?  Jon and Jenna debating which route to take.
And the answer is.....absolutely!  Jenna dropping into this 38-40 degree face and giving some Lipps service!  Best snow of the day.
Jon getting kissed by Lipps.
Terrian wise, one of the best days of the year.  Powder wise, you can't beat cold smoke hero snow on Eddies.

One of my favorite views.  Alpenglow shining on Carpathian.  Add that one to the wishlist.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ram Valley & Peak 5320

While touring on Saturday afternoon, I scoped out the goods from atop Harp Mountain.  I looked far and wide across the North Fork of Eagle River and saw many untracked peaks in Ram Valley.  In particular, this one:

I called up my ski partner Justin and we headed out Eagle River Road to the quasi-trailhead parking.  When you think of looooong day tours, this one certainly makes the list.  We walked for 4 1/2 hours before reaching the top.  But it was worth it.

Looking back down the valley.  Eagle Peak and Polar Bear Peak making themselves known.

Our destination...untracked.  This is basically on the backside slopes of Mount Significant.  This was a significant challenge getting back here.  From this point, we still had to gain over 1500 feet of elevation!

Making my way up to the peak.  Taking a break, and looking at the view.

These couloirs look amazing and very inviting.  Two "braggin' rights" chutes off of the top of Raina Peak.

JD headed up the knife-edge ridge to the summit.  This would require a tad bit of boot packing.

I never get sick of this view.  The Great One.

Finishing the final ascent with the Alaska Range in the background.

The clouds moved in a little bit, and it was getting dark...quickly.  Justin and LB enjoying the down.

Check out the video of the nice Chugach Front Range goods:

Inspecting our tracks in the evening alpenglow. (upper right to lower left)

The sunset on the way back to the truck.  Meadow skipping is fun...

Here is an overview of our route.  Red is shown for climbing, and blue is shown for our ski descent.

Trip Totals:
6.5 hours round trip.
7.6 miles walked

5100 feet of vertical gained.
3 moose sighted.
2 Winter Ale's consumed at mission complete.  Sorry, no Pizza Man.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I always get scolded for not posting on the entire meaning of this blog...."adventures of the Birdcage and the Shrink."  So here ya go.

Matt and Meg's favorite pastime is to enjoy a campfire in front of the patrol base.  This usually includes puffy jackets, Skhoop's, food on the grill, Winter Ale, Vanilla Stoli, and of course....Smores.

Meg and Lobita chilling and relaxing (chillaxin') by the fireside.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two Bowls

I got a late start to the day, so I decided to play it local.

I made my way up the South Fork valley surveying all of the runs.  I chose to head up the Harp Mountain drainage and ski a line that I had skied in the spring about 2 years back with Snobomb.

I only saw 2 cars in the turnout, and a couple of climbers on the nearby ridges.

I seem to like the looks of this photo lately.  Not much to photograph when you ski alone.

We've been lucky with this high pressure.  It was 9 F when I left my house, and 28 F when I left the parking lot and started climbing.  Its called a temperature inversion!

Somebody had done a nice job at milking these turns.

The range was looking stellar today.

And a not too shabby view of the rest of the peaks to the south.  Anchorage, the Cook Inlet, Mount Spurr, and Mount Redoubt all showing their faces.

And this is how it's done.  I was actually going to shoot a different line, but kinda got sketched out.  If you look up hero snow in the dictionary, this is the picture that is next to it.

A nice sunset over Temptation Peak.

I was very impressed with the Front Range conditions.  This may call for some more close to home backcountry adventures.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mount Baldy...after work

Although it isn't quite time for after work skiing....I dodged out at 'beer 'thirty and headed for a quick shot and took advantage of the twilight (no Meg, no pun intended).
Tonight I observed some of the blue-est skies i've ever seen.
Shown is the Alaska Range, with Denali on the lookers right.

I heard on the radio that Mount Redoubt was seeing some carnage.  Not the case, here she is.

LB eating some white stuff.

Me and my ski partner.

This is pretty much all of Cook Inlet.  The two mountains near the sunset are Redoubt and Iliamna volancoes.

The ridgeline of Arctic Valley.  The tallest peak is Mount Gordon Lyon.

A closer look at Redoubt and Iliamna.

I tried this new camera tripod that Meg bought me.  I have to iron out the kinks.

And I leave you shooting the moon.

Not much skiing, as the conditions were marginal.  I skied the main chute off the southwest aspect of the summit.  It was all about the views, the sunset, and the exercise.


What else is there to do in Alaska besides skiing?  Glad you asked....tubing!

Meg and I headed to Hillberg Ski Area for a little tubing action on their hill.  Although its not the backcountry, it was still mad fun careening down the mountain on a tub at break-neck speed.

The obligatory shot when we first jumped on the tubes.

  Hauling ass.

Meg rockin' out!

Matty J at warp speed. (gang sign not required)

And up over the big jump catching air.  Why do I have my eyes closed?

I must be scared.  This event would be great with a bunch of people and a tailgate party in the parking lot.