Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Site Summit

I finally got to tag a line that has been a long time waiting.

Marc and I arrived at the Arctic Valley Ski Area around 4:30PM for some after work turns.  The Denali Patrol was working on the finicky T-Bar.  Maybe they'll get it working for the Merry Marmot Festival.

We made it to the saddle below Site Summit in about 30 minutes and were prepared to shred the goods.

Conditions were variable, but we found some softer snow in the gullies that were north facing, and a breakable "pizza-box" like crust everywhere else, combined with boilerplate wind hammered snow on the ridges.

Marc schralping the gnar.

Site Summit actually has a lot of very interesting history.  The former site of a Nike Missle silo, and a military ski area.  Check out this site, for some more interesting information.

I think this dude has Marc beat in "Schralp" status.
This is a picture of an actual Nike Hercules Missle launch.  This is the last Nike Missle site in Alaska. (Photos courtesy of

We made two runs down "Grezelka Couloir" and "KD Couloir".  Tracks are visible from the Glenn Highway...check it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Greetings powder fans!  Marc, Sam, Gretchen and I headed south to enjoy the sunshine.  But TP was eerily empty considering the 15" of new snow, bluebird skies, and warm spring-like conditions.  It must have been the recent avalanche activity.

We continued our drive to Summit Lake and headed up to Manitoba.  I've always heard this was a slog, and we certainly had a hike in front of us.  I took nearly 2 1/2 hours to gain the ridge, and ski from just below the summit.  Our second run was from the top.  Some pretty awesome terrain back there.

Sam and Marc earnin' it.
There was a hardened death crust as we climbed, made from the nasty melt-freeze cycle we've been in lately.  But there was some nice soft snow on the shadier aspects that didn't receive direct sunlight.

S & G skiing "Canadian".  That's everyone skis at the same time (Note: phrase borrowed from another BC skier :-)
Gretchen loving the down.
Sam loving the down.

Stitching up "Manislowba"
Marc and Sam.  Upper Summit Lake in the background.  This way to Seward...
Lobita looking for some slope angle.
This one is certainly near the top of my wish list.  Spirit Walker looking loud and proud.
First tracks of the day.  Pacemaker scars on the west face of Manitoba.  All in a good days work.
LB says we need to roll.  We Audi 5000...

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The Italian Job

I got an interesting opportunity to show some folks my favorite Front Range powder stash.  Matt (AKA #1, the knee dropper, or he who takes bad ass photos) called me on Friday afternoon looking for some route beta to show their friends.

It just turned out that Italian Photographers Dan and Janine Patitucci presented the sold out show titled "Got Huts?" at the Bear Tooth the previous Thursday night.  These guys have some pretty stellar photos also, check it out.

I couldn't resist the invite.  After a flat tire, stop at the camera shop, and the drive to the South Fork Trailhead, we finally linked up to get some powder turns.

The South Fork must have gotten some recent wind events.  It was a little bare in spots.  I heard things like "I doubt we'll find powder", "I'll be really surprised if we get good snow", and "this is gonna suck."  My only comment...."Trust me."

I didn't have my camera for proof of "how good it was".  Everyone was thankful for the Chugach powder stash, so much that they all did another run.  I had a dinner date, so LB and I headed back to the truck.  But not before enjoying a snow chilled Silver Bullet.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mount Gordon Lyon

I just had to get out and ski again.  Meg had ladies night.

We left the Arctic Valley Ski Area parking lot at 3:45PM.

We had the intention of skiing Gordon Lyon from the tippy top.  Conditions were a tad bid wind loaded and styrofoamy, so chose a mellower line off the skiers left.  My camera went rogue, and all the first run photos were washed out.

Debating on the second run, Alan, Marc and I hit up the goods for another stash of white stuff.

Alan dropping in.
Marc dropping in.
Witnessing the overall annihilation of the Front Range powdery goodness.
So someone had the bright idea of skiing to the Glenn Highway.  After 2.5 hours of bushwhacking and alderbashing, we arrived at Grezelka Range for an exfil by Sam C.  Thanks Sam, I owe you some beers!

But I got some awesome shots of the sunset over the Tordrillo's.  The peaks on the lookers left are Redoubt and Iliamna Volcano's.
We arrived at the Glenn at 9:15PM.  I ate McDonald's for was soooo good.  I think I burned about 8000 calories.

North Bowl

Its been an awesome run of high pressure, stable conditions, and cold smoke powder on north facing aspects.

I headed to North Bowl after work on Monday and met up with these guys.
Eric and Alan, fellow Eagle River and South Fork residents, respectively.
Alan, the token splitboarder, drops into the bowl.
Eric hucks the cornice.

They Headed North

So Meg and I decided to make a weekend pilgrimage to Fairbanks, Alaska.

After just under 6 hours of driving, we ended up at Pike's Landing.  For the weekend, we had the Ice Festival, Chena Hot Springs, and a remote cabin on tap.

After arriving in town, we had plans to eat at the Turtle Club, but those plans went awry with a 2 hour wait.  We headed to the Silver Gulch Brewery instead and had an awesome dinner.

With only a couple hours left, we checked out the International Ice Festival in the single digit weather.  It was pretty damn amazing...

This is Meg's second snowmachine ride, on her own personal pink snowmachine.
Meg rockin' out in the kids ice tunnel.
Riding the ice luge on a cardboard box.
North to the Future!!
This sculpture was titled "Coming Home".
Later that night we retired to Pike's Landing, and grabbed a drink at the bar.  We got up the next morning and ate breakfast at Sourdough Sam's and checked out the Ice Fest in the daylight.  By the way, it was -20F when we woke up...

Meg makes her way through the ice maze.
It was rather cold riding the free train.  What a cutie!!
Hitting the bowl.  No Mom, not that kind...
More ice luging.
What can I say...they did an ice job with this one...
Meg's favorite animal.
Titled "Conception", how'd they do that?
The next adventure was getting out to a remote cabin that was 6.5 miles off of Chena Hot Springs Road. The Nugget Creek cabin is accesible only by foot, ski, or snowmachine.  We chose the latter, borrowing a sled from one of my buddies.

Meg prepped for a little throttle therapy.
The Nugget Creek Cabin.

The cabin via the wood line...

After we got the fire stoked, we headed back out to the road and drove another 25 miles to the Chena Hot Springs.  Arriving just before sunset, we soaked in the hot springs while the ambient temperature hovered in the single digits.

Cabin life.  Drinks, hot dogs, snacks, cards (Hands and Feet), lanterns,  and dogface.
The necessary items for Hands and Feet.
Cool picture of cabin life...with a lot of stuff going on (new BD Lantern, cabin log, "The Club", iPhone music, and Meg).

Taken just before we would see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.  I really couldn't figure how to use my new bad ass camera, so no bad ass pics.
We had some pretty stellar views of the aurora.  We headed back to Anchorage the next day, of course losing an hour due to daylight savings time.

860 miles of driving...but it was soooo worth it!

Coyote Ridge

This the start of many blog updates.  We got anywhere from 8-20" of fresh snow with the last front range storm, and the skiing has been awesome for about 2 weeks.

Last Friday, Marc, Agnes, and Matt #1 headed out to the Hillside in search of champagne powder.

And we found it.

Marc and #1 contemplate the exact location of the goods...

Now i've always thought that an interesting photo was taking off your skins with skis still on, with a nice background of blowing snow, and ready to be skied powder.  This was #1's idea...

Hey Matt #2, get this...
Ok, how about now...

Let me try again...
And again...
This guy is a bumbling idiot...has he ever backcountry skied before???
Success!!  This is the picture I was looking for.
Now back to skiing.  Agnes ripping up the freshies.
Marc takes no prisoners.
Matt drops the knee with Ptarmigan Peak in the background.
Marc actually skiing with his legs together, east coast style.
Our tracks, and only our tracks.  Front Range goodness!