Shunta's introduction to Alaska skiing has been a happy reminder of our wealth of extraordinary places to ski. Hailing from Hokkaido, Japan, a place known for its excellent snow and great skiing, it might be understandable if Alaska did not leave him awestruck, but Shunta's sincere and exclamatory appreciation of Alaska's mountains has been obvious and contagious. Sharing that same feeling of awe has been a reward in itself.
All Smiles above Summit Lake
We made it up Tenderfoot Ridge above Summit Lake to find a few rocks, some frozen ice chunkies, and smokey powder. We found an icy hard base with rain runnels and insufficient snowpack to fill in and smooth out the tussocks for a few hundred feet vertical. Upper hemlock groves and alpine zones were really sweet.
Seattle Creek presently has some sweet snow and is getting more. It also has some variable 'upside down' snow with dense wind pack on blower powder, some thin areas not quite covering the tundra, and windboard. Conditions are best described as: variable, but if a skier is lucky or savvy enough to find the sweet snow, there is incredibly good skiing.
Kruser and yours truly endured one line with less than perfect snow, but we also found perfection in a storm at Seattle Creek.