Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Weekly Peak 3 outing

Chester and I headed up to Peak 3 on Tuesday night for our weekly ritual - some BC turns after work. Nate came along on his first Peak 3 ski ever - Nate lives up on the hillside so its kind of a miracle he has never skied it but for a first time, the conditions could not have been better.

Storms had been hitting the front range for the last few days and there were about eight inches of untracked snow waiting for us in Peak 3's gully. We took full advantage of the excellent conditions and the fact that we had beat most of the other weeknight BC skiers to the top!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Existential Thoughts

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.

- Mark Twain

Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.

- Harlod Whitman

"Chugach Cement"

Aaron claims: "The distinction between Cascade Concrete and Chugach Cement is a subtle, but important one." I am not convinced. All I know is I saw what looked to be soft, fluffy untracked snow at Alyeska; what I hit trapped the inside of edge of my skis, quickly became bumpy, and when I crashed (numerous times, of course), acted like a vice grip on my awkwardly-turned skis.

I must admit, though, that the one run down the High Traverse (the ski patrollers only opened it up for one run -- evidently to let it get tracked up so that it would look less appealing to untracked-powder-seekers), I gently bounced, each turn sinking to my waist, and yelling YAHOOO!!!! with a smile on my face the whole way down.

No Pastoral but trail running begins in earnest.

The kingdom of Pastoral in all its glory
(this is as close as we have ever gotten)

Going to Pastoral is starting to feel like the search for the Lost Kingdom of Prester John - Andrea and I made plans to head up to Pastoral this Saturday with Rich, Chester, Teeny, and Ray but weather coming in Friday night and into Saturday morning changed those plans. Storms rolled across the Kenai Penninsula all night resulting in poor visibility and unstable snow throughout the Turnagain area. Alas, no Pastoral.

Checking conditions around Turnagain Arm on Saturday morning - we were surprised to see Alyeska was reporting 27 inches of new snow overnight! Wow - after cross-verifying via all possible channels (i.e. thinking a lot about how this could possibly be a typo on the website), we resolved to head to Alyeska and leave Pastoral (sigh) for another day.

The skiing was great but the snow was HEAVY - perhaps Andrea will post on her impressions of skiing Chugach Cement for the first time. The technique in this soupy snow is go as fast as possible and then fully commit to large radius turns - needless to say, explosive crashed abounded.

Sunday Chester and Andrea and I began summer trail running training in earnest. We ran the length of the Turnagain Arm Trail from Windy Corner to Potter Marsh - 9.3 miles total. None of us was feeling particularly fast (total time 1:58) but it was nice to start getting some miles in the legs. The trail was in great shape - mostly dry, some lingering snow and patches of mud - and, with temperatures in the 50s and the sun out over the water, our spirits were high.

Turnagain Pass and the front range of the Chugach behind Anchorage are still getting hammered with storms - the Hillside received a dusting again last night - so the BC skiing will be good long after we have moved on to summer sports but NEXT WEEKEND (I tremble as I write this) we are skiing Pastoral.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pastoral (almost)

Last Sunday, Andrea and I skied up the valley between Sunburst and Magnum mountains in Turnagain Pass, over the saddle between the two, and on to an area called Pastoral. The day had started sunny and warm, but as we skinned up the valley, we could see a halo around the sun, indicating ice crystals in the air and a coming storm.

When we arrived at the saddle, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the Pastoral area - but the clouds were already moving in fast and snow was beginning to fall. We descended into the valley and ate lunch on a rise with a commanding view of the amphitheater.

For a moment we thought we may continue our skin up the valley but the light was already very flat and we were afraid of getting stuck in the middle of the huge snowfield in a whiteout. We skied down the valley a bit, hiked back up to the saddle and made a nice run down Sunburst to the car just as the storm was gaining momentum.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Peak 3 last week

Some pictures from Peak 3 last Thursday - the sun was out, the skiing was great. We are heading up there again tonight for a bbq at the base of the mountain!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Is winter over?

NO! Although the snow is getting sparse in Anchorage (alas, no 50 after 5 this winter) - it is still snowing in the front range and Turnagain has repeatedly gotten dumped on. We will not surrender! This weekend's plans are a "Stick it to the Man" post-tax party at the base of Peak 3 on Friday night (organized by local hard man Rob Whitney), perhaps Alpenglow on Saturday, and Turnagain on Sunday.

Last weekend was my 30th birthday so there was not alot of skiing going on. I have some great pics from skiing Peak 3 from the summit last Thursday, which I will post this week at some point.

Also, BIG NEWS, hopefully the pics on AKBC will see a drastic improvement as I received a digital Canon 350d for my birthday! I am still learning how to use it but look forward to great shots to come!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Peak 3 - Tuesday night tele-skiing.

Well, that happened. Here we were, thinking we would take advantage of the fact that the sun doesn't set until around 9:45 these days to do a little peak bagging after work.

The fog rolled in the ascent up Peak 3 and never went away, making the already strange snow (it was taught like a drum) even stranger, and Chester and I started to get more and more nauseus as vertigo set in.

The ski down was...well, we survived. I learned two things: breakable crust is really hard to ski with telemark skis and skiing with telemark skis is really hard. Wow - props to the free-heel folks, I almost killed myself. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 02, 2006


March Madness (alaska style) has infected our April mindsets. After a much needed Saturday rest day, we headed up to Turnagain today - for some awesome runs on Tin Can.

After some deliberation about avalanche danger (see post below) we headed up and were the second and third sets of tracks down from the false summit.

Chester and Brian met us mid-day for a few runs from the top (we did 4 from the top to the saddle). On the way down, hungry for more untracked powder, Aaron and I headed back up to mid-mountain for one more run. A solidly great day.

Avalanche conditions at Turnagain

It didn't take much deciphering to figure out that conditions were not "green light" today on Tin Can. As we approached the saddle below Hippie Bowl, we saw a skier-triggered slide just off the west side of the saddle. The slide matched our predictions - 10-12 inches of new (fallen + wind loaded) snow on top of buried surface hoar. The small avalanche left a clean, smooth surface of surface hoar (check out the relatively large crystals below). The slide definitely gave us pause. We decided not to ski in the bowl itself, but to play it safe on the less-steep, less-wind-loaded ridge. The skiing was awesome and everyone stayed safe!