Friday, March 31, 2006

Fun with photoshop...

I was playing around with a picture from Andrea from last Wednesday on Peak 2 - trying to configure it to replace the header picture on the blog. I got a little freaky with the coloring but I think it turned out pretty well - the response from Andrea: "That's ME?" I guess she approves!

Wednesday night turns on Peak 2

Chester, Andrea, and I took advantage of another sunny Wednesday night and headed up to Peak 2 behind Flattop right after work to make some turns under the setting sun.
The conditions near the road were marginal but the top 500 feet of untracked corn (south-west aspect - home come nobody went there? was it all the rocks?) made the steep hike worth it. The skiiing became increasingly bad as we headed down the mountain but we were all really impressed with how great the top portion was.

The last few turns were done in classic Chugach frontrange style - hacking our way through alders in ankle deep breakable crust. Andrea was smart enough to take the skiis off and walk but Chester and I were determined to ski EFI (every f****** inch), which we did, after multiple crashes.

A few more pictures from Resurrection Pass

Nick learning that cross country skis don't exactly turn like his Gotamas
Emerson feeling the call of the wild (and doing something strange with his lip)
Our (stinky, freezing, too hot) home away from home
No comment

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Resurrection Pass Ski

We took advantage of the long weekend (Seward's Day was Monday) and rented the Fox Creek cabin on the Resurrection Pass trail on the Kenai Penninsula. My dad and brother Nick flew up from Seattle to join the usual crowd: me, Andrea, Phil and Rich, and Larry and Sandra (plus 4 dogs).

Fox Creek is about 12.5 miles in on the trail, past the first cabin. The weather was fantastic for the ski in, patchy clouds, occasional light snow interspersed with sun. But things got ugly within the first two miles when Nick tore the binding out of one of his skis after crashing on a long downhill.

It took awhile to repair the ski - we had to move the binding back about six inches, retap the screw holes with the screws themselves, then screw them back in with a leatherman. I realize this is a great do-it-all tool but it sure was a pain in the *** for re-drilling skis in the field.

Everyone stayed in the cabin on Saturday night except for Andrea and me; we camped outside in the tent, partially because there was not alot of room in the cabin and partially because when there are that many people in the cabin, a tent can be a whole lot more comfortable.

Phil and Rich hauled in Risk and we played an excellent game for about four hours - nothing better than board games in the backcountry. The next day, everyone except me, Andrea, and Nick skied out and headed back to Anchorage. The three of us stayed another day, enjoying sunshine and temps in the mid-forties - we all got a great tan! The last night was clear and the weather freezing - it was hard to keep the cabin warm with just the three of us and only wet wood for the fire but we survived. And played a six hour game of risk in which Andrea delivered Nick his first Risk defeat ever (he usually quits before he can lose).

This pic is for Larry

Monday, March 20, 2006

Nuclear Winter - March madness continues

While the rest of the country is looking forward to spring, our little neck of the arctic was blessed with a winter storm that brought between 10-30 inches of snow to the mountains around Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Penninsula. Andrea and I were planning on spending the weekend in Girdwood. With the upcoming storm, our thoughts of spending sunny March days in the mountains skiing windslab quickly changed to the powder reality we were about to face. Oh, and what powder it was.
We skied Turnagain Pass on Saturday. It was absolutely dumping when we turned off to the parking lot for Tincan - a great option for lousy weather because the tree skiing is so fantastic. The wind was howling as we broke tree line so we decided to do laps in the trees and take advantage of the pockets of deep snow and good visibility the trees provided. We did four runs total. By the time we skinned back to the top, the wind and snow had already filled in most of our tracks!
The third run was by far the best with plenty of face shots and turns getting thigh to waist deep at times. The last run was just to say we took full advantage of this "gift from God" (a running joke all day - it's a gift from God, we have to keep skiing) but we were pretty wasted by the end.
We returned to Girdwood and had an excellent dinner at Maxine's. We had stopped at WorldCup Sports and already people were talking about the "epic' conditions in store for skiers at Alyeska the next day. As promised, it snowed all night and all the next day. Conditions were absolutely fabulous - super deep snow on all the runs, the groomers had taken the night off and you could hit anything as fast as you wanted. The snow kept coming but except for a few isolated times, the visibility remained decent. We skied a full day, 10:30 to 5 and we were some of the last skiers through the lower NF gate before the patrol closed it for the day.

Andrea had just gotten new fat skis the week before - K2 Phat Luvs - and conditions were optimal for putting the skis to the test.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Peak 3 Wednesday night

Some pictures from this Wednesday night on Peak 3 outside Anchorage. Chester and I did a quick after-work ski. The snow was windblown hardpack so the skiing was not great but going backcountry skiing after work and being home by 7:30 is priceless. And did I mention the alpenglow?

And for the doubters...

....this picture should illustrate how cold it was. Notice the heavy duty mittens I'm wearing...I still couldn't get my hands to thaw out. Also, check out the ice rime forming on everything we were wearing - the sun was warm but not warm enough!

Arctic to Indian pictures

Some pictures from last weekend's Arctic to Indian trip. Someone had a little too much to drink the night before (me), and for the first three hours I was pretty miserable and had turned back twice before settling in for the long ski. The first three hours were REALLY cold (0 to -10) but the day warmed up really nicely and it was in the high 20's by the time we finished.

Indian Pass was absolutely awesome - a big glacial valley that was scoured by the wind, leaving not a trace of living thing (no tracks but ours!). The visit was made even more special by the fact that you can't even access a good portion of the trail in the summer because of the swampiness of the area.

Thanks again to Teeny for excellent photography!

Monday, March 13, 2006

March madness, Alaska style

While the rest of the country is obsessing with brackets, up here in Anchorage, March means longer days with plenty of good snow still left in the backcountry. (Acknowledged, there are many b-ball fans here too).

We are only halfway through March and already my body is screaming for rest. Starting with the Tour of Anchorage two weekends ago, we have been taking advantage of the great snow and clear days we have had.

Last week, Chester and I skied Peak 3 on a Wednesday night and had great fresh pow turns in the pink alpenglow. Thursday, Andrea, Chester and I skied the middle fork after work - finishing in the twighlight as the temps dove into the single digits.

This last Saturday, Andrea and I skied with L&S, P&R, Teeny and 4 dogs on the A to I traverse, which travels from Arctic Valley in north Anchorage, back behind the front range, 24 miles to Indian on the Seward Highway. It was a long nine hours but the day was beautiful, clear skies and windy only at the very top of Indian Valley. The snow coverage was great and we were able to ski all the way to the car - although some sections were more skiing on logs than snow.

Sunday we had a beautiful clear day at Alyeska - a "rest" day so to speak. : )
More adventures this week, hopefully including some more time on Peak 3, Anchorage's best "urban" backcountry skiing.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tour of Anchorage - initial results

Sunday was the big day. The Tour of Anchorage. Andrea did the 40K and I did the 50K. Both of us were really nervous before the start as neither had raced this distance before (Actually, Andrea just started skate skiing in November). But we concentrated on taking it easy and staying hydrated. I have never skiied the Spencer Loop so slowly but I was following a Tour veteran (Peter Van Tuyn) and I knew if he was skiing it this slow and still expected to finish in under 3 hours, he must know something I don't.

The slow pace paid off later in the race as both of us doubled on the speed after Westchester Lagoon set a pretty good pace all the way to the end. Having a Red Bull at Point Waronzoff made all the difference for me.

So the official times are: Aaron Ostrovsky, 2:55:44 for the 50K (77th out of248) and Andrea Ostrovsky, 2:38:28 for the 40K (70th out of 174).

Aaron, Andrea, Sandra, and Larry - just before the start at Service H.S.

After some waxing madness on Saturday, I settled on using a mix of Toko LF Red and Blue on the skis. The waxing pattern was recommended by my friend Bill Pearson's sister, Kate, who is on the Rossignol factory team and finished 2nd overall for women. We used one coat of LF Moly, then one coat of 1:1 LF Red/Blue, then one coat of HF Red/Blue from the tips to the binding, then all HF Red from the binding to the end. Although the air temperature was about 30, the snow was colder and the blue/red combo worked great. Thanks for sharing the wealth of knowledge Kate!

More to come!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bird Flu, Blue Jello, and the Grandview Ski Train

The alarm went off at 4:45, we packed food and beer together and headed to the Anchorage Train Depot for the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage's annual Grandview Ski Train.

The ski train takes skiers and snowboarders to Grandview Pass, one pass over from Turnagain pass. There is no other access to the pass besides a long snowmachine ride so its as close to wilderness as you can get with 500 other drunk skiers and a ten-car train.

Partying starts upon boarding the train at 7:30 and lasts until arrival at the pass. One group brought two plastic kiddie pools full of blue vodka jello (one for the ride there, one for the ride home). Teeny kept reminding us that someone was inevitably going to get bird flu as the spoons used to eat the jello were passed around more and more.

The skiing was decent: the snow was really nice as we skinned higher onto the east side of the pass, but the visibility decreased rapidly and there were some true "white room" moments when you could not tell whether the ground was coming up to you or going down away from you. If you kept loose and maintained speed, you could fake your way through the white cloud.

We stopped for lunch on a glacier near the top of the pass. We only realized it was a glacier after Andrea strayed from the group for a bathroom break, commenting on the way back, "What are all these big holes?" They turned out to be crevasses and we stayed clear of further glacier skiing.

Ray had been on the Grandview trip many times and expertly guided us to some great skiing terrain.

The way home was much more rowdy than the way there (when most of the people in our party slept). The jello and beer was flowing and the trip culminated with people sticking their faces directly into the "bird flu" times.

Did I mention the train had a roving polka band?

Coming up this weekend, the Tour of Anchorage! Andrea is skiing the 40K and I am skiing the 50K.