Sunday, February 28, 2010

Marmot & Peak 4068

Finally some new snow after nearly two weeks of above freezing temps.  With warm temps comes a melt-freeze crust.  With a melt-freeze crust, comes "dust on crust".  Well maybe not that bad, but we found some decent snow while skiing the west face of Marmot.

HP was eerily deserted as we pulled into the lower mountain parking lot.  This is just after we all discussed the Tsunami Warning over a cup of Joe at Jitters in Eagle River.  Matt, Agnes, Marc and I were stoked for some powder skiing, after 8" of fresh fell on the Talkeetna Mountains.

Marc makes his way to the ridgeline.
Matt and Agnes make their way to the ridgeline.  The goods are located down and to the right.  No lift ticket required.  (Edited: picture of the year nominee!)
The standard pre-run stoke.  I should prolly take my skins off first...
Conquering the west face of Marmot.
After this challenging run and grueling skin track, we decided to head across the road and ski a shot off of Peak 4068.  After putting skins back on, the bluebird day was quickly turning to greybird.

Is moisture forthcoming?
Matt making tele turns in the flat light.
And the lack of slope angle made it very difficult for the Powderhound.  LB is officially tattered, as depicted below.
In other news, I was the only person in this ski group not to have climbed the tallest mountain on at least two continents.  Very humbling....but I just like to ski.  Any nobody makes me, i'm a volunteer.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

East Coast Stoke...

So we finally got some snow in Southcentral Alaska.  The warm temps and wind wreaked havoc on our snowpack, and kept us out of the mountains last weekend - except for a jaunt to Arctic Valley, or Alpenglow...whatever they're calling it these days.

But even more interesting, the Adirondack Park is getting slammed with a 'Noreaster.

I checked the radar for the East Coast, and this is what I found.
This comes just in time for the Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival.

 Very tempting...I may have to make an emergency trip to the East Coast.

But back to the matter at hand....8" fresh at Hatcher Pass.  Time to go check out the goods in the Talkeetna's with the Snobomb and Marc.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tincan, Gold Mint, Avalanches

I've delayed posting the most recent update, as we've had had some recent avalanche incidents in South central Alaska that takes the wind out of your sails.  But i'll take it from the top...

TP has received an enormous amount of snow (in the high country) and rain (at sea level).  Me and JD drove to Tincan to do some storm skiing.  The snow was thick and deep, a typical Tincan trees day.  I think we saw the guy who posts as "Dongshow" on Telemark Tips.

Justin breaking trail.

Me breaking trail.

Lobita breaking trail.  Actually not really, just trying to keep her head above the snow.
Justin shredding the gnar.
Justin took some nice footage of the deep powder.

So on Saturday, I headed up to Hatcher's to check out the conditions.  As my luck would be, the reports from Turnagain were "best day of the year" and "dude it was so awesome" and on and on.  Ya can't win when yer losin'!

We decided to veer off the set path of the upper mine area, and headed down the Gold Mint Trail.

On our climb, looking up valley towards the Mint Glacier.
Jody skiing carefully down the less than ideal dust on crust.

This terrain looked nice.  I believe the peak in the background is Arcose Peak, but am not sure.  The ribs and spines looked really nice, but the cover is a tad bit thin.
As I returned home, I started getting a lot of calls from backcountry skiing partners.  There was a common relief, as all said "glad to hear your voice, there was a fatality in the South Fork".  Not knowing the victim, we started a BC ski partner accountability check, and I called everyone I knew.

This happened in an area we call "Three Bowls", which was the site of several avalanche incidents in past years.  The most recent 2 seasons ago that buried a Fort Richardson Soldier, although I dont think it was reported.

Additionally, there was a separate event in Grandview that killed two snowmachiners.  One of which was the President of Conoco Phillips in Alaska.  At the time of this post, his partner Alan Gage, is still missing.

However, lets end on a good note.  Meg and I spent some time down at the Alyeska Resort for V-day.  The skiing was marginal, and was like skiing inside of a ping pong ball during a blizzard.  So we went to Chair 5 for Bloody Mary's and wings.

Meg sporting her "uniquely Alaskan" attire.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


When it comes to after work adventures, this is as good as it gets.  Justin D. and I headed up to Harp Mountain for a post-work ski outing.  The Eagle River Valley received nearly a foot of new snow in the last 48 hours, with a nice dusting of champagne powder last night.

Where is everyone? All of this for ourselves?  You mean I don't have to share?
We headed to the end of Highland Road and started our ascent up the ridge.  With bluebird skies, but fleeting daylight, we made it as far as we could before beginning our descent.

Kicking in the skintrack.
First tracks.  Why do I always let him go first?
Look closely.  Why am I smiling?  Dude, because of the face shots!!  Nice picture new nomination for picture of the year.
Continuing the run...
Continuing the run...
This blog wouldn't be complete without a picture of LB.
Our tracks, and only our tracks.  I can confidently say that this was one of the best runs of the year.  Haven't skied powder like that in a while.  The Snobomb says, "that's alotta fuggin snow".  Matty don't say eff.
To put it all in perspective, I toured up Harp again today with my buddy Scott.  In just 24 hours, the pristine powder had disappeared, and the wind was nuking through the South Fork valley.  We cut our tour a bit short, and observed shooting cracks and soft slab releases as we did survival turns all the way back to the truck.  We practiced some avalanche rescue and lived to ski another day.
"The wind works quick..."  - The Token Fat Guy

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Well, not quite.  I skied my local Eagle River favorite with my local favorite ski dog - Lobita.  We had received about 8" of fresh snow in the ER, but I would say there was about 12" of blower powder in the bowl.  I was presently surprised, and would almost say that was the deepest snow i'd skied in North Bowl.

Making my way up the ridge.  Wind buffed powder.  It's usually scoured up here, what a nice surprise.  Dogface getting after it...
Looks like someone tracked up Three Bowls.  My guess would be JT.
The everpresent cornice on the ridge.  Anchorage in the background.
Trying to get this new tripod thing working.  Its getting better.
 I think i've posted this picture before.  About half way down for my rest break.  Lots of face shots to go around.
Sorry for the flat light.  A look at my run.  I made about one thousand butt-wiggle Suzy Chapstick turns all the way to the valley was that good.
While skinning back up to the saddle, I ran into this dude who lives at the base of the South Fork Trailhead.  We noticed a skier triggered avalanche on a chute on the east side of Highland Road, a run locally known as "Leighow".
It ran for about 1800 feet.  I saw a ski party of 4 ascending the gully and thinking that they are going to get themselves in some trouble.  And they did...
This entry wouldn't be complete with a parting shot of The Shrink ripping up some freshies at the resort!
By the way.  The actual name "Superbowl" is a run in Turnagain Pass that was named on this day by Eric the Viking.  That's your little known Alaska backcountry skiing fact.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


When thinking of what I should name this post, the only thing that came to mind is Greg Stump's 1994 film, P-Tex, Lies, and Duct Tape 
Big names Like Glen Plake, Scott Schmidt, and Mike Hattrup also appear in similar movies.  Its always a crowd favorite when the ski season is sneaking up and you all pile around a TV to watch The Blizzard of Aahhh's to get your stoke on!

But back to the matter at hand...

"Dear Ullr,

Thank you for the sick pow that we've been able to ski lately.  In recognition of your plentiful blessings of cold smoke blower powder, I have made a p-tex sacrifice that is in dire need of repair."

The shop.  This is my favorite room in the house.
Step 1.  Melt p-tex into core shots using the base repair iron.
Step 2 and 3.  Ground smooth with the Surform, and finish with a metal scraper.
Finish with a coat of wax, and you're race ready.

Shown below is a home-made ski repair "vice".  I used some scrap 2x4's, and some butyl rubber underlayment from Home Depot (the kind you line your shelves with).
A couple of nice Hatcher's core shots repaired, and ready for a coat of wax tomorrow night.

All of the ski tuning supplies can be purchased from Tognar Toolworks.  Awesome swag, they'll ship in a flat rate box, and give you a 10% discount for serving your country.